Israel's August had record-breaking heatwave, unexpected rain

Only the years 2021, 2015, 2010 and 1998 were hotter, with 2010 being the hottest, Israel's Meteorological Service reported.

 Metzitzim Beach, June 1, 2023. (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)
Metzitzim Beach, June 1, 2023.

In July and August, Israel experienced its hottest summer months since 1950, matching only the scorching summer of 2017, Israel’s Meteorological Service reported over the weekend.

However, August ended on an unusual note with significant rainfall, particularly for this time of year.

When focusing solely on August, the month alone ranked fifth for daily temperatures since 1950, according to the service. Nonetheless, temperatures soared to the second-highest levels on record in the coastal and northern regions – primarily driven by a nearly two-week heat wave.

The years 2021, 2015, 2010, and 1998 were hotter, with 2010 being the hottest. According to the service, most of the hottest summers in Israel were in the last two decades.

August temperatures higher than average

During the day, August temperatures were hotter than the average between 1991 and 2020 by as much as 2° Celsius, depending on the location.

 Arab women enjoy the beach in Tel Aviv on a hot summer day. August 13, 2023 (credit: MIRIAM ALSTER/FLASH90)
Arab women enjoy the beach in Tel Aviv on a hot summer day. August 13, 2023 (credit: MIRIAM ALSTER/FLASH90)

At night, there were also variations, the service said. For example, the coastal plain, the northern valleys, and the Negev were 1.5° to 2° degrees hotter this month, while the Arava was only about 1° to 1.5° hotter.

The meteorological service divided the month into three distinct periods. The first, from August 1-11, saw Israel experiencing average temperatures. The second phase, characterized by a heat wave, persisted from August 12-24.

Finally, the last stretch, encompassing August 25-31, brought an unexpected bout of rainfall to the region.

Despite the average temperatures during the first part of the month, some areas had unusually severe heat indexes.

On August 1 and 2, temperatures reached 34° to 36° in the coastal plain and the Shfela region, 37° to 38° in the northern Negev and northern valleys, and 42° to 44° in the Jordan Valley and the Arava.

Similar temperatures were recorded on the sixth and seventh.

Evening or nighttime temperatures, however, helped bring the average down.

Israel's temperatures during the extreme heatwave

During the heat wave, daily maximum temperatures reached 45° to 46° in the Jordan Valley, 38° to 42° in the central hills – including 41.7° in Jerusalem – 36° to 37° in the northern Golan Heights and Upper Galilee, and 42° to 45° in the Arava.

In the Shfela region and northern Negev, temperatures ranged from 34° to 37°; in the coastal plain, temperatures ranged between 33° to 34°.

The meteorological service reported that elevated relative humidity levels further exacerbated the challenge posed by the intense heat, and this period of exceptionally high daytime temperatures, combined with moderate nighttime conditions, persisted for eight consecutive days, from August 13-20.

Although, on average, it was not the hottest August ever, some stations broke their highest minimum temperature recorded by a small margin: Beit Dagan with 29° and Negba with 28.2°. Others were ranked second or third.

Towards the end of the month, temperatures generally remained around average, occasionally dipping below average from August 25-31. However, on August 28 and 29, an unexpected spell of rain surprised the nation.

The meteorological service noted that the rainfall was primarily concentrated in the country’s northern regions.

Nevertheless, it also extended to the southern coastal plain, affecting areas unaccustomed to rain during this season.There were also higher quantities for the summer.

In the Jezreel Valley, over 10 mm. of rain was recorded. In stations around Haifa, up to 9 mm. of rain was recorded, and in the Jordan Valley, the Galilee, and the Golan Heights, several millimeters of rain fell. There was also some rain in the southern coastal plain, such as 3 mm. in Kfar Vradim and 2.4 mm. in Yad Mordechai.

“Although occasionally, we receive light and localized summer rains, this rainfall event was exceptional in terms of both quantity and distribution for July and August,” the service said in its monthly report. “It is interesting to note that in the last two decades, the frequency of significant rain events in the central summer months has increased compared to the past.”