Unprecedented September Heat Wave Hits Belgium: David Dehenauw Explains

2023-09-12 09:45:00

David Dehenauw visited our editorial office in Namur on Friday. And that was rather good timing with this meteorological phenomenon that we had never experienced in Belgium… Belga By Pierre Nizet Journalist in the General Editorial team Published on 09/09/2023 at 04:00

David Dehenauw, have we just experienced something special this September 8?

Yes, this is a September heat wave. This is unheard of in Belgium. Since Monday, we have exceeded 25 degrees in Uccle. Tuesday, we had 30.9°, Wednesday 30.1°, Thursday 30.2° and there, shortly before noon, we exceeded 25 degrees. Which means we have our heat wave.

Why is it so hot?

There are several explanations. First, there is a powerful anticyclone with lots of sunshine. There are no clouds, so this allows the Earth to warm up. Day after day. So it increases the temperature. Then we have an “Omega” blockage. This means that the anticyclone remains in place for several days or even up to a week. On the other hand, alongside it, there are depressions. One of these depressions, we saw its effects on Greece where the very high temperature of the Mediterranean plays a role. After all these heatwaves in July, with record temperatures almost everywhere in the Mediterranean, today they have the other side of the coin with torrential rains. And then, there is a small easterly flow in Eastern Europe where it has been warmer recently than here. And so, there is also a little heat coming from this side.

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You live in Blankenberge. This weekend there will be a lot of people. Do you advise them to wear sunscreen even though it’s… September?

Of course ! You should always put it on until October. Every day, I apply it.

The phenomenon we are currently experiencing, we also experienced in June with a heatwave, is it due to global warming? Or does he have a good back?

First, there is a heat wave in September. There is certainly an element of global warming at play. It’s sure and certain. There is no escaping it in Belgium. We have seen the effects in the Mediterranean. This summer with the torrential rains in Greece. We still observed quantities of 750 mm in 24 or 36 hours. I remind you that in Belgium, in one year, we have 860 mm of water. This is almost 80 to 90% of the total Belgian figure in one year. Have you seen the images? This is unheard of.

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Phenomena like we see more and more in Belgium, will they continue? Should we expect to have more heat waves in the summer?

Since 2015, during each summer, we have been treated to at least one heat wave, except in 2021, the year with the catastrophic floods. Otherwise, we had at least one if not two heat waves like this year: in June and September. Before 1990, we had on average a heat wave every four years. Between 1990 and 2010, we had a heatwave or heat wave every two years. Now, each year, we have almost an average of 1 to 2 per year.

Does this worry you?

Yes. I am not a climatologist but I follow the evolution and prediction of climate models. And here, we still see that it was much less serious 20 years ago. The forecasts we made for 2020 or 2025 and what we are currently experiencing worry me, yes. Because we were not able to properly predict this intensity and the speed of climate change. Does this mean we can no longer enjoy the good weather? Certainly not. We must also take advantage of it. But you have to be vigilant. There are still dangers approaching Belgium. We had flooding in some places. Global warming does not explain everything but, yes, it plays a role. As well as these heat waves…

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