The heat wave that swept Israel on Wednesday reached its peak at Sodom, near the Dead Sea, where the mercury hit 49.9 degrees Celsius (almost 122 degrees Fahrenheit).
This is the highest temperature ever recorded since Israel was founded in 1948, and the second highest ever recorded in the area since national weather data gathering began in the 1920s during the British Mandate, said the Israel Meteorological Service.
The hottest temperature ever recorded in Israel was 54 degrees Celsius (129.2 Fahrenheit) in 1942 at Kibbutz Tirat Zvi in the northern Jordan Valley.
Even though extreme temperatures have been recorded in the distant past, the new absolute heat records in recent years demonstrate that global climate change and warming have affected both average temperatures and extreme highs, said the Meteorological Service.
“Even though it is hard to attribute an isolated event to climate change, according to the best estimates, warming will continue so we expect an increase in the number of extreme heat waves and a higher probability of breaking more temperature records,” said the Meteorological Service in a statement.
This heat wave covered all of Israel and was uncharacteristic of July, with very low humidity, 10 percent to 25 percent – even along the coast. A number of weather stations recorded their highest temperatures ever, and the heat in the coastal plain and just inland set new records for July – by a degree to a degree and a half. But the records that were broken were only set in July of last year.
Such weather near the Mediterranean coast is somewhat rare, usually occurring only once in 5 to 10 years – but has been happening much more often over the past decade, every 2 or 3 years.