A severe and unusual heat wave that brought record high
temperatures for this time of year has lessened and is
expected to break completely on Tuesday. The rest of the week
is expected to be about average for May. This type of heat is
known as a chamsin or sharav.
49 degrees Celsius (nearly 122 Fahrenheit) in the shade was
recorded at the Allenby Bridge crossing in the Jordan Valley,
the highest reading since 1942 at any time of the year. The
all time high there was 51 degrees in June 1942. A new record
was set in Eilat, as well, where the temperature reached 45.1
Celsius (about 113 Fahrenheit). The previous record was 45
degrees, recorded in 1980. In June, 1942, 45 degrees was also
recorded at Kibbutz Tirat Zvi in the north.
The Meteorological Service said cooler weather and a marked
drop in temperatures is expected for Tuesday through to the
weekend. However, it was still hotter than usual for the
season. In the Jordan Valley, the Dead Sea, Eilat and the
Negev, temperatures on Tuesday were still expected to be
above 37 degrees (98.6F). On the Mediterranean shore, though,
temperatures were not expected to above 30 degrees (86F) and
in the Judean mountains, they were expected to remain between
28 (82F) and 30. It was predicted that a further drop in
temperatures would occur by Wednesday. Uri Batz, duty
forecaster at the Beit Dagan weather station, said that there
is a chance of rain and even thunderstorms in the Arava and
Jordan Valley and an attendant risk of flooding.
The heat wave put a strain on the Electric Corporation's
generating capacity, which was almost stretched to the limit
to meet demand caused by the sudden increased use of air
conditioners. The unusually early time caught the Electric
Corporation unprepared, as some 2,000 megawatts of its
capacity was unavailable due to renovations and maintenance.
Peak demand on Monday was 6,390 megawatts at 2:30 in the
afternoon, only 10 megawatts short of the available power.
Last year demand on that date was only 4,525 megawatts.
The hot and dry conditions contributed to fires that broke
out in several regions. Blazes were reported on the Golan
Heights, in several places in the Haifa area, including about
20 dunams of forest near Usfiya on Mount Carmel and near Kfar
Hassidim. Most of the fires were brought under control
quickly with the aid of light cropdusting planes.