European heatwave to engulf Belgium in next few weeks

European heatwave to engulf Belgium in next few weeks
Credit: Nicolas Maeterlinck / Belga

As Belgium expects another heatwave, the City of Brussels has announced that it is activating its heatwave plan for this week, offering help to those most at risk of health complications due to the heat.

As soon as temperatures hit 28°C, neighbourhood centres contact people who have been identified as particularly vulnerable to the heat and will check in on them and their health and offer advice.

The Mayor of the City of Brussels Philippe Close called on those close to older people, who may be vulnerable in the heat, to reach out and check in on them, reported Belga News Agency.

"Every citizen can show solidarity with our elderly: a phone call, a ring of the bell, a report to our services are valuable gestures to ensure the health of our elderly and to fight against isolation,” he said.

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The city recommends everyone to drink a lot of water (even if not thirsty), move less, avoid alcohol, keep the house cool by shutting the curtains until the evening and not overeat to avoid any health complications from the high temperatures.

The temperatures are predicted to surpass 30°C at the beginning of next week, with a possible high of 38°C on Tuesday 19 June, according to Meteo Bruxelles.

The Brussels Capital Region has public water fountains installed throughout the city, an important available asset for those planning a day out over the next couple of days of heat.

Europe's heatwave

Spain and Portugal began to feel the heat of this wave late last week with temperatures climbing up to 42°C. This excessive heat will first be felt in part of France and Germany before making its way to Belgium. The Guardian reported that temperatures in some parts of the two countries could exceed 40°C this week.

This heatwave is coming soon after one from a couple of weeks ago when parts of France observed temperatures of 42°C. Even Norway recorded the highest temperature on 29 June within the Arctic Circle in Europe with a temperature of 32.5°C hitting Banak.

Weak winds and splitting of jet streams

A new study published in Nature Communications revealed that Western Europe has become a hotspot for excessively high summer temperatures over the last four decades. The cause of the trend — atmospheric dynamical changes from an increase in the frequency and persistence of double jet stream states over Eurasia.

The jet stream, a stream of fast west-to-east winds in the upper atmosphere at middle latitudes, sometimes splits in two, and has increasingly done so while staying there for longer, the researchers explained.

Heatwaves originate in areas of weak winds and high-pressure air between the northern and southern flanks of the jet stream. Therefore, when this splitting of jet streams into two increases, so does the likelihood of heatwaves.

Meteo Bruxelles predicts that heatwaves in Belgium will continue into August, making it vital to be prepared for the heat and take the right precautions to safeguard the health of more vulnerable people.,

Those in need of assistance in the heat can contact the neighbourhood centres via the freephone number 0800 35 550, the e-mail address or by fax on 02/218.32.48.

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