In Israel, weather is a “hot” topic – a bad summer means particularly high temperatures and humidity, unlike Europe where it means a particularly cold and rainy season. While tourists flock to Israel to lie in the sun, Israelis leave the country in droves to get away from the summer heat.
In 2010, Israel weather forecasters saw the hottest year since records began. It started in early Spring with excessive heat waves and reached a peak in August with average temperatures over two degrees higher than in previous years. On one of the days, the meteorological office in Be’er Sheva, in the south of the country, recorded an all time high of 43.8 degrees celsius!
According to a study conducted at Tel Aviv University in Israel, weather in the Middle East is being affected by global warming, as everywhere else. Hotter summers and shorter, drier winters are going to be the trend for the future. The study also predicts more extreme weather conditions with heavy rains and storms in the winter and hot, dry heat waves in the Spring and Autumn.
Even though it is such a small country, Israel’s varied topography means it has more than one type of climate. The hot, humid summers and winter rains are typical of the Mediterranean climate in the northern and central areas of the country. But in the south, in the Arava and the Judean deserts, the desert climate means hot, dry summers with low humidity and some rainfall in the winter. Mount Hermon and the surrounding mountainous region in the far north, has a temperate climate with generally cooler temperatures year round and even some snow on high ground in the winter.
But even on Mount Hermon, there has been less snow in recent years, and therefore less water from melted snow and ice flowing into the tributaries which feed the Sea of Galilee (also known as Lake Kinneret) and the Dead Sea. The combination of higher temperatures and lower rainfall is endangering these two beautiful wonders of nature. Water is lost through vaporization during the hot, dry summer months and despite the relatively high rainfall at the end of the winter and the more moderate summer temperatures in 2011, the Sea of Galilee dropped 32 cm in August alone and the water level continues to be below the red danger line.