When you think about Israel’s weather you probably think of nice warm, or very hot, days in the sun. Those who have been in winter, particularly to Jerusalem, will know that the country is in fact often cold and snow is not unusual. However, sometimes the weather goes a bit extreme and you get some really unusual events.
Back in 1950 Israel had the most snow since meteorological measurements started in 1870. That year it snowed across most of the country, even in Tel Aviv! The weather event began in early January when a hailstorm hit Tel Aviv and some snow fell in Jerusalem and the Upper Galilee. Then towards the end of the month it started to snow properly in the north and in Jerusalem before spreading to the rest of the country. The next day it snowed in Haifa and in Tel Aviv. Admittedly, there wasn’t much snow in Tel Aviv, only about ten minutes worth, but it is extremely unusual for that to happen and for many school children it was the first time they had seen snow.
However, a week later things became more interesting. On February 6th and 7th heavy snow fell across the country. It reached 60cm in Safed, 100cm in Jerusalem, 17cm in Haifa and up to 19cm in Tel Aviv. There was even 8cm of snow at the Dead Sea.
If you are spending you gap year in Tel Aviv you may have thought that you would be safe from the cold. However, while snow is an extremely rare event, it could very easily hail in the winter months and as 1950 shows, snow isn’t impossible.
If you are going on your gap year hoping for plenty of time in the sun then don’t worry as the last few years have produced some of Israel’s hottest ever summers. The highest temperature ever recorded in Israel is 54°C at Tirat Tzvi back in 1942, but that kind of head is extremely unusual and even in the hottest parts of the country it is very rare for the temperature to reach 50°C.
In the summer months you can expect it to be around 30°C in Jerusalem and slightly hotter, 32-35°C, in Tel Aviv. Depending on where you are from this may or may not seem hot to you, but compared to 54°C it is a very comfortable temperature!
Occasionally other events can result in some very strange weather. For instance, back in 2011 an ash cloud from an Eritrean volcano reached the country turning things very dusty. More common is to see the whole country turn slightly orange or red. The country regularly suffers from sandstorms in surrounding countries and this can give the entire sky an eerie orange glow. These storms are unpleasant for a number of reasons, not only is it horrible to breath in sand, but afterwards everything is coated in a layer of fine red sand that is a pain to clean.
Don’t let the above worry you, for most of your gap year program in Israel you are likely to have completely average weather, suitable for having a great time and getting to know the country in all conditions.