According to the Israel Meteorological Service’s annual summary, in 2023 there were four unusual rain events in late May and in June, prolonged and unusual heat waves in July and August and uncharacteristically heavy rain in November and December

Zafrir Rinat. Jan 1, 2024

2023 was hotter than average, and it is rated the second to third-hottest year since measurements began in 1950, according to the initial annual summary of the Israel Meteorological Service published on Sunday. 

During the course of the year, there were several unusual weather events and periods, like storm Barbara in early February, which brought strong winds and a great deal of snow in the northern mountains, as well as four unusual rain events which came to Israel from tropical southern locales in late May and in June. There were also prolonged and unusual heat waves in July and August, and there was uncharacteristically heavy rain in November and December.

The warming trend is characteristic of most of the years since the end of the last century, and it has intensified in the past 15 years. Since 2008, most of the years have been warmer than average compared to the reference period (1991 to 2020). 2023 stands out as a particularly hot year – only 2010 was significantly hotter, and 2018 was very similar. The other years were not as hot. These are similar to worldwide trends related to the climate crisis.

From late May until mid-June, our region experienced four unusual weather events originating in tropical southern regions. They included nationwide rainfall, thunderstorms, high temperatures, strong winds and dust storms. Each event in itself was unusual for this period, and such a sequence of events is highly unusual.

Due to these events, rain fell everywhere in the country in June. This is an unprecedented distribution for June, when rain is generally local in nature. 

In July and August there were exceptionally prolonged heat waves. From July 12 to July 29, there was a long heat wave with daily maximum temperatures 4 to 7 degrees higher than average.

Tel Aviv in summer 2023.

During the first part of the 2023/2024 rainy season, there were few rains, but some involved large amounts, which resulted in a cumulative rainfall that was greater than the average for the corresponding period. In several places, mainly in the north, there were short periods of unusually large and even unprecedented rainfall during various events in November and December.

According to the annual summary of the Israel Hydrological Service in the Water Authority, in 2023 precipitation was below the multiyear average. This is after four years that were described as rainy. In virtually all the water reservoirs, the levels are above the red (threshold) lines. Lake Kinneret, for the first time this century, completed four consecutive years in which at the end of the hydrological year (October) the lake was above the level recommended for drawing water from it. 

This positive situation was created as a result of the consecutive years with increased precipitation and also because most of our water needs are now provided by desalination facilities, and therefore the pumping of water from the lake has been reduced significantly in recent years. 

The only water reservoir where the negative trend continues on a regular basis is the Dead Sea, which for many years hasn’t received water from the Jordan and Yarmouk rivers, which are used for the needs of the countries in the region. On average, the level of the Dead Sea has fallen in the past 30 years by one meter a year.