Record-Breaking Heat Wave Withers Crops, Strains Power Reserves

YERUSHALAYIM -

The record-breaking heat wave which has descended on Israel and the surrounding region has caused extensive damage to crops and livestock and threatened to bring down the national power grid as demand for electricity soared.

In Yerushalayim, the temperature topped 100º Fahrenheit, while reaching 120°F in the southern Jordan Valley.

As a result, the country broke all electricity consumption records on Monday for the second consecutive day as air conditioners and fans ran everywhere — in offices, stores,  homes and public places.

Israel Electric Corporation said it was bracing for a most-ever 13,300 megawatts, leaving only 600 megawatts in reserve. The IEC put the public on notice of the probability of interruptions in service.

“The unusual weather conditions, combined with heat stress, moisture and dust, as well as local rainfall, can cause interference in in the electricity grid — due to short circuits caused by the meeting of rainfall with dust,” a statement from the IEC said.

“Because of the low electricity reserve, every production unit glitch, if peak power consumption occurs, could cause the system to experience power shortages. The IEC will provide updates about any changes or developments.”

Agricultural losses due to the extreme heat were estimated in the millions of shekels, as KANAT, the Insurance Fund for Natural Risks in Agriculture, recorded over 250 notifications of damage from farmers, with more anticipated.

The heat wave, which began last Thursday and is expected to last into Wednesday, has been killing turkeys, chickens and other livestock, and drying up watermelons, apples, nectarines, grapes, peppers, cabbage and eggplant, according to Arutz Sheva.

Authorities were already warning the public late last week to avoid being outside as much as possible and began taking the precaution of closing down certain hiking trails in remote areas. Hiking trails in Nahal Darga, Wadi Og and Nahal Prat, and all hiking trails near Eilat will be closed during this period.

Meanwhile, a sandstorm whipping across the Jordanian desert forced flights to Amman to divert to Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport on Sunday. Two Royal Jordanian flights landed at Ben Gurion, while flights operated by other Arab carriers, which refuse to land in Israel, were rerouted to Aqaba.