Sandstorm in Negev, desert, sharav, khamsin.
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Following a longer-than-usual winter that saw one of the rainiest months in Israel's modern history, a short but fierce burst of heat blew into the country Wednesday, only to break in the late afternoon dropping temperatures at least 10 degrees within an hour.
The Tel Aviv area saw temperatures reaching as high as 38 degrees Celsius (100 Fahrenheit) in the first half of the day. Temperatures in the nation's capital climbed to an unseasonable 32 Celsuis (89 Fahrenheit), and holdover Passover vacationers in Eilat could expect temperatures reaching 35 Celsuis (95 Fahrenheit).
But while the spike in temperature was welcome for those Israelis longing for summer, the fleeting reprieve from a lingering winter lasted less than a full day. While the white haze remained, the furnace-like winds snapped in the afternoon, replaced with blustery cool winds.
Like Tuesday, temperatures on Thursday were expected to dramatically drop some 15 degrees Celsius (29 Fahrenheit) in the White City, with a chance of rain in the north of the country. The lower temperatures were expected to keep Israelis cool through the weekend.
The short bursts of hot winds blowing from the south, mixed with dust and desert sands, are known regionally as Khamsin
(in Arabic, "fifty"), and sharav
. The name Khamsin
relates to a springtime period of some-fifty days during which such conditions occur intermittently. The scorching temperatures and thick atmosphere are a result of winds blowing in from the vast deserts of North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, carrying with them a haze that can cause a noticeable drop in visibility, and can even cause some health hazards.
The intense weather often dissipates as quickly as it settles, usually lasting less than a full day, as it did on Wednesday.
During such conditions, it is best to remain indoors and avoid intense outdoor physical activity.