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Israel hit with rare October heatwave as summer swelter stretches into fall

Unseasonably warm weather to continue into weekend before subsiding, slightly, next week

People on the beach in Tel Aviv, during a nationwide lockdown. October 07, 2020. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)
People on the beach in Tel Aviv, during a nationwide lockdown. October 07, 2020. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

A rare October heatwave ramped up over Israel on Thursday, bringing blazing temperatures to many parts of the country as an alarmingly hot summer and fall continued to grip the region.

Jerusalem and Haifa were set for a searing 34° C (94° F) on Thursday afternoon, while Tel Aviv was set for a high of 33° (91° F).

The northern cities of Tiberias and Beit She’an and the southern resort town of Eilat were expected to see temperatures as high as 41° C (105° F).

The heat will linger through the weekend, before dipping slightly early next week, though it will remain unseasonably warm.

Average highs in October generally hover between 26° and 28° (79-82°F). In Eilat, the average daily high for the month is 31.1° (88°F), and in Jerusalem it is 25.3° C (77° F).

October heat waves are uncommon but not unprecedented, though they appear to be increasing in recent years. In 2019, temperatures spiked to nearly 40° C (104 °F) in some parts of the country on October 14 and 15. In 2009 and again in 2010, temperatures in late October soared, hitting 35°C (95°F)  in Jerusalem.

Experts say the number of hot days in the region is increasing, as well as the length of the hot season, due to global warming.

According to the Israel Meteorological Service, September was the hottest on record across most of the country. September 4 saw record-breaking heat in several cities, and a heatwave lingered for an unprecedented two weeks, only cooling to seasonal averages for a brief respite at the end of the month. Several deaths have been attributed to the heatwaves.

On Wednesday, the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service announced that September was the hottest on record globally. The monitor said 2020 was on pace to match 2016 as the hottest year ever recorded.

The heatwave in Israel catches the country as it is under nationwide lockdown to stem the coronavirus pandemic. It also comes as the country marks the final days of the Sukkot holiday.

Experts recommend staying indoors or in the shade and keeping hydrated during especially hot days.

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