With a heat wave starting in Israel Sunday and expected to grip the nation for about ten days, the Health Ministry has warned against outdoor activity.
According to the Meteorological Service, the heat wave will gradually worsen before lifting in the second week of August.
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The ministry called on Sunday morning on all Israelis – and particularly senior citizens and people with chronic conditions – to stay out of the sun and heat, avoid unnecessary physical exertion, stay hydrated and remain in air-conditioned spaces as much as possible.
Despite the heat, the ministry stressed that people must wear masks indoors, and recommended wearing masks outdoors as well, even though it is not a mandatory COVID-19 restriction.
Bonfires are being banned starting on Monday through Sept. 30 due to the extreme heat, the Israel Fire and Rescue Services announced on Sunday.
According to the latest weather reports, the heat wave will persist Monday with the heat stress factor classified as major to extreme throughout most of the country. Tuesday will see similar conditions, and Wednesday will be even hotter. Beginning in the second half of the week, maximum temperatures inland and in the mountains will reach 35–40 degrees Celsius (95-104 Fahrenheit) and in the eastern and southern valleys, 42 to 45 degrees (108-113 F).
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Nir Stav, the director general of the Israel Meteorological Service, told Haaretz that five hot days lie ahead. The mountains and inland will be hot and dry, and the coast will be humid. He added that in the coming week, "We must pay special attention to protecting the elderly population, which is more sensitive to the heat, and of course to hikers and laborers who work outdoors."
The climate crisis has led to a more intense heat waves throughout the world. Israel is heating up faster than the global average; the Meteorological Service found that as early as 2016, there has been a clear and sharp spike in heat waves in the country, and that the coming decades will see lengthy heat waves with temperatures higher than 50 degrees (122 F).
An extreme heat wave has also hit southeastern Europe. In Greece, temperatures rose to mover 40 degrees (40 F), and the authorities have declared a state of emergency and put up cooling shelters, among other measures. Forest fires have also broken out in Greece, and have threatened homes. In southern Turkey, at least three people were killed and dozens were hospitalized due to two fires that broke out in the wake of the extreme heat. Climate specialists said that this is the worst heat wave since the mid-1980s.
In June, hundreds of deaths in Canada were associated with the extreme heat in the Pacific Northwest region. In the town of Lytton, for example, temperatures rose to 49.6 degrees (121 F) – an all-time high for Canada. At the beginning of the month, California recorded a high of to 54 degrees (129 F), and along with it massive forest fires.
Josh Breiner contributed to this report.