One of Israel's Coldest Marches Ever Lingers, but Slowly Makes Way for Spring

A climate expert believes that warming at the earth's poles is to blame for the influx of cold winds in Israel

Zafrir Rinat
Zafrir Rinat
A stormy day in the Golan Heights, this month.
A stormy day in the Golan Heights, this month.Credit: Gil Eliahu
Zafrir Rinat
Zafrir Rinat

Israel's chilly weather will continue for a few more days before subsiding for warmer spring conditions, making this month one of the coldest Marches ever recorded in Israel.

The present cold wave began on March 11, when daytime temperatures in Israel were 7 to 8 degrees Celsius lower on average inland, and 5 to 6 degrees lower along the Mediterranean coast, said the Israel Meteorological Service. During the night, average temperatures were 5 to 6 degrees colder at areas with higher altitudes — such as the Judean Hills — and 4 to 5 degrees colder in the rest of the country.

Flowers blooming in the upper Galilee.Credit: Gil Eliahu

The cold spell will persist for a few more days, the Meteorological Service believes, but it will only be able to evaluate how exceptional this March has been at the end of the month. Nevertheless, March 2022 will most likely be one of the coldest since records in Israel began, with March 1953 currently holding the title. Forecasting models in Israel predict that this trend will change next week, when warmer spring conditions will finally return.

The Meteorological Service compared the middle third of the month – March 11 through 20 – over the decades at a number of meteorological stations around the country to determine the full extent of the cold spell. At Beit Dagan, just to the east of Tel Aviv, and at Mount Canaan in the northern city of Safed, the temperatures this month were unprecedented. The measurements began at Beit Dagan in 1962 and in Safed in 1939.

In Jerusalem, where such recorded temperature measurements date back to 1867, a few similar cases of such a cold 10-day period were found in the distant past: In 1886, 1894, 1907, 1910 and 1928 – but these involved only the minimum temperatures.

Snow in Jerusalem in 1953.Credit: GPO

Nahum Malik, a forecaster at the Meteo-Tek forecasting service, said an analysis of the weather systems shows a high pressure system has developed in Europe that is blocking the flow of cold air from the direction of Scandinavia and the North Pole. As a result, the flow of the cold air has instead been pushed toward the Eastern Mediterranean region.

Climate expert Dr. Amir Givati believes there is a link between the present cold spell and climate change. With poles warming at an even faster pace, Givati argues, the winds there are weakening. As a result, instead of wind blowing from east to west at high latitudes, the wind moves from north to south, meaning southern latitudes – such as Israel – receive freezing air. A similar phenomenon was seen at the end of the winter last year in the southern United States, where the cold wave in Texas set new record lows.

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