Photo Credit: Miriam Alster/FLASH90
Cows are showered at a dairy barn in the Jordan Valley where temperatures reached 104 degrees

In a week when Israelis are staying home with their air-conditioners blasting (highest electric consumption ever was recorded on Wednesday), few recall June 21, 1942, when the highest temperature in history E V E R (at least since the records of temperatures have been kept) was recorded in Israel:

54 degrees Celsius (129.2 Fahrenheit) in Tirat Zvi.

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Tirat Zvi (Hebrew: Zvi’s Castle) is a religious kibbutz in the Beit She’an Valley, six miles south of the city of Beit She’an, just west of the Jordan River and the Israel-Jordan border. It falls under the jurisdiction of Valley of Springs Regional Council. In 2017 it had a population of 801 (possibly on account of the heat?).

On June 21 and 22, extreme temps ​​were also measured in nearby Kfar Ruppin – 53 degrees C (127.4 F); in Kalia, in the northern Dead Sea – 51.2 C (124.16 F); and in Jericho – 50.5 (122.9 F).

It should be noted that in addition to being an Israeli record, 54 degrees Celsius is also a record for the entire continent of Asia.

Take that, India…

Tirat Tzvi meteorological booth circa 1942 / Courtesy KKL-JNF

The temperature was measured in a standard meteorological hut, the Stevenson screen, which can be seen in a photograph taken by Dr. Jacob Rosner in November 1944, and archived by the Jewish National Fund (JNF).

Interior of a Stevenson screen (circa 2005) / CambridgeBayWeather via Wikimedia

The June 1942 record sheet from that trusty old Stevenson screen contains a chart of observations carried out in Tirat Zvi: the rightmost column shows the maximum temperatures each day, rounded up or down to a full degree (and not to the tenth of a degree as is customary today). Therefore, the value of 54 degrees Celsius could have been lower or higher by half a degree.

The record sheet for June 1942 / Courtesy KKL-JNF

The temperature measured on June 21, 1942, was the culmination of an extreme heat wave. The day before, 52 degrees Celsius (125.6 F) were measured and the day after 53 degrees Celsius (127.4 F).

On other days of the same month, temperatures were significantly lower.

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