A Quick and Easy Guide to Living in Celsius

When I first arrived in Israel, I had a very hard time gleaning anything meaningful from the weather report. Was I supposed to wear a coat in 20 degree weather?? What did it mean that the weekend would get up to 35?

I'm not alone. I once saw approximately this dialogue on Martha Stewart's TV show:

GUEST: It was very hot in Abu Dhabi. The temperature was about 37 degrees Celsius.
MARTHA: What is that in Fahrenheit?
GUEST: I think about 70 degrees.
MARTHA: Oh, that's not that hot.

(37 degrees Celsius is actually 98 degrees Fahrenheit.)

Yes, there are formulas to convert Celsius to Fahrenheit, but these usually involve complicated formulas and knowledge of the number of times a grasshopper's wings beat per second. What I really need to know is this: should I wear a coat?

So here's my handy-dandy guide to living in Celsius.

If the temperature is in the 40s: It's HOT. Going outside is actually dangerous. The ocean will feel like a hot bath. Even in the shade, sweat will stream down your body. Close all of the trisim, turn on the air conditioning and drink lots of water. Any food you consume should be cold. (Farhrenheit equivalent: 100 and above. It actually got to this temperature in Haifa just a few weeks ago.)

If the temperature in the 30s: It's hot, but not HOT. You can probably go outside with proper precautions. Wear shorts and sleeveless shirts or light cotton clothing. It's too hot to wear full-length jeans or socks. You can probably handle a warm falofel so long as it's accompanied by a cold drink... although be warned, ice does not come standard in Israeli soft drinks. This weather is typical of the entire summer in Israel, except when it gets HOT, and is perfect for a game of matkot on the beach and a dip in the Mediterranean. (Rough Fahrenheit equivalent: the 90s.) Note: the upper 30s are HOT. If temp is 37 or above, follow guidelines for the 40s.

If the temperature is in the 20s: This is known as "mezeg avir naim"-- pleasant weather. It is warm but not sweltering. This weather (typical for October-November in Israel) is perfect for strolling around outside in jeans, a short-sleeved shirt, and sandals. You don't need a jacket but you probably don't need air conditioning. Kick out the grill and mangal some meat! Keep a light blanket near your bed, but you might not need it. (Rough Fahrenheit equivalent: the 70s.)

If the temperature is in 10s: This weather is cool, but not cold. You will probably want a blanket at night and a light jacket if you go outside. You might even want to wear socks, and you will probably appreciate hot soup for dinner. (Rough Fahrenheit equivalent: the 50s.) This temperature is typical of the Israeli winter.

If the temperature is in the 0s: This is what Israelis consider cold (and Americans where I come from consider normal fall weather). Wear a fairly warm jacket and warm shoes. Israelis turn on their heaters and bundle up in hats and scarves in weather like this. Because your house will still not be very good at heating up and staying warm, sleep with a thick feather blanket at night. (Rough Fahrenheit equivalent: the 30s.)

If the temperature is below 0: Israelis consider temperatures below zero almost too cold to bear. They will avoid going outside and will sit around huddled under blankets at home. They may or may not own mittens and so will be cold and grumpy when they emerge into the freezing air. If you own a warm winter coat, wear it. At least, this is what I guess happens-- it never got below zero last year in the Krayot. (Rough Fahrenheit equivalent: 32 degrees and below.)


  1. That's an excellent sum-up! I've been here for almost half my life, but my brain still thinks in Fahrenheit - thanks!

  2. Great post! I found a free calculator download that has been incredibly helpful for converting everything from temps to metric measurements at http://www.joshmadison.com/software

    FYI, http://weatherbug.com also lets you select fahrenheit instead of celcius when viewing Israeli locations.

  3. Tehilla, those are great resources! However, I'm trying to teach myself to think in Celsius the way I originally learned to think in Fahrenheit... in other words, just by knowing what temperatures feel like. When I wrote this post I was surprised to learn just how hot some normal Celsius temperatures are in Fahrenheit, though, so I could probably use a converter!

  4. I really laughed through this post...brilliant! You can also try this little number comparison to get a general idea: 16C is 61F; 28C is 82F. A little trick I learned from Rick Steves (Europe Through the Back Door Tours)....

    I stumbled upon your blog just today somehow or other....I'm adding you to my blogroll so I can enjoy more of your wonderful humor and feel like I've visited Israel once again...

  5. Sara, that's so clever! I'll remember that one! I hope you stick around :)

  6. Reading your blog is usually like seeing my innermost thoughts written on a web site! I have been a secret fan since I made aliyah to the north with my Israeli husband last winter. By the way - I love Israel's meteorological site - ims.gov.il
    I play a game with myself in which I try to figure out what it says in hebrew and celcius, and then click on english and fahrenheit! :o)

  7. WHAT?!
    In tal-aviv and the area the 10s means FREAKING FREEZING and the low 20s are pretty cold. the 0s are the end of days, and anything below 0 is stuff for fairy tales.
    We israelis have a very low sensitivity for the cold ;)

  8. I have been racking my brain trying to find a friend who could advice me.My name is Howard Friesner,I'm a single father of a 9 year old boy,and we both want to come to Israel to become citizens.We need to learn Hebrew and our only problem is most Kibbutz wont take us because I'm 41.Can you help me and show me who,what,where,why,how.My e-mail is howiehorseman@yahoo.com


Related Posts with Thumbnails