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The Israeli public will have to contend with a particularly high heat index today as a steep rise in temperatures in part of the country is coupled with persistently high humidity. Tomorrow will bring minor relief in the heat index, with substantial improvement only coming on Wednesday. Toward the weekend, the mercury is predicted to be normal for the time of year, with the summer's heat remaining a more familiar annoyance.

The interior of the country will bake under hotter than normal temperatures, but the humidity won't rise, Nahum Malik of the Meteo-Tech weather firm said. "In Jerusalem, the temperature will reach 34 degrees, but humidity will be normal, about 40 percent," Malik said, adding, "On the coastal plain, it will only be one or two degrees above normal, but the humidity will remain very high, at 70 to 80 percent."

The Israel Meteorological Service is predicting a high in Tel Aviv of 30 degrees and 32 in Haifa today with 70 percent humidity in the two cities.

The heat wave is the result of winds at an altitude of a kilometer and a half coming from Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Lower down, however, a continued westerly flow is bringing in moisture which is trapped under the warm air mass, causing high temperatures and high humidity.

Although unconnected to the prevailing weather system here, parts of Europe have also been contending with unusually hot weather recently.