Israel hit by new heat wave: Country to swelter for several days

Temperatures and humidity will rise and stay high until Monday at least; officials urge public to take extra care outside

Illustrative: A sunset behind the mountains as seen from Mevo Horon, December 15, 2021. (Mendy Hechtman/Flash90)
Illustrative: A sunset behind the mountains as seen from Mevo Horon, December 15, 2021. (Mendy Hechtman/Flash90)

Israel was set to go through yet another searing heat wave starting on Saturday, with rises in temperature and humidity throughout the country.

Tel Aviv could expect 31-32°C (88-89°F), with Jerusalem at 36°C (97°F) and temperatures in Eilat, Tiberias and Beit Shean crossing 40°C (104°F).

Temperatures were expected to rise even further on Sunday, though scattered showers were also possible. Monday will see the heat abate only slightly, with further relief later in the week.

Medical officials urged the public to avoid the sun during peak hours, drink plenty of water and give particular attention to children and the elderly.

Earlier this week the European climate monitoring organization officially confirmed that July was Earth’s hottest month on record by a wide margin.

July’s global average temperature of 16.95°C (62.51°F) was a third of a degree Celsius (six-tenths of a degree Fahrenheit) higher than the previous record set in 2019, Copernicus Climate Change Service, a division of the European Union’s space program, announced Tuesday.

Normally global temperature records are broken by hundredths or a tenth of a degree, so this margin is unusual.

“These records have dire consequences for both people and the planet exposed to ever more frequent and intense extreme events,” said Copernicus deputy director Samantha Burgess.

There have been deadly heat waves in the southwestern United States and Mexico, Europe and Asia. Scientific quick studies put the blame on human-caused climate change from the burning of coal, oil and natural gas.

File: Men shower at a public beach as they take refuge from a summer heat wave in Tel Aviv, Israel on Thursday, July 13, 2023. (AP/Maya Alleruzzo)

The month was 1.5°C (2.7°F) warmer than pre-industrial times. In 2015, the nations of the world agreed to try to prevent long-term warming — not individual months or even years, but decades — that is 1.5 degrees warmer than pre-industrial times.

Last month was so hot, it was 0.7°C (1.3 degrees Fahrenheit) hotter than the average July from 1991 to 2020, Copernicus said. The world’s oceans were half a degree Celsius (0.9°F) warmer than the previous 30 years and the North Atlantic was 1.05°C (1.9°F) hotter than average. Antarctica set record lows for sea ice, 15% below average for this time of year.

Copernicus’ records go back to 1940. That temperature would be hotter than any month the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has recorded and its records go back to 1850. But scientists say it’s actually the hottest in a far longer time period.

File: A musician plays an accordion under an umbrella to shelter from the sun at the Duomo cathedral square, in Milan, Italy, Tuesday, July 18, 2023 (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

“It’s a stunning record and makes it quite clearly the warmest month on Earth in ten thousand years,” said Stefan Rahmstorf, a climate scientist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Research in Germany. He wasn’t part of the Copernicus team.

Rahmstorf cited studies that use tree rings and other proxies that show present times are the warmest since the beginning of the Holocene Epoch, about 10,000 years ago. And before the Holocene started there was an ice age, so it would be logical to even say this is the warmest record for 120,000 years, he said.

“We should not care about July because it’s a record, but because it won’t be a record for long,” said Imperial College of London climate scientist Friederike Otto. “It’s an indicator of how much we have changed the climate. We are living in a very different world, one that our societies are not adapted to live in very well.”

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