Code red: Temperatures up to 40°C in Belgium today

Code red: Temperatures up to 40°C in Belgium today
Credit: Belga/Lefour

Following an already very hot day yesterday, Belgium will feel the heat even more today as weather forecasts predict highs of up to 40°C, prompting 'code red' alerts in some provinces and potentially surpassing maximum temperature records.

Due to the extreme heat, the provinces of West Flanders and Hainaut have been placed in 'code red' for Tuesday by the Royal Meteorological Institute (RMI). The rest of the country is still in 'code orange.'

"With such very high temperatures, certain measures will be necessary," the RMI stressed. "Drink regularly, dress lightly, spend the day in cooler rooms, monitor health regularly, eat easily digestible food (and in smaller portions), keep doors and windows closed to keep out the heat."

Additionally, the RMI is urging people to take extra care of pets and other animals and to "be extremely careful" with fire in nature, due to the dangerous combination of drought, high temperatures and south-eastern winds.

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Hot air from the heatwave in France and Spain is pushing the temperature up in Belgium as well, especially on the French border. In the rest of the country, the thermometer is expected to stop short of 40°C, peaking at a maximum of 39ºC.

To deal with the heat, a number of precautionary measures are being taken across the country today: some shops will take extended lunch breaks and/or close early, the SCNB cancelled 34 peak-hour trains, some trams are not running and the collection of household waste is also being brought forward one hour. An overview of all measures being taken today can be found here.

In the meantime, it was announced that federal museums – described as "urban oases of coolness" – will be accessible free of charge to people from 65 years old and their companions during the exceptional temperatures today.

A new record?

Data by the RMI shows that since measurements began in Uccle in 1833, the summer months (July, August, September) are only getting hotter. Since 1980, the summer temperature has even risen by an average of 0.4ºC every ten years.

With 33.7°C recorded in Uccle on Monday, this 18 July will have been the hottest recorded since measurements began, tweeted MRI meteorologist David Dehenauw.

On Tuesday (today), Belgium should definitely exceed 33.8ºC, but whether 40°C will be reached at the RMI reference station is not yet sure. "Today, we will have to endure temperatures of 30 degrees and more in many places until midnight," Dehenauw added.

The last temperature record was set on 25 July 2019, when the thermometer reached 39.7ºC. That month was also particularly hot and broke the record of the most intense heatwave ever measured in Belgium.

While temperatures on Tuesday may come close to or even break the previous record, the same will not be true in the coming days: Tuesday's high temperatures will be replaced by cooler weather, showers and even some local thunderstorms on Wednesday.

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