For the fourth morning in a row, heavy fog descended on coastal areas of Israel Wednesday, blanketing towns and reducing vision for drivers, with a meteorological expert saying the phenomenon is being caused by an unusual warm, dry period of atmospheric stability.
The fog covered the central and southern coastal plain, south-central Israel, and the northeastern Negev desert region. It was particularly heavy in the area of Tel Aviv.
The weather phenomenon, whose impact was first felt in Israel on Sunday, is most prevalent in the morning and can persist as late as noon.
Amit Savir of the Israel Meteorological Service told Kan News that the fog was the result of a mid-winter dry period.
“Unusually there is now a holding back of rain, accompanied by hot air that traps the moisture beneath it, and does not allow the thin layer of moisture adjacent to the ground to dissipate,” Savir explained. “It’s unusual to have three weeks without rain in the middle of winter, with spring-like weather. Once every few years there is such a phenomenon.”
Climate expert Amir Givati also told Army Radio that such fog can appear at the beginning or end of winter, but that it is unusual for it to come in the middle of the season.
A recent dry spell in Israel has come in the wake of a particularly wet autumn. Heavy rains followed by an out-of-season dry period is a symptom of global warming, Givati said.
He explained that this year the North Pole experienced particularly hot conditions, limiting the blast of cold air it usually sends south in the winter and disrupting weather patterns.
“It is a little worrying,” he said.
Nonetheless, the current very dry, stable conditions are expected to finally begin to ebb by next week, when more wintry conditions are expected to return, he predicted.
On Monday the dense fog grounded planes at Ben Gurion Airport, with some flights that were planning to land in Tel Aviv redirected.
The weather is different from the yellow-tinged haze caused by dust in the air, which sometimes drifts in, including during two sandstorms that blanketed the country in 2015 that were the worst since modern Israel’s establishment in 1948.