The Weather in Israel
The weather in Israel is like a novel you’ve just opened for the first time. You might have some idea of what to expect and be prepared for, like a genre, length, or chapters of exposition. But it’s the exhilarating unpredictability that draws you in.
It is the compelling intensity of the deserts and snowy mountaintops; the satisfying journey along the seacoast, or simply the shock of finding a steady stream in the middle of a thick forest.
Though small, Israel has the fierce audacity of presenting us with an enviable diversity. It touches people, language, weather, and everything in between.
Stretching between three seas, a lake, fruitful deserts, and disappearing rivers, Israel should be so inconceivable to only exist in the mind of a skillful author.
What is the Israel Weather like around the Galilee?
The first thing you notice about the Galilee in the Spring is how green it is. Gentle hills, sharp turns, and red poppies are a complete contradiction to what you could have imagined about Israel. While there might be snow up on Mount Hermon, you can still go birdwatching in the Upper Galilee’s Hula Valley.
In the Lower Galilee region, also near Tiberias, there are herds of sheep and unbothered cows crossing the roads. As summer nears, the air smells moist and fecund. The humidity settles in pretty quickly, sticking to your skin uninvited. Suddenly you are very aware of why the deer would pant for streams of freshwater.
Practical tips: pack loose clothes, comfortable shoes (not just flip-flops or stylish sandals), sunglasses, and a hat. It is important to note that you should always have a summer wrap or a cardigan available. Mainly for it is very hot indeed, but also because the religious sites request modest attire that will cover shoulders and knees. The same applies to men and women.
The respite from the heat of the Galilee is the water, and you should be drinking plenty of it. On a clear sunny day, the water of the Sea of Galilee – which is actually a lake – will revive your very bones from the lethargic haze.
One would imagine it is always this calm when looking into the deep blue of the horizon. But the storms are violent here, and we have enough Scripture to believe it. The rain can be torrential and unrelenting, but it is always celebrated.
What kind of Weather Should We Expect on the Israeli Coast?
The Mediterranean Sea is famous worldwide for its warm waters and splendid beaches. Israel is no different.
Tel Aviv Weather, Netanya Weather, Herzliya Weather
Along the coast, there are busy cities like Netanya, Tel-Aviv, or Herzliya (to name a few), with all the life, hustle, and affluence of the modern age. But occasionally, you find little treasure troves pocketed between sandstone ridges: like Dor Habonim, Mikhmoret, or Palmachim.
The narrative here is peaceful and golden, and the sunsets die out slowly. I remember my beach vacations joyously; walking on rock formations with care or enjoying the reprieve from the busy work season.
I remember getting sunburned less joyously, so be sure to add sunscreen to your armor. The winters on the coast are mild, but temperatures can still drop significantly. That is why we come down to the desert to thaw from the frost of winter.
How to Dress for the Desert in Israel
The largest desert of Israel is the Negev, but there is also the Judean desert just outside of Jerusalem. And don’t forget the explosion of color of the Eilat mountain range.
The Negev desert is a walking precipice of rocky peaks, ravines, and deep craters. It is barren at times, and then suddenly packed with palm trees and fully functioning produce farms in the middle of nothing.
Little paradises, like Ein Bokek or Neve Zohar, take full advantage of the warm weather and the Dead Sea with its spectacular salt formations and the unique feeling of weightlessness. But then, you can also go wash the salt off your skin in Nahal Arugot, with natural pools of freshwater that alter the very fabric of the desert’s DNA.
Practical tips: For the hikers who want to see Masada or any other viewpoints in the desert, there are a few must-haves. Most importantly, be sure to always have a lot of water. Then, bring sneakers (or even hiking boots), breathable clothing, and possibly a warmer layer too, for after sundown. The weather in the desert of Israel is very hot during the day, but the temperatures can plunge unexpectedly after sunset.
But the best advice I can ever give you is for when you want to dip your toe in the Dead Sea. Do not, ever, under any circumstance, wait until that same day or at the last minute, to shave.
Desert Weather in Israel
As in any novel, remember that our book also has unexpected twists and cliff-hangers. And though the desert has a revelatory stillness about it, it can jolt you awake with flash floods and sandstorms. Local wisdom and information are key. If it has been raining in the regions above the desert (Jerusalem included), it is best to wait a few days before any adventuring.
Sandstorms have a duality to them that I never expected. They are cinematic, heavy, exhausting at times. But there is also a sense of excitement in the midst of nearly painful beauty. Like if the answer to something sacred would be found if we could only chisel away at the fog it creates.
Suffocatingly hot in the summer and comically cold in the winter, it is an unforgettable experience for Israeli weather. Eye protection, hats, and scarves around your nose and mouth will definitely help.
What to pack for the Southern Part of Israel?
Eilat is the perpetual beach retreat – which is not to say it doesn’t get a share of bad weather for Israel once in a while. But for the most part, it is consistently pleasant in the colder months, from November to February, and then the temperatures steadily climb to incredibly hot from March on.
It is a much drier climate than that of the Galilee, but the two do have something in common. And that’s the calling of the water. The waters of the Red Sea are crystal clear, surprisingly refreshing. And the sea has a cheeky seabed full of rocks (rubber shoes are your friends).
Life is happy and light-hearted on the Red Sea coast, just as the dolphins that swim around here. So be sure to rent some snorkel gear to enjoy this special weather in Israel! And for the hiking enthusiasts, you will wish that time could slow down so you could soak in the beautiful moments at the Red Canyon or in Timna.
Jerusalem weather: what is it like?
I find the weather in Jerusalem very reasonable. The summers are warm, but not excessively, and definitely not unbearably. Similar rules of attire apply here as in the Galilee, especially covering shoulders and knees at the holy sites. There is diversity in Israel’s weather!
But really, absolutely nothing can prepare you for the pranks of winter. It is absurd, raw, and nearly apocalyptical. Am I slightly exaggerating? Maybe. But you will always have a story to tell or an article to write. In fact, I think you could fill a whole book of just our collective experiences and tales of survival.
Winter Rainfall in Jerusalem
In a regular year, over 70% of the annual rainfall for Israel’s weather happens between November and February. It can rain as if the very pipes of the sky above us froze overnight, and then burst open one morning over the entire Jerusalem, drowning it in savage downpours.
December and January are certainly the colder months when, if that’s what you are into, you can even witness the grace of a snowy Jerusalem. That is, until the snow melts – which does not take long usually. But for that suspended moment in time, it is a privileged delight.
What is thundersnow?
A rare privilege to witness in Israel’s weather is an event called thundersnow. It is so rare that meteorologists get positively giddy over it.
Practical tips: If you choose to visit Jerusalem in winter, you should be prepared for the cold. Houses are not properly insulated, and the weathered stones can make you slip very easily. I highly recommend bringing a warm and water-resistant winter coat, boots with ridged soles for traction, and… layers. Because when the sun does come out, you’ll be tempted to take some of them off. And the weather can warm up considerably.
Weather in Israel: Final Thoughts
Whenever you plan your visit, I hope you get to fully experience the whole country. I hope you embrace the warm, the mild, and the cold weather in Israel. I hope your feet get dusty and your face sweaty. That you get to swim in the Mediterranean, throw a skipping stone in the Galilee, and play in the mud of the Dead Sea.
I hope you feel the sandy wind tickling your skin and experience the miracle of waterfalls in the desert. That you engage in snowball fights with strangers by a Jerusalem city gate or feel the comfort of the first rains. May you witness a sunset in Tel-Aviv or enjoy the warmth of Eilat while sipping on a watermelon granita.
The Lord wrote the book of Israel with His heart, and it is a best-seller.
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