Wednesday marks the start of an intensive heat wave - and we'd better get used to them

Today marks the start of an intensive heat wave - which is expected to last until next Tuesday at least. Statistics from the Met Office show that heat waves are becoming more frequent in recent years and decades. 

Temperatures will climb rapidly today to reach almost 30 Celsius (86 Fahrenheit). We may not have a tropical day yet today, but this will certainly be the case as from tomorrow, with a whole series of days with sweltering heat coming up. By next Sunday, the new heat wave should be official. The heat wave could last at least a week, with temperatures of 35 Celsius expected until next Tuesday. As from Sunday, thunderstorms are possible. Temperatures are expected to be a bit lower at the coast. 

The heat wave alarm phase has been activated, with special measures being taken e.g. in care homes. The golden rule for everybody is to drink enough water and stay indoors when the heat is on, to avoid sports or heavy physical activities roughly between noon and 8 p.m. and to keep an eye on the most vulnerable people around you - older people and children. The heat may also trigger high ozone levels. 

Water suppliers have asked members of the public not to waste any water e.g. for washing your car or watering the garden. Meanwhile, virologists have warned against the use of fans, since these may spread coronavirus faster. "Only use a fan indoors together with your own family." 

An exception in the time of our (grand)parents, more common now

Heat waves are becoming more common in Belgium, long-term statistics by the Met Office KMI show. While we had an average of 1 every 4 years between 1900 and 1990, we had an average of 2 every 3 years between 1991 and now.

And the frequencey is increasing rapidly in recent years: we had at least one over the past 5 years - and we even had 3 last year and 2 in 2018. "One every year, this is the new standard", Rozemien De Troch of the Met Office told the VRT. So we'd better get used to them. 

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