Yaron Finzi, Noam Gantz, Yoash Limon – Dead Sea and Arava Science Center, Mitzpe Ramon Sebastian Langer – Fioscope, Germany
The residents of Mitzpe Ramon always claim that their summer weather is best in the country! Upon returning home from central Israel, Be’er Sheva, or Eilat – the relief is evident. However, during the winter, strong winds, low temperatures, and even snow, cause some residents to hide at home under the blankets…
As part of an emergency preparedness study, we attempted to define extreme climatic conditions – which may affect those who are evacuated from their homes or who lose their power supply, for example in the days following a severe earthquake. Extreme weather can strongly affect the periphery – because it may be disconnected from electricity or water supply after a natural disaster, and because the infrastructure may not be sufficient to accommodate the residents and tourists evacuated from the danger zone.
Based on definitions from the Meteorological Service – we counted how many moderate heat-stress days have occurred each month since 2004. Moderate heat-stress is defined as a felt temperature above 24 degrees. To define ‘cold load’ – we used international classifications of wind chill and counted how many nights a month, on average, the perceived temperature is below 4 degrees.
We found that in Mitzpe Ramon, there are, on average, 43 heat-stress days per year, and 29 cold load days (which usually occur during the night).
Number of cold and heat stress days in Mitzpe Ramon:
Compared to Mitzpe Ramon, the rest of the Negev suffers from many more heat-stress days during summer, and naturally, fewer cold load nights during winter. In Eilat, and along the Arava and the Dead Sea, there are about 180-200 days of heat-stress days per year! In Be’er Sheva there are about 160, and in Tel Aviv about 135 of heat-stress days per year! That is 3-5 times as many heat-stress days as Mitzpe Ramon experiences.
The following chart shows results of heat-stress (days) and cold-stress (nights):
Heat and cold extremes do not affect us only in times of crisis!
People become acclimatized to the ‘normal’ weather conditions of their environment, and suffer only in extreme conditions. Therefore, we wanted to compare the frequency of extreme conditions during the time when most residents are most exposed and free to experience their surroundings. We counted how many times a month heat or cold load conditions occur in the evening (5:00 PM-8:00 PM). This is when most residents return from work, relax outside, go see the sunset, or go for a walk. The evening hours are also magical for tourists and guests to the desert.
We saw that of all the settlements of the Negev (and also Tel Aviv), Mitzpe Ramon is blessed with the fewest extreme climate days!
The number of days with extreme heat and cold during the afternoon-evening hours:
Why is the weather so mild in Mitzpe Ramon?
The explanation is simple – the topographic elevation (850 m) and distance from the sea lower the temperatures in summer and makes the air drier. During summer, the wind also lowers the heat-stress. The strong winds year-round do indeed cause extreme cold during winter relative to most of Israel. But let’s not forget, the cold is felt especially at night, when we are snug in our heated homes, enjoying a hot drink…