Israelis Can Breathe Easy Again as Record Heat Wave Breaks

Last few days were unusually warm and heavily hazy, prompting Health Ministry to release warning.

The last in a series of heat waves over February and March ended Monday, and the next two days should be cool and pleasant, meteorologists said.

In Tel Aviv, temperatures of 20 Celsius were recorded Monday, after reaching a rare 35 last week. In Jerusalem, temperatures will drop as low as 15 on Thursday, and some areas may see rain in the next two days.

The last few days were not only unusually warm, but heavily hazy, due to natural dust carried from the south. The high concentration of breathable particles prompted the Health Ministry to release warnings for populations at risk.

Although some 200 people were taken to the hospital with breathing difficulties over the last seven days, Magen David Adom said this did not go beyond the average numbers of such cases in the season.

Seventy percent of the cases were reported as ordinary breathing difficulties, and 30 percent as acute breathing problems. Additionally, 10 people were taken to the hospital with asthma attacks.

"This is the normal number of people taken to the hospital for the season, and despite the difficult weather, no unusual deviations were reported," a statement from Magen David Adom spokesman Zachi Heller said.

According to the Meteorological Service, the latest heat wave lasted an unusual seven days, an all time record for the Negev and the mountain areas. In 2008, the longest heat wave lasted 5 days, but temperatures were considerably higher.

The adverse weather conditions also caused delays in local aviation services. Sde Dov and Herzliya airports were closed yesterday for landings due to the heavy haze, and an Arkia flight to Sde Dov was redirected to Ben-Gurion Airport.

Sde Dov was also closed for landings on Friday, from 10 A.M. to 5 P.M. Two flights from Eilat were redirected to Ben-Gurion Airport, and passengers were taken to Sde Dov by bus.

Herzliya Airport, which was completely closed for several hours yesterday, is mainly used for training and for light aircrafts. Such planes are normally not equipped for flying in severe weather conditions.