Due to its location between the eastern Mediterranean Sea and the desert regions of West Asia, Israel has diverse climate types. The northern and western regions have a Mediterranean climate (Köppen climate classification Csa, Csb), with warm to hot summers and cold winters. The central region, beginning from the northern Negev Desert, is semi-arid (Köppen BSh, BSk). The southern region has a desert climate (Köppen BWh, BWk), with a humid continental climate (Köppen Dsb) in a small section in the southwest. Israel lies in West Asia, at the far eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea. Jordan and the West Bank lie in the east, the Red Sea in the south, Egypt in the southwest, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Gaza Strip in the west, Lebanon in the north, and Syria in the northeast. The Mediterranean Sea, the Saharan, and Arabian deserts mainly influence the climate.
The Tropic of Cancer passes through the southern tip of Israel, which lies between 29°N and 33°N of the equator. The topography is diverse, ranging from snow-capped mountains in the north to semi-arid regions in the center, and deserts in the south. Jerusalem lies on top of a mountain range that runs north-south, parallel to the coast. The fertile Coastal Plain region in the west extends to Gaza in the south from Lebanon in the north. The Central Hills region, east of the coastal plains, consists of several hills and fertile valleys. The Jordan Rift Valley lies further east, along with the Jordan River, the Sea of Galilee, and the Dead Sea. The Negev desert in southern Israel constitutes half of Israel's land area. The Jordan River is the longest river with a length of 199 miles. The largest freshwater lake is the Sea of Galilee. Mount Meron is the highest point in Israel at 1208 meters. The Dead Sea is the lowest point on Earth at 417 meters below sea level.
Israel has long, hot, and dry summers. A hot and dry wind blows in the summer from the southern desert region. The average temperatures are in the range of 22.2°C (72°F) to 37.8°C (100°F) in the summer. Temperatures occasionally run in the extremely high range of 44.4°C (111.9°F) to 46.1°C (115°F) in the Negev Desert in the south. Winters are mild in the central and southern regions and cold along the Mediterranean coast. The cold season is wet in the north and west but brings little rainfall in the south. The average temperatures are between 6.1°C (43°F) to 22.8°C (73°F) in the winter, but the daily sunshine lasts from 6 hours to 8 hours. Night temperatures occasionally drop below freezing in the desert. Mountainous regions are cold and windy, with at least one snowfall event each year at altitudes above 750 meters. The altitude, latitude, and proximity to the ocean affect the weather. Spring and autumn are short, mild, and mostly dry.
Israel receives scanty annual rainfall between 30.5mm (1.2") in the extreme south and 889mm (35") in the north. Arable areas along the coast receive up to 304.8mm (12") of rain annually. More than 70% of the annual rainfall occurs mainly between November and March. The northern regions are the wettest and the southern, the driest. Much of the country receives ample sunshine between 3200 hours to 3600 hours annually. The average relative humidity is below 50%, with the highest along the western coasts and lowest in the south. The seawater temperatures in Tel Aviv, the capital on the Mediterranean Coast, range between a mild 17.2°C (63°F) to warm 27.2°C (81°F). On the Red Sea coast, the seawaters in Eilat are in the warm range of 21.1°C (70°F) to 27.8°C (82°F) and suitable for swimming, even in the winter.
Tirat Zvi in the Jordan Valley holds the record for the highest temperature of 54°C (129.2°F) in Israel and Asia, set on June 21, 1942. Merom Golan holds the record for the lowest temperature of -14.2°C (6.4°F), set on January 10, 2015.
The best time to visit Israel
The best time to visit Israel is during the mild spring and autumn seasons. Easter in April is an excellent time to visit historical sites as well as a beach holiday on the Red Sea coast. The Mediterranean Coast is warm from May to October, and the seawaters are suitable for swimming with average temperatures in the 25°C (77°F) to 27.8°C (82°F) range. October and November have comfortable conditions along the Red Sea coast as well as the interior. The Red Sea is warmer than the Mediterranean Sea and suitable for sunbathing in spring and autumn.
The worst time to visit Israel
The worst time to visit Israel is in the hot summer from June to September. The interior regions are arid and devoid of rainfall. The average high temperatures in the interior areas near Jordan Valley in the east and the southern Negev Desert touch 40°C (104°F) in the summer. July and August are brutal, with the sun's ultraviolet index at the peak of 12. The Red Sea coast is avoidable in the summer, with high temperatures and dry heat. However, the Mediterranean Coast has acceptable temperatures between 22.8°C (73°F) and 30°C (86°F) at the height of the summer.
Israel sporadically faces natural weather hazards, such as droughts, earthquakes, forest fires, windstorms, and sandstorms. Scanty rainfall in the eastern and southern interior regions is the reason for frequent droughts. Temperatures often cross 48.9°C (120°F) during heat waves in the semi-arid and desert regions in the summer. Sandstorms stall all activities, as the hot air masses blow hot sand and dust particles over large distances. Earthquakes are relatively regular but of minor intensity and cause little damage. The Mount Carmel forest fire in 2010, the last major catastrophe, claimed 19 lives and destroyed 9900 acres of forest in a five-day blaze.
Weather in January
January, the coldest month of the year in Israel, is also its wettest month. Tel Aviv and Jerusalem register 127mm (5") to 152.4mm (6") of rainfall, and Tiberias receives 104.1mm (4.1"), but Eilat in the south hardly gets 5.1mm (0.2"). The winter is mild in the interior, where the climate is continental. Cold air masses from Russia bring snowfall above an altitude of 600 meters. Jerusalem registers average temperatures in the range of 6.1°C (43°F) to 12.2°C (54°F), with clear skies up to 76% of the time. The daily sunshine lasts between 6 hours and 7 hours in most of the country during the 10.5-hour days. The average seawater temperatures at 17.8°C (64°F) are cold for swimming in Tel Aviv but relatively comfortable at 22.2°C (72°F) in Eilat. The southern desert is the warmest region in Israel, with average temperatures in the zone of 10°C (50°F) to 21.1°C (70°F). Warm clothes are suitable for hilly regions, while a sweater and rain jacket is better in other areas. January has comfortable weather in much of Israel.
Weather in February
February is a mild winter month in Israel, with average temperatures in the zone of 6.1°C (43°F) to 22.8°C (73°F). Tel Aviv temperatures are between 10°C (50°F) and 17.8°C (64°F), with days rarely above 21.1°C (70°F) and nights rarely below 1.7°C (35.1°F). Eilat is mostly dry and registers in the wide range of 12.2°C (54°F) and 22.8°C (73°F). Much of Israel except for the southern parts of the Negev Desert receives 101.6mm (4") to 127mm (5") of rain, with at least 10 wet days in the month. The daily sunshine improves to 7 hours and the daylight to 11.5 hours by the end of the month. The daily average wind speeds are in the moderate range of 11.3km/h (7mph) to 12.9km/h (8mph), with a predominantly westerly direction. The Mediterranean Sea waters are at the coldest of the year at 17.2°C (63°F). The relative humidity is low below 55%, and the skies are clear up to 77% of the time. The Red Sea coast sees a rise in tourist footfalls in February.
Weather in March
March is sunny in Israel, with average temperatures in the warm range of 7.8°C (46°F) to 26.1°C (79°F). The bright sunlight lasts for 7 hours to 8 hours every day, as the daylight improves from 11.5 hours to 12 hours by the vernal equinox. Haifa, on the Mediterranean Coast, is pleasant in the 12.8°C (55°F) to 21.1°C (70°F), with seawater temperatures between 17.2°C (63°F) and 18.3°C (64.9°F). Tiberias, in the east, is mild to warm between 12.2°C (54°F) and 22.8°C (73°F). Precipitation is in the range of 88.9mm (3.5") to 101.6mm (4") in the north, west, and central highlands. The spring season is apparent only in the northern half, as the rest of Israel is typically hot. Tel Aviv registers average wind speeds in the 12.9km/h (8mph) to 13.7km/h (8.5mph) in March, and the wind blows mainly from the west. The deserts generally have hot days but cold nights. Sweaters and jackets are necessary in the highlands and mountains. March occasionally springs a surprise snowfall in the high mountains in Israel.
Weather in April
April is sunny in Israel, with at least 9 hours of daily sunshine and clear skies for 85% of the time. The precipitation registers below 25.4mm (1"), even in the wettest regions of the north and west. The average highs range between 27.8°C (82°F) to 31.1°C (88°F) in the Jordan Valley and the southern deserts. The average lows are in the comfortable zone of 12.8°C (55°F) to 15.6°C (60.1°F) in the western coastal plains. Jerusalem registers in the comfortable zone of 12.8°C (55°F) to 22.2°C (72°F) during the Easter holidays. Temperatures near the Sea of Galilee are in the warm to hot zone of 15°C (59°F) to 27.8°C (82°F). The daily average wind speeds measure below 14.5km/h (9mph) in much of Israel. The average seawater temperatures along the Mediterranean coast register at 17.8°C (64°F), while the Red Sea is warm at 22.8°C (73°F). Lightweight spring clothing is usually best for hot days. A scarf is useful in the semi-arid and desert regions. April is a good time to visit the Mediterranean Coast of Israel.
Weather in May
May is dry and sunny in Israel, with 11 hours of bright sunshine and 14 hours daylight. The temperatures register in the hot range of 18.9°C (66°F) to 32.8°C (91°F) in the east and 22.2°C (72°F) to 36.1°C (97°F) in the south. Beersheba to the north of the southern desert region registers average temperatures in the 18.3°C (64.9°F) to 26.7°C (80.1°F) range. The west coast is between 17.2°C (63°F) and 25°C (77°F), with clear skies for 90% of the time. The Mediterranean Sea's average temperatures are mild at 21.1°C (70°F), and the coast receives light breezes. The precipitation is generally absent in Israel by mid-May, and most regions are hot and dry. The relative humidity is between 50 and 55%, with the highest values along the coast. May is the calmest month of the year on the west coast, with daily average wind speeds between 10.5km/h (6.5mph) and 12.1km/h (7.5mph). Expect the temperatures to rise significantly by the end of the spring season in May in Israel.
Weather in June
June is the beginning of the hot summer season in Israel and the clearest skies of the year. The bright days receive 100% daily sunshine of 12 hours. The summer solstice produces the longest days in the country. June 20 is the longest day of the year in Tel Aviv, with 14 hours and 15 minutes of daylight. Hadera, on the west coast, registers average temperatures in the 19.4°C (66.9°F) to 28.9°C (84°F) range, with relative humidity between 60% and 70%. In Eilat, along the Red Sea coast, June is the windiest month of the year, with daily average speeds at 15.8km/h (9.8mph). Winds blow predominantly from the west and north. The sun's ultraviolet index is at a dangerous level of 12 in much of Israel. The Mediterranean Sea coast sees crowds, with sunny days that warm the seawaters to 23.9°C (75°F). The sea breezes temper the conditions. June has acceptable weather on the west coast of Israel but is generally avoidable in the rest of the country.
Weather in July
July is the hottest and sunniest month in Israel, with scorching sunshine and peak temperatures. The northern Jordan River Valley and southern Negev Desert have the hottest temperatures in the country that breach the 48.9°C (120°F) mark. The average high temperatures are in the hot 37.8°C (100°F) to 40°C (104°F) in the east and south. Temperatures on the west coast are usually between 28.9°C (84°F) to 32.2°C (90°F) during the day and 18.9°C (66°F) to 23.9°C (75°F) in the night. Jerusalem registers average temperatures in the 20°C (68°F) to 28.9°C (84°F) zone, with 12 hours of sunlight. The average seawater temperatures near the west coast are at 26.1°C (79°F), while the southern coast is at 27.8°C (82°F). Heatwaves are standard in the desert and semi-arid regions. The relative humidity is between 60% and 70% in many regions. The earliest sunrise in Tel Aviv is at 5.38 a.m., and the latest sunset occurs at 7.51 p.m., on July 1. July has bearable weather only on the Mediterranean coast of Israel.
Weather in August
August is a hot and dry month in the summer in Israel, with clear skies and extreme temperatures. The interior is hot, with temperatures routinely above 37.8°C (100°F) during the day. Jerusalem, at the height of 700 meters, fares better than the eastern and southern regions, with average temperatures in the range of 18.9°C (66°F) to 27.8°C (82°F). Temperatures in Eilat along with the Red Sea coast average between 27.2°C (81°F) and 40°C (104°F), with 11 hours of relentless sunshine. The daylight recedes from 13 hours and 42 minutes on August 1 in Tel Aviv to 12 hours and 50 minutes on August 31. The average sweater temperatures peak at 27.8°C (82°F) on both the western and southern coasts. Broad-brimmed hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen are necessary during outdoor visits. Prolonged exposure to the afternoon sun can cause heat strokes. August is the muggiest month of the year, but the average monthly humidity remains less than 70%. Although the conditions are hot, August draws many tourists to the Mediterranean Coast in Israel.
Weather in September
September witnesses an extension of the hot summer in Israel, with high temperatures. The average temperatures recede from the peak summer readings but are still high. In the south, Eilat registers average temperatures between 25°C (77°F) and 37.2°C (99°F). In the east, Tiberias has average temperatures in the hot range of 22.8°C (73°F) to 36.1°C (97°F). Jerusalem and Tel Aviv are milder than the south in the 18.9°C (66°F) to 28.9°C (84°F) range. Much of Israel receives bright sunshine of 10 hours every day. The skies remain clear for 100% of the time, and the daylight decreases to 12 hours by the autumnal equinox. Precipitation is absent in most regions in September. The relative humidity ranges from 60% to 70%. However, the chance of a muggy day decreases rapidly from 86% to 49%. The average wind speeds are constant at 12.9km/h (8mph) in Tel Aviv, with a predominantly westerly direction. The clear September skies are perfect for stargazing in Israel.
Weather in October
October is warm to hot at the end of the summer in Israel. The average temperatures on the west coast and the central highlands are between 17.2°C (63°F) and 27.2°C (81°F). The Jordan River Valley and the Negev Desert register temperatures in the zone of 21.1°C (70°F) to 32.2°C (90°F). The daily sunshine is strong but lasts below 9 hours in most regions. The skies see specks of clouds, as the daylight recedes below 11 hours. October signals the arrival of wet days, which bring up to 35.6mm (1.4") of rainfall on the west coast. The rest of the country receives light rainfall. The seawater temperatures along the Red Sea coast are slightly warmer at 27.2°C (81°F) compared to 26.1°C (79°F) on the Mediterranean Coast. The autumn is evident mostly in the areas under the Mediterranean influence in the west. Expect fair weather on both the western and southern coasts, with a drop in humidity. October is a nice time to visit Israel in the autumn.
Weather in November
November has moderate conditions in Israel, with warm days and cold nights. The average temperatures register in the wide range of 12.2°C (54°F) to 27.8°C (82°F), as the heat tapers gradually. Jerusalem and Tel Aviv see many tourists, as the average temperatures register in the moderate zone of 12.2°C (54°F) to 23.9°C (75°F). The daily sunshine drops to 8 hours in the month, and the daylight lasts for at least 10 hours. The skies are overcast for at least 23% of the time, and the relative humidity is in the comfortable zone of 55% to 65%. The average wind speeds are between 11.3km/h (7mph) and 12.9km/h (8mph), and the wind direction is mainly from the north. The precipitation is to the tune of 50.8mm (2") to 76.2mm (3") in most regions except the south. Nights are cold in the highlands and deserts, and evenings ask for a sweater or a jacket. November has acceptable weather for a visit to Israel.
Weather in December
December is the beginning of the mild to cold winter in Israel, with cloudy skies and significant rainfall. Tel Aviv temperatures are in the average range of 12.2°C (54°F) to 20°C (68°F), with 6 hours of daily sunshine. The average temperatures in Jerusalem are between 7.8°C (46°F) to 13.9°C (57°F), but nights remain above freezing. Frost and snow occur at high altitudes above 750 meters. The southern desert registers cold nights, with average temperatures between 12.2°C (54°F) and 22.8°C (73°F). The daily sunshine lasts for 6 hours to 7 hours. December 21 is the shortest day of the year, with 10 hours and 3 minutes of daylight in Tel Aviv. December brings 101.6mm (4") to 127mm (5") of rain within 10 wet days in the northern half of Israel. In the south, the precipitation rarely registers above 25.4mm (1"). The Red Sea waters are mild above 22.8°C (73°F), but the Mediterranean Sea waters are at a cold 20°C (68°F). December is the calmest month on the southern shores, with daily average wind speeds at 11.7km/h (7.3mph). Warm clothes are necessary for Israel in December.