While the worst of this week’s heatwave is already over, the Dutch Weather Institute (KNMI) has issued another weather warning for Wednesday and Thursday for warm temperatures and heavy thunderstorms.
The Netherlands suffers in record-breaking heatwave
The past several days have seen countries across Europe suffer from extreme weather and record-breaking temperatures, with temperatures rising to 40 degrees in parts of Germany and the United Kingdom. While things didn’t get quite as hot here, this week has also seen the Netherlands experience record-breaking temperatures.
The KNMI issued a code orange weather warning for July 18 and July 19 for extreme heat, while the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) issued a smog warning as temperatures rose above 30 degrees across the country.
Tuesday has been confirmed as the hottest July 19 ever seen in the Netherlands, with the highest temperature recorded in Maastricht where it reached 39,5 degrees, breaking the previous record of 37,1 degrees set in July 2006. However, the heat record set in July 2019, when it reached 40,7 degrees, has remained unbroken.
The extreme weather wreaked havoc across the country; public transport was hugely affected, with major disruptions reported across train routes between a number of Dutch cities. Technical issues in Rotterdam meant that dozens of trains were unable to depart, leaving thousands of travellers stranded at the station on Tuesday evening. At Schiphol Airport, staff sprayed the runways with water in order to prevent damage to the asphalt. Hundreds of childcare centres were also forced to close as a result of the heat.
Temperatures to drop as thunderstorms hit the Netherlands
While temperatures aren’t expected to rise quite as high again this week, a code yellow weather warning remains in place for July 20 and July 21, with forecasts predicting lots of sunshine on Wednesday morning and highs of around 28 degrees in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Utrecht. The cloud cover will increase as the day progresses, with this evening set to bring heavy rain and thunderstorms to the east of the country.
Similarly, Thursday will bring rain to much of the Netherlands, with the heaviest storms expected in the South East where a yellow weather warning has been issued. While the storms could bring further disruption to some parts of the country, they’re also guaranteed to lower the temperatures. On Thursday and Friday, it isn’t expected to get any hotter than 25 degrees.
Don’t get too used to the slightly cooler conditions, however, as temperatures are set to rise again over the weekend, with lots of sunshine and highs of between 27 and 31 degrees forecast for Sunday, July 24. The sun is set to stick around next week, with meteorologists warning that temperatures will remain in the high 20s on Monday, before dropping to between 21 and 25 degrees by the end of the week.
Is this what we should expect from future Dutch summers?
This heatwave may not have broken the Netherlands’ heat record, but experts say these kinds of temperatures will become even more common in the future. “Decades ago, heatwaves were rare,” explains meteorologist Gerrit Hiemstra. “[But now] we are going to see these kinds of heatwaves and longer periods of heat more often.”
Hiemstra went on to tell NOS that climate change means the planet will not cool down, and that countries with typically milder climates – like the Netherlands – should prepare for more “periods of extreme heat, forest fires, salination, drought and failed harvests.”
While temperatures above 35 degrees remain rare in the Netherlands, they have become increasingly common over the past five years. Since records began in 1901, it has only reached 35 degrees in De Bilt (the home of the KNMI) 10 times – six of which have occurred since July 2018.