New heat record as Belgians rush to coast to cool down

New heat record as Belgians rush to coast to cool down
The translation at Blankenberge, which is expecting a lot of visitors this weekend. Credit: Belga

This Saturday set a new daily heat record for 18 June since measurements began in 1892. It was 31.8°C in Uccle at 15:00, according to meteorologists David Dehenauw and Frank Deboosere.

The previous record for the hottest 18 June was set in 2002 when the mercury reached 31.5°C, Deboosere said on Twitter. The temperature in Uccle could rise again in the next few hours, meaning the new record may be even higher.

As a result of the scorching temperatures, people have flocked to the Belgian coast on Saturday as expected. Railway operator SNCB already announced earlier this week it would be putting on 12 additional trains to the coast this weekend in anticipation of a surge of beach-goers during a forecasted hot weekend.

Coastal municipalities in Belgium were also prepared to receive a lot of visitors at the seaside this weekend, having activated mobility plans and expanded police presence.

"Here it will also be the coolest place in the country," said Bart Tommelein, Mayor of Ostend, told Belga News Agency. The largest coastal city in Belgium has already taken the necessary measures, he explained. "We are particularly pleased that we can welcome people again without any Covid-19 measures."

Police presence

The mobility plan will be activated while the police are "ready for a mass of people." The roads to the Belgian coast are very busy, with the first traffic jams starting to form after 9:00. By midday, there were still bottlenecks to be expected, mainly on the E40.

Oostende has had beach police for three years now, and as every year, there will also be officers present on the beach.

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In Blankenberge, a busy day at the beach has become almost synonymous with police presence, following the beach riots of two years ago. Here too, extra police officers will be deployed.

"We foresee four extra personnel and a police dog on the beach and the dike on Friday and Saturday. An extra night shift will also be deployed at night," said the chief of police in the city, Hans Quaghebeur.

Because it is not yet the summer holidays, the local police have not yet been reinforced. "We are not afraid of things going wrong, but we want to be present on the beach so that we can intervene quickly if necessary. We want to avoid conflicts. The danger usually lies in situations where there is too much drinking. So we remain vigilant."

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