Heat Wave Scorches Israel – but the Real Sizzle Is Yet to Come

Temperatures are expected to reach 114 F on Friday, Israel's Meteorological Service says, promising a relief on Sunday

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Firefighters working to quell a wildfire near Jerusalem, August 4, 2021
Firefighters working to quell a wildfire near Jerusalem, August 4, 2021Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

A heat wave that has been searing Israel over the past week will peak on Friday, with temperatures as high as 46 degrees Celsius (114 F) expected in parts of the country, according to the Meteorological Service.

In Tel Aviv, temperatures will range from 25 to 35 degrees Celsius (77-95 F), in Jerusalem from 25 to 37 (77-98 F), in Haifa from 26 to 36 (79-97 F), in Eilat from 31 to 42 (88-107 F) and in the Dead Sea from 34 to 46 (93-115 F).

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The sizzler will continue on Saturday, with especially dry weather in the central hills and high humidity along the coast. Fortunately, the heat wave will dissipate on Sunday, though the Meteorological Service noted that temperatures will still be slightly higher than usual. Monday will be the same.

Read more: Heatwave grips Israel and the climate models are melting

The Health Ministry called 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 for the duration of the heatwave.

A restaurant in Jaffa, this week
Beach in Tel Aviv
Children playing at a water fountain, Ashdod
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Israelis fight the heat: A restaurant in Jaffa, August 3Credit: Hadas Frosch
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Israelis fight the heat: Tel Aviv beach, August 3Credit: Hadas Parush
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Israelis fight the heat: Children cool off in Ashdod, August 3Credit: Ilan Assayag

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.

Meanwhile, the Israel Fire and Rescue Services reiterated that bonfires in open areas are expressly banned until September 30 due to the extremely hot and dry weather conditions, which are prone to quickly-spread wildfires.

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 over 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.