Israel braces for weekend heatwave
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Israel braces for weekend heatwave

Temperatures up to 43 degrees Celsius (109°F) predicted in some areas by Saturday; Health Ministry warns the elderly to stay out of the sun

A Palestinian rides his camel in the haze next to Nebi Musa Mosque, not seen, near the West Bank town of Jericho during a heat wave on May 4, 2009. (AP Photo/Dan Balilty)
A Palestinian rides his camel in the haze next to Nebi Musa Mosque, not seen, near the West Bank town of Jericho during a heat wave on May 4, 2009. (AP Photo/Dan Balilty)

Israel is heading into a heat wave, with temperatures expected to rise to more than 43°C (109°F) in some regions of the country over the weekend, the Israel Meteorological Service has forecast.

The Health Ministry on Tuesday issued a warning to the elderly and people with preexisting health conditions, instructing them to stay indoors, avoid unnecessary physical exertion and drink plenty of fluids as temperatures rise over the coming days.

According to the IMS, the heat will start building on Wednesday, with “mountains and inland areas becoming unseasonably hot up to extremely hot and dry conditions” as the day progresses.

By Saturday, “in most regions high till extremely heat stress indices will prevail” with temperatures reaching up to 41°C (105°F) in Afula and Beersheba, 43°C (109°F) in Beit She’an, 36-37°C (96.8°F) in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, and 34°C (93.2°F) in Safed.

The high temperatures are expected to persist into next week, with Bet She’an potentially reaching up to 46°C (114.8°F) and Tiberias 45°C (113°F) by Tuesday.

Young children play in the splash fountain at Teddy Park in Jerusalem as temperatures soar in a nationwide heat wave on July 17, 2019. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Last July was the hottest month across the globe ever measured, seeing records tumble across Europe and unusually high temperatures around the Arctic Circle as well.

During that searing month, the highest temperature in the country was recorded on the southern shores of the Dead Sea, near the site of Biblical Sodom, where the mercury hit 49.9° Celsius (122° Fahrenheit), a record for the spot.

The sweltering temperature was only a few degrees shy of the highest-ever temperature recorded in the country, 54°C (129°F) in June 1942 at Kibbutz Tirat Zvi in the northern Jordan Valley.

That summer’s heat was also blamed for starting a massive wave of fires nationwide, burning down homes in central Israel and forcing the evacuation of hundreds of Israelis.

As a result of the hot and dry weather, the Fire and Rescue Service last May heavily restricted the traditional bonfires kindled on the Lag B’Omer holiday, which falls between the festivals of Passover and Shavuot.

This year Lag B’Omer bonfires were also banned, not because of the weather but out of fear that they would encourage large gatherings, further spreading the coronavirus just as Israel is starting to get the COVID-19 pandemic under control.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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