Thursday, 27 June 2019
(Reading time: 2 - 3 minutes)

Call it what you want: Heatwave, Hamsin or Sharav - 50 days of heat & dust.

Current weather conditions in Israel: hot and getting hotter.

Hebrew:  אקלים ומזג האוויר בישראל - שרב או חמסין

heatwave

The temperature for the next few days is expected to reach into the high 30's in some parts and in Eilat, Tiberias and Beat Shean temperatures of 40+ C degrees are predicted. A Sharav or Hamsin prevails.

What is a Hamsin?

"Hamsin" is an Arabic word. You might see it spelled like this: khamsin, khamseen, khamaseen, chamsin or hamsin. The name originates from the Arabic word for 'fifty' - khamsin, or similarly in Hebrew - chamishim. It refers to a unique set of weather conditions mostly in the spring and early summer months. In short a "hamsin" is an oppressive, hot southerly or southeasterly, sandy wind blowing up from North Africa in the spring and summer months. There are approximately 50 days in a year when these weather conditions prevail in the Levant; North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula - hence the name.

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A Sharav

Even though the Hebrew word for hot is "cham" it has nothing to do with the Arabic word "chamsin" . In Hebrew this weather condition is called a 'sharav' but in Israel it is commonly referred to by the Arabic name - hamsin.

Typically, in Israel, during a Sharav, temperatures  can increase by 10° C within a few hours . This oppressive, dry heat is often accompanied by large amounts of dust. Be prepared if you are an allergy sufferer! Typically this weather condition lasts for a few days at a time. As soon as the Sharav breaks, the wind changes direction, and a cool sea breeze generally follows. Sometimes there is light rain too.

This extreme heat and wind is of great concern to farmers in Israel; crops can easily be damaged or destroyed.

What to do?

  1. You can dehydrate very quickly; take preventative measures and drink plenty of water.
  2. You might be tempted to do a few loads of laundry but remember that the sharav often brings dust and sand and these fine particles will settle on the newly laundered items.
  3. It might seem like a good idea to go to the beach and catch some rays, be careful,  this can be dangerous. Keep out of the direct sun.
  4. If you're in a car and driving long distances, keep the air conditioner on and regularly check on the welfare of small children who are with you in the vehicle.  Never, ever leave children, or the family pet alone in the car, even for a couple of minutes. The inside temperature of a car rapidly increases and can be life threatening when there is not adequate ventilation.  Let us not hear of another terrible tragedy!
  5. Head for the shopping mall and spend the day in cool, air-conditioned comfort!