Worst Dust Storm in Israel’s History to Dissipate in Time for New Year

“Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward the sky so that darkness spreads over Egypt—darkness that can be felt.” So Moses stretched out his hand toward the sky, and total darkness covered all Egypt for three days. No one could see anyone else or move about for three days. Yet all the Israelites had light in the places where they lived.” (Exodus 10:21-23)

The worst dust storm in Israeli history is about to disappear in time for Rosh Hashanna, the Jewish New Year. There is expected to be a drop in temperatures on Saturday night though it will still be unseasonably warm. Scattered showers are expected in the south of Israel on Sunday afternoon. Temperatures are expected to continue dropping, with scattered showers in the south.

The storm, which began on Tuesday, was accompanied by unseasonably high temperatures, leading to record electric usage from air conditioning demands, according to figures announced by the Israel Electric Corporation.

The Environmental Protection Ministry reported that in several parts of the country, air pollution levels were at their worst in the country’s 75 year history. Air pollution in Jerusalem was 173 times higher than average, 51 times higher in the Negev, and 32 times higher in the Galilee.

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On Wednesday evening, the ministry issued a warning advising Israelis against being outside for extended periods, and to avoid any excessive outdoor physical activity. Despite a significant improvement in air quality the ministry is still advising people with heart or lung conditions, children and pregnant women to refrain from strenuous physical activity out of doors. Over 600 Israelis were treated by the Magen David Adom (MDA) last week for symptoms related to the extreme weather.

Domestic airlines cancelled all flights but they were resumed on Thursday,

The sand storm, which also affected Lebanon, Syria, Egypt and Cyprus, confused scientists and meteorologist, who were caught by surprise by the unprecedented phenomenon.  Prof. Uri Dayan, an expert on dust storms from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, told Xinhua that some have been linking the storm to the war in Syria. He explained that farmers were forced to leave their fields, which may have led the arid and dusty terrain to be more prone to dust storms. The conditions in Israel were caused by dust from Syria, drifting south-west towards northern Jordan and Israel. He also noted that dust storms of this type rarely last more than 24-hours. Others claim the dust storm is a result of global warming.