© BSIP / Reporters

Present heat wave sets a new milestone since 1901

The present heat wave has set a new milestone. We are now having a heat wave for the fifth successive year, and this has never happened since 1901, weather presenter David Dehenauw of the commercial TV station VTM said. 

Climate change is fastening its grip on our weather, bringing more and more extremes. We had heavy rains and floods across Belgium a couple of weeks ago, and now there is a new hot spell. While heat waves used to be something exceptional, they are now taking place almost every year. 

Since 1901, we had 41 heat waves in Belgium, but 17 of these took place in the last 30 years. This means that on average, we used to have one every 4 years, but since 1990 we are being confronted with 1 every 2 years (at least).

The Met Office in Ukkel is talking of a heat wave when maximum temperatures do not dip below 25 degrees Celsius (77 Fahrenheit) for at least five continuous days, and we also need to have at least 3 tropical days (above 30 Celsius or 86 Fahrenheit). The present heat wave started last Sunday, but should finish tomorrow. 

The VRT's weather pundit Frank Deboosere also released a graphic which shows the number of tropical days taking place each year. An upward trend can clearly be seen. As for this year, the number can still increase.