Heat lightning at the Dead Sea
Heat lightning at the Dead SeaBoaz Tzarfati

The massive dust storm that started in Israel last Tuesday largely dissipated on Sunday just in time for the start of the Jewish New Year of Rosh Hashanah, but as the holiday ended on Tuesday night the stuffy heat led to extremely rare heat lightning in Jerusalem and the Dead Sea.

Residents of the capital told Arutz Sheva that they saw constant ongoing heat lightning light up the skies in the southwestern Jerusalem neighborhood of Kiryat Menachem. 

The Jerusalem natives reported that they had never before seen such heat lightning, and many surprised viewers did not initially know how to identify it.

The lightning was also spotted in the Dead Sea, the lowest geographical spot on the earth.

ים המלח

Credit: Boaz Tzarfati

"The skies were lit up, it was an incredible sight - there was lightning every second," recalled Liron Simon, a resident of the northern Dead Sea region in the Megilot regional council area.

"We've never experienced a night like this, and I've never seen a thunder storm like this," she added. "In the night hours the heavens opened and the desert darkness was lit up by hundreds of hypnotizing lines - we've never seen a sight like that."

The rare heat lightning would seem to back meteorological predictions that Jerusalem is due to receive a thunderstorm later on Wednesday, with building pressure expected to bring rain that would likely clear whatever remaining dust is still in the air.

It has been estimated that the large amount of dust and sand brought into Israel from Syria and Iraq during the sandstorm may bring a boon to the local agriculture if it would fall on the ground in Israel.

The timing has not been lost on some, who point out that the potential benefit to the crops comes right at the Jewish new year at the end of the shemittah year, which is the agricultural sabbatical year in Jewish law. The Torah teaches that if Jews observe the shemittah year, as many farmers did this past year for the first time, Israel will be blessed with agricultural bounty.