Belgium has started what is forecast to be the coldest week of the year on Monday, with temperatures climbing no higher than 4°C during the day and dropping to -10°C at night in some areas.
Whilst the 'code yellow' for slippery roads issued on Sunday by the Royal Meteorological Institute (RMI) has been lifted for now, it will likely be reapplied as temperatures drop firmly below zero.
"A dry, but cold country air from the east to southeast caused quite a bit of freezing cold this morning," said VRT weather reporter Frank Deboosere. "Temperatures dropped to -3 degrees in West Flanders, -4 to -5 in the centre of the country, -5 to -7 in the northeast and -9 in High Belgium."
In response, the Agency for Roads and Traffic have carried out preventive gritting across the country, on regional roads as well as on motorways. "No precipitation is expected today so the chance of slipperiness is limited. We do remain alert and drive out again if necessary."
For the rest of the week, temperatures will remain around the freezing point, with maxima around 2°C – meaning that the ice on the ponds is definitely not thick enough for ice skating.
"Air quality today and for the rest of the week is poor," said Deboosere, adding that low clouds and locally freezing fog are likely in the first hours of the morning, especially in the Ardennes and across the west of the country.
Monday night will be very cold with little or no clouds, with what Deboosere called "freezer temperatures" of -5 to -10°C. After midnight, some high cloud veils coming from France will reach Belgium, making the coldest night of the year.
Tuesday is expected to remain dry with quite a lot of medium and high clouds. The maxima temperatures are between 4°C and 1°C in high Belgium and between 1°C and 2°C elsewhere. In the late afternoon, some snow could fall locally in the south of the country.
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Snow could also fall in the southeast on Wednesday, as well as at the coast. The rest of the country is expected to remain dry and sunny, with maxima between -2°C and 3°C.
Thursday will be cold with some sun at times; North Sea showers could hit the coastal region and the northwest of the country, possibly bringing snowfall. It will remain cold, with minimum temperatures of -1°C to 4°C.
According to the first forecasts, Friday and Saturday will see mist in many places, followed by freezing fog and low clouds.
"Technically, this is an ordinary cold snap," said Deboosere. "Very normal for the time of year, in fact, but we are no longer used to it."