It’s not unusual to have hot weather in November in Israel, but this hot and lasting for this long is something else.
Meteorologists have been comparing it to the searing experience of November 2010, when a massive fire apparently caused by tinderbox conditions of high temperatures and dry air killed 44 people in the Mount Carmel forest.
In Yerushalayim, temperatures reached 79 degrees Fahrenheit during the day on Sunday; Haifa recorded 90 degrees and Eilat 91.
Hopes of relief, initially thought to come on Monday, were dashed on Sunday as the Israeli meterological service forecast even hotter weather through Wednesday, with a chance of rain on Thursday.
“For almost a week we have been experiencing a meteorological phenomenon, which causes a south-east flow in our region and brings the air from Saudi Arabia and Jordan,” Meteo-Tech forecaster Tzachi Waksman told Ynet.
“Low levels of humidity are mixed with high humidity in upper levels of the atmosphere brought straight from tropical parts of Africa, which might lead to drizzles in eastern parts of the country.”
Waksman noted that high atmospheric pressure above Israel, extending from Iran to Greece, prevents cold air from central Europe to penetrate the local atmosphere.
“The last time a heatwave this long struck was in November 2010, when it lasted for almost three weeks,” said Waksman. “November heatwaves happen almost every year, but usually last up to two days … This is long and unusually long.”
The heat and dryness were the likely cause of multiple fires on Sunday.
Firefighters reportedly brought a forest fire under control in Tzur Hadassah, in the Judean Hills, not far from the capital, after several hours.
Strong winds, which have also been prevalent, contributed to rapid spreading of the blaze, hampering the efforts of 18 firefighting and rescue teams, aided by planes dropping chemical fire retardant.
Additionally, 15 firefighting crews were deployed to Ein Shemer in the north.
Another fire broke out near the village of Dohi in Afula on Sunday morning.
B’chasdei Shamayim, no injuries were reported, and damage to homes and evacuations were minor. The amount of land that was scorched was not yet known.