The Longest, Hottest Day: Eilat Sizzles in 46-degree Heat

Summer, which began officially yesterday, was ushered in by a heat wave the likes of which the region has not seen for a considerable time. Wildfires broke out in various parts of the country and electricity consumption broke an all-time record. Some locations registered temperatures well above 40 degrees Celsius and similar conditions are expected this morning before the heat begins to break this afternoon in parts of the country, a trend that will continue. On Friday, temperatures will actually be below average.

Nahum Malik of the Meteotech weather service said his company registered a reading of 46 degrees in the shade yesterday in Eilat, adding that "it's possible there were places in the Jordan Valley where temperatures were even higher than that registered in Eilat." Meteotech said heat like this in June is very uncommon.

The heat wave has been caused by an air mass that moved into the area from Libya and Egypt and came at a time of year when the sunlight is especially strong. The new record level of electricity consumption yesterday - 10,600 megawatts - surpassed a previous record of 10,200 during a cold snap in January 2008.

The heat caused a major wildfire, that was extinguished, in woodlands in the Rosh Ha'ayin area. Blazes were also reported in the Kadima forest in the Sharon region, at Adulam Park in the Judean foothills and in Jerusalem. None of them caused injuries. In Be'er Sheva, a 72-year-old resident was treated for heatstroke after being found unconscious in his car.

During this period in 1942, June 21 and 22, the all-time record temperature in the country - 54 degrees Celsius - was registered at Tirat Zvi in the Jordan Valley. Meteotech's Malik said: "Today, for a change, we will be getting good news from Turkey." He explained that "cold air from Turkey will bring a drop in temperatures beginning in the afternoon, particularly in the coastal region and the lowlands."

He said tomorrow would see a cooling trend in other areas of the country, continuing into Friday, with a 5 to 10 degree drop in temperatures compared to that past two days. In addition to lower than normal temperatures on Friday, there could be light drizzle.