For the second day in a row, Israelis woke up to a heavy sandstorm blowing across the country, blanketing the nation in yellow.
The dust storm, which over the past week has been making its way to Israel from Syria and Iraq, is being accompanied by rising temperatures. Temperatures are expected to reach new highs, with some areas, including Jerusalem, reaching 38 Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit).
Visibility across Israel is low, with some domestic airlines canceling flights for the second day. Israeli airlines Arkia and IsraAir postponed domestic flights to Eilat on Wednesday, offering passengers transportation via buses.
Israel’s Environmental Protection Ministry reissued a health advisory Wednesday morning, warning Israelis to stay indoors and avoid any physical outdoor activity.
The storm is expected to pass before the weekend, as millions of Israelis prepare for the High Holidays, which begins Sunday evening.
On Tuesday, hundreds of Israelis were treated for respiratory emergencies and other weather-related health incidents. According to Magen David Adom (MDA), Israel’s emergency medical service, 340 Israelis were treated for shortness of breath, respiratory problems, asthma and heart issues exacerbated by the weather.
“The MDA will continue to be on alert in light of the heatwave and dust storm,” MDA Director General Eli Bin stated.
Jonathan Feldstein, Director of Heart to Heart, an organization that supports Israel’s emergency services, told Breaking Israel News, “In the business of saving lives, Israel needs to be prepared anything from acts of terrorism to acts of God. This week Israel experienced a once a generation act of God that put many people at risk. Hundreds needed to be treated but it could have been much worse if our national ambulance and EMS services had not put out warnings to the public in advance.”
“Heart to Heart is so proud to support these services that answer the call when people’s lives are at risk but which also helps Israelis prepare when there is a risk to us all.”
In Jerusalem, Tuesday set a new record for air pollution levels at 173 times the normal levels. Other parts of the country recorded their worst pollution levels in 75 years.
Above the earth, NASA satellite imagery captured the massive sandstorm, showing Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and parts of Syria covered in the yellow dust. Satellite data showed the dust cloud rose 600 meters into the air.