This Was the Hottest September Ever Recorded in Israel

The heat wave broke records not only for how hot it got but how long the heat lasted, as similar records have been broken around the world, attributed to climate change

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Bathers at Wadi Kelt, also known as Nahal Prat, in the West Bank, September, 2020.
Bathers at Wadi Kelt, also known as Nahal Prat, in the West Bank, Sept., 2020.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

Last month was the hottest September on record by a large margin in much of the country, according to data released on Thursday by the Israel Meteorological Service.

Records were broken not only in terms of how high the mercury climbed, with many parts of the country recording all-time September highs, but also in terms of how long the unusual heat lasted.

In the hills and interior, average temperatures – both daytime and nighttime – were the hottest on record, breaking the previous highs set five years ago by a large margin. In addition, even when compared to the summer months, this September was the fourth-hottest month in the last 70 years, exceeded only by August 2010, August 2015 and July 2017.

This year was only the second time in the last 70 years that September was hotter than July and August. The last time that happened was in 1986.

Bathers at the Ein Lavan spring outside Jerusalem in September, 2020.
Bathers at the Ein Lavan spring outside Jerusalem in September, 2020.Credit: Emil Salman

On average, daytime temperatures in Israel’s hills and interior this September were 3 to 4.5 degrees Celsius higher than the average for 1995 through 2009, the weather service said. And in some places, the disparity was 5 degrees or more.

Along the Mediterranean coast, daytime temperatures were 2 to 3 degrees above average. And even at night, temperatures in most of the country were 2.5 to 4 degrees higher than average.

Almost every day in September was hotter than average, particularly during the first half of the month. The highest temperature – 48.9 degrees – was recorded in Eilat, which had never before measured a reading that high at any time of the year. All-time highs were also recorded in the north at Kfar Blum (47 degrees) and Ayelet Hashahar (46.6 degrees).

The length of the heat wave was also exceptional. Jerusalem, for instance, experienced 24 straight days of temperatures above 31 degrees – from August 28 to September 20. Not since weather measurements began in 1867 has the city experienced a similarly long heat wave in September. Even in July and August, there have been only two such cases, in 1887 and 1992.

Similarly, Be’er Sheva experienced 12 straight days of temperatures over 36 degrees, something that has happened only twice in the recorded past – in September 1931 and August 1922.

Israel is not alone in this regard. Many parts of the world have experienced record-breaking temperatures in recent years, which scientists attribute to climate change.

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