Defense Ministry preparing for extreme hot weather as climate change sets in

Emergency authority, weather bureau write up scenario envisioning heat waves hitting up to 49° Celsius

Enjoying the last hours of a vey hot day at Poleg beach in Netanya on July 28, 2022. (Michael Giladi/Flash90)
Enjoying the last hours of a vey hot day at Poleg beach in Netanya on July 28, 2022. (Michael Giladi/Flash90)

The Defense Ministry said Sunday that it has put together an extreme weather scenario for government ministries so the country can prepare for the possibility of a crisis caused by scorching temperatures during summer heatwaves.

The document imagines two “severe” heatwaves of three to four days each, twice a month, throughout the summer from June to September, with temperatures reaching up to 49 degrees Celsius (120.2 degrees Fahrenheit) in some areas. Conditions will be slightly milder in May and October, it said.

The document was prepared by the ministry’s National Emergency Management Authority together with the Israel Meteorological Service.

“As a result of the increase in climate-related events in recent years, NEMA and the Israel Meteorological Service have formulated reference scenarios for extreme weather like floods, fires, and the new reference scenario for extreme heat waves,” it said in a statement.

The weather scenario envisioned electricity consumption jumping by 10 percent, with mortality rates rising to 8.5% above the average for those months.

Average hospitalization due to cardiovascular diseases could be 10%-15% higher, it said.

The hot weather would also bring an increased chance of fires.

“The scenario we are distributing to government ministries showcases the implications of a serious event,” said the director of the National Emergency Management Authority, Brig. Gen. (Res.) Yoram Laredo. “The scenario is a binding document and forms the basis for the preparation of government ministries and planning and operative bodies.”

In the coastal plain, the temperature was seen as reaching 35° Celsius (95° F) with over 50% humidity. Meanwhile, mountainous regions could go up to 42°C (107.6°F), with the Negev Desert and northern valleys hitting 44°C (111.2°F) and the Jordan Valley and Arava region climbing to 49°C (120.2°F).

The ministry said it considers a heat wave to be a long period of hot weather “that affects large parts of the country’s population or large areas within the country, causes disruptions to daily life, and leads to considerable economic damage to the point of harming human life.”

While the peak of a heat wave is usually three-four days, they usually also include a week to 10 days of above-average temperatures. There can also be two such periods during the same month with only a short break between them.

Crisis events require early preparation, coordination, and the cooperation of several entities and authorities “in order to reduce damage and return to normal circumstances as quickly as possible,” the statement said.

Last week, Israeli researchers warned that by the end of the century some 330 people could die in the country every year from heat stress due to global warming gas emissions.

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