Weather (or Not)
Here are some things you should know about Israeli weather:
Technically, there are only two seasons – winter and summer. Spring and fall are very short, if they exist at all. The seasonal changes are quite abrupt. It can be stifling hot one day – a “sharav,” or “hamsin,” as the burst of heat coming from the desert is called - and the next day you are rummaging in the closet to find your winter coat. The most changeable times of the year are September-November and April-May.
Now, there are not too many definite things in this world, but one of them is this: There is no rain in Israel in the summer. By summer, I mean June, July and August. The first rain of the season is usually toward the end of September, but often there is very little until mid-November.
This is when Israelis start worrying. Because no rain means the level of Israel’s major source of water – the Kinneret – starts to drop. Most of the winter season is taken up with hoping and praying that rainfall will be sufficient to fill the lake and aquifers. Water is a precious resource in this part of the world. You don’t leave the tap running when you wash dishes, or when you brush your teeth. You don’t hose down your car. You don’t fill bathtubs to the top.
When it does rain in Israel, it doesn't last for long. It might rain a day here and a day there, rather than days at a time. The rainiest parts of Israel are the Galilee and Haifa in the north. The driest are Eilat and the Negev in the south. Heavy rains do fall occasionally, taxing the sewer systems and turning some cities into a mini-Venice for a few hours, but again, it doesn’t happen often. Another bit of weather info that may surprise you is that it SNOWS in Israel. Jerusalem gets snow about once a year or once every two years, and of course, it creates a lot of excitement. The whole city shuts down and people from all over the country jump into their cars and rush to see the white stuff before it melts (which is usually very soon).
Remember that Israel may be a small country, but temperatures fluctuate widely – not only from place to place, but between day and night. In many places, there can be a 10-degree difference between day and night. For Israeli winters, you don't need an Alaskan parka, but you do need a light coat or jacket that is roomy enough for a sweater or sweatshirt underneath. Layers are the way to go. Summers are hot, but the dry heat of Jerusalem and Eilat is much easier to tolerate than the humidity of Tel Aviv and the center of the country.