Israel was struck by a heavy heatwave on Thursday, lasting until mid-next week and while prolonged heatwaves have been rare in Israel until now, climate experts anticipate that in the coming years, they will become a regular occurrence.
Intense heat loads will be felt across the country, with temperatures soaring up to 45℃ (113℉) in the Jordan Valley. Coastal and lowland areas will experience extremely high humidity levels.
In an interview with Ynet, Dr. Ami Givati, a hydrologist and climate expert, addressed the current heat wave and what we can expect in the coming years.
"Heatwaves occur every summer, but the real deviation is perhaps the duration that we feel it," he said, referring to the current heatwave. "Maybe we won't break records or reach temperatures above 45℃, as initially anticipated. However, the duration - starting today and lasting nearly a week - is abnormal. Typically, summer heatwaves are short-lived, but this time it will be long."
He also discussed the impact of greenhouse gas emissions and the climate crisis on extreme climate events like heat waves. "Almost certainly, it will continue and last. It's difficult to predict how many days. While heatwaves were once short and rare, now their frequency is increasing, and their duration is extending," Dr. Givati said.
"In the United States, they are currently experiencing heatwaves lasting three weeks. This was unheard of before. In Texas, the power grid was damaged. On the other side of the globe in India, we hear about devastating floods. We are witnessing an escalation. A week-long heatwave is likely becoming the new standard."
Dr. Givati stated that days like those at the beginning of the week, when the weather was relatively comfortable for summer months, will become rarer in the near future. "There will hardly be any days of relief, like the past few days with clouds and drizzles," he said.
"It's going to be a prolonged heatwave. Toward the end of the century, it will be very frightening. Some projections indicate temperatures 3-5℃ (6-10℉) higher than the current average - the normal summer weather will be close to 40℃ (104℉). It's an extreme scenario. It's quite alarming."
The climate expert mentioned last year's heatwave in Europe, which caused numerous fatalities. "Europe experienced its most extreme heatwave ever in 2022," he said. "Official reports speak of around 66,000 fatalities. These are vulnerable populations. Sometimes it occurs without us realizing it - there are populations affected by heatwaves."
Dr. Givati calls to prepare for long and extreme heatwaves, which are expected to hit in the coming years. "If by 2026 we are not ready for these extreme heatwaves in terms of energy and agriculture, we will experience power outages. I sincerely hope that those responsible for the systems prepare for these forecasts and take safety measures. We see that it's always underestimated and always worsens. Europe did not do this, and in Europe, they define it as a catastrophe," he said.
Due to the anticipated heatwave, the Nature and Parks Authority announced a complete ban on lighting fires in all nature reserves and national parks due to the risk of wildfires, starting Thursday and until Sunday. The Jewish National Fund also announced a ban on lighting fires in all forests, at least until Sunday.