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Last month has entered the books as the hottest August in Israel since meteorologists began recording the temperature in the country, the Israel Meteorological Service said yesterday.

Several local heat records were broken last month.

At Mount Canaan, near Safed, temperatures hit 40.6 degrees Celsius (105 degrees Fahrenheit ), the highest temperature recorded at the site since 1939.

The record was also broken at Kfar Blum, where temperatures reached 45.4 degrees Celsius (114 degrees Fahrenheit ). Jerusalem also saw its hottest August temperature reading: 41 degrees Celsius (105 degrees Fahrenheit ).

Overall, last month was significantly hotter than the multi-year average for 1981-2000, as well as the average for the past decade.

A significant portion of the August nights this year were 3 to 4 degrees hotter than average. During the day, average temperatures in central Israel and the mountain regions rose by an average 2.5 to 4 degrees, and by 1.5 to 2 degrees along the coast.

September is looking less cruel. The heat eased up perceptibly yesterday, and it rained a little in the southern coastal plain. Today will be slightly cooler, with light rain forecast along the coast.

But the trend will be reversed on Saturday, which will be unseasonably hot as temperatures rise again.