Is this Belgium’s longest heatwave? 6 questions answered
Tuesday, 11 August 2020
As Belgium is currently experiencing its seventh consecutive day of heatwave and temperatures are expected to stay up for a few more days, here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about Belgium’s heatwaves past and present.
What is a heatwave exactly?
The Royal Meteorological Institute (RMI) speaks of a heatwave when the maximum temperatures in the Uccle measuring station reach at least 25 degrees for at least five days in a row. For at least three of those days, temperatures have to reach 30 degrees.
A heatwave continues until the day a maximum temperature of 25°C is no longer reached.
Is this Belgium’s longest heatwave so far?
No, in fact, this is still quite short compared to Belgium’s records. The top five of longest heatwaves in Belgium all lasted at least two weeks, according to weather reporter Frank Deboosere, who collected figures dating back to 1901.
19 days: 10 August to 28 August 1947
17 days: 22 June to 8 July 1976 and 5 August to 21 August 1997
16 days: 15 July to 30 July 2006
15 days: 20 July to 3 August 1911 and 13 July to 27 July 2018
14 days: 9 July to 22 July 1921 and 22 July to 4 August 1947
Is this heatwave breaking records in Belgium?
Yes. On Saturday 8 August, a temperature of 34.3 degrees was recorded in Uccle, which was later adjusted to 35.9 degrees, half a degree above the previous August record.
However, this was not Belgium’s hottest day ever. The absolute heat record was reached on 25 July 2019, when a temperature of 39.7 degrees was reached.
The world heat record dates back to July 10, 1913, when a temperature of 56.7°C was recorded in Furnace Creek, Death Valley, United States.