2006 European heat wave

The 2006 European heat wave was a period of exceptionally hot weather that arrived at the end of June 2006 in certain European countries. The United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Italy, Poland, the Czech Republic and Germany were most affected. Several records were broken. In The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Ireland and the UK, July 2006 was the warmest month since official measurements began.



Belgium experienced two heat waves in July 2006. Before 1990 a heat wave occurred about once every 8 years, but during the last decade the country averages one heat wave per year. On July 19, 2006, temperatures throughout the entire country rose to 36 °C (97 °F), making it the hottest July day in almost 60 years. The highest temperatures were recorded at the stations of Kleine Brogel and Genk, which measured 37.5 °C (99.5 °F) and 38.3 °C (100.9 °F), respectively.

There were 36 consecutive days of temperatures above 25 °C (77 °F) where the heat wave lasted for 34 days straight . In the rest of the country, the second heat wave lasted for 17 days. The heat wave ended on July 30 in Belgium and on July 31 in Campine.

July was the warmest month in Belgium since records began in 1830 with average maximum temperatures of 28.6 °C in Uccle, Brussels. This was 1.8 °C warmer than the previous record set in July, 1994 and 7 °C warmer than the 30-year meteorological average for Belgium. July 2006 was also one of the sunniest months in Belgian history, with 316 hours of sunshine or more than 140 hours more than what's considered normal.

United Kingdom

At 14:32 BST on Wednesday, July 19, 2006, it was confirmed that the previous highest July maximum temperature, (36.0 °C, 96.8 °F at Epsom, Surrey in 1911), had been beaten at Charlwood, near Gatwick Airport with a temperature of 36.3 °C (97.3 °F). Later it was confirmed that 36.5 °C (97.7 °F) had been recorded at Wisley, Surrey. This confirmed that the period of prolonged warm weather was a true heat wave. However, despite some predictions, the United Kingdom's all-time temperature high of 38.5 °C (101.3 °F) attained at Faversham, Kent, on 10 August, 2003 was not reached.

Drought was an issue in many parts of the United Kingdom after a very dry winter. There was warning of drought occurring from the early months of 2006. Following the dry winter, with extreme temperatures occurring in the country and little rain, increasing strain was put on water supplies, and hose-pipe bans were issued in many counties. The Environment Agency claimed that the UK may have had the most severe drought in 100 years.

Some power cuts also occurred, some after lightning strikes and some due to large amounts of electricity used by air conditioners. In Central London on 27 July 2006 a series of power cuts hit Piccadilly Circus, Regent's Street, Turner Broadcasting UK and Oxford Circus causing the closure of shops and businesses, when pre-existing faults were worsened by heavy demand.

The Met Office confirmed that July 2006 was the warmest month on record across the UK, and a number of regional records were also broken. [http://www.met-office.gov.uk/corporate/pressoffice/2006/pr20060801.html]


In Germany most of the July temperature average records were broken. In Mannheim/Ludwigshafen a July average of 26°C were recorded which means a temperature anomaly of 6°C (in the same cities temperatures over 40°C). In Berlin an average temperature of 25°C were recorded (7°C from normal). Such numbers were recorded all over Germany. The biggest problem was the precipitation, which mostly fell in intense thunderstorms. At least 20 people died in this heatwave.


Denmark experienced the warmest July ever with an average temperature (day and night) of 19.8 degrees, breaking a record of 19.5 degrees set in 1994. It was the second warmest month ever, behind August 1997 at 20.4 degrees. It was also the sunniest July ever, and the second sunniest ever, at 321 hours. In fact the previous July record was 290 hours. Since Denmark escaped the extremes seen further south, it is now known as one of the best summer months ever. In 2008 the summer of June is expected to be around 35 degrees warmes in Denmark history. [http://vejret.tv2.dk/nyt/article.php/id-4579587.html]


High temperatures in France destroyed many crops, just days before the harvest period, while French officials said at least 40 people were confirmed to have been killed by the heat wave directly. Temperatures as high as 37 °C (99 °F) were recorded in Paris during the heatwave. July 2006 has been in many regions the warmest July ever recorded (and often the second warmest month after August 2003). In many regions weather has been particularly stormy. In Nice the all time high temperature record is beaten with a 37.7 C recorded on August the 1st.


Ireland was affected from the heat wave from the start of June, and the warm weather continued until the end of July.

Temperatures were well above average for both months. The highest recorded in June was 27.0 °C (80.6 °F) at Derrylin, County Fermanagh (NI) on 8 June. In Kilkenny, County Kilkenny, there were 29 consecutive days in July with temperatures over 20 °C (68 °F), and 9 of these days had temperatures over 25 °C (77 °F). July 2006 was the warmest July in Ireland since records began. By the end of July, temperatures returned to average figures.

On 18 July, a temperature of 30.1 °C was recorded in Birr, County Offaly; the same day, 30.2 °C was recorded at Kilkenny Castle, County Kilkenny and Shannon Airport, County Clare. However, temperatures again rose to 31.0 °C at Casement Aerodrome, Dublin; and 32.3°C (90 °F) at Elphin, County Roscommon on the 19 July [http://www.met.ie/climate/monthly_summarys/annual06.pdf] - this is the warmest temperature recorded in Ireland since 1976. Temperatures over 30 °C (86 °F) are rare in Ireland, being recorded about once every decade - 1976, 1983, 1995 and now 2006 are the most recent times of such high temperatures. The highest ever recorded in Ireland was 33.3 °C (91.94 °F) at Kilkenny Castle, County Kilkenny on 26 June 1887.

To put this into context, average daily maximums in Ireland in only vary from 15 °C - 20 °C (59 °F - 68 °F) in June; and 16 °C - 23 °C (61 °F - 73 °F) in July.

Despite the high daytime temperatures, night time temperatures were substantially below average (6 °C - 11 °C in June; 8 °C - 13 °C in July). Grass temperatures as low as -2.3 °C (27.86 °F) were recorded at Birr, County Offaly on 23 June, however the lowest air temperature recorded was 3.8 °C (38.84 °F) recorded at the same location on the same date. The cool night time temperatures are thought to have made the heat wave more bearable there.

Sunshine levels were very high all over the country, with 257 hours (~8.6 hours a day) of sunshine recorded at Cork Airport, County Cork in June (making it the sunniest June since records began) and 283 hours (~9.1 hours a day) of sunshine at Rosslare, County Wexford in July (sunniest July since 1990). The sunniest day during the two months (and indeed, the year) was on 25 June, when Malin Head, County Donegal, recorded 15.8 hours of sunshine.

Rainfall levels were also quite low, with only 14.6 mm (0.57in) of rain at Armagh, County Armagh (NI) in June and 14.0 mm (0.55in) of rain recorded at Casement Aerodrome in July. Parts of Munster and Leinster also recorded 21 days between 28 May and 17 June where no rainfall was recorded. There was also a period between 9 July and 27 July when no rainfall was recorded in Greater Dublin. Despite the low rainfall, drought was not an issue in Ireland.

In Ireland, [http://www.met.ie/climate/monthly_summarys/may06.pdf May 2006] was the warmest for 20 years and sunniest since 2000; [http://www.met.ie/climate/monthly_summarys/jun06.pdf June 2006] was the sunniest on record, driest since 1995 and also one of the warmest; [http://www.met.ie/climate/monthly_summarys/jul06.pdf July 2006] was the warmest on record, sunniest in 15 years and also driest since 1989; [http://www.met.ie/climate/monthly_summarys/aug06.pdf August 2006] was average; [http://www.met.ie/climate/monthly_summarys/sep06.pdf September 2006] was the warmest on record; [http://www.met.ie/climate/monthly_summarys/oct06.pdf October 2006] was the warmest in many places since 2001 and sunniest since 2000; and [http://www.met.ie/climate/monthly_summarys/nov06.pdf November 2006] was warmer and sunnier than usual. Overall, [http://www.met.ie/climate/monthly_summarys/summer06.pdf Summer 2006] (June, July and August) was the sunniest, driest and warmest summer since 1995; and one of the sunniest, driest and warmest on record. [http://www.met.ie/climate/monthly_summarys/autumn06.pdf Autumn 2006] (September, October, November) was the warmest on record in many places, and sunshine levels were well above normal; however, rainfall levels were also above average too.

The months of June and July 2006 are regarded as one of the best summers ever due to the high levels of sunshine, warm temperatures and low rainfall. Drought and health problems were not an issue in Ireland, unlike many parts of Europe - mostly because the heat was not as severe there.


According to the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI), the city of Lund in Skåne in southern Sweden had the highest average temperatures (day and night: 21.6 °C and 70.9 °F) for the month of July since records began in 1859. The rest of Sweden has however not broken the daily average temperatures from the record year 1994.

The highest temperature in Sweden in July 2006 was recorded in Målilla in Småland, where a temperature of 34.2 °C (93.6 °F) was recorded on July 6. This is the highest temperature recorded in the country since July 1994 when Kalmar and Söderhamn had 35.1 °C (95.2 °F).Målilla and Ultuna are the places where the highest temperature ever in Sweden was recorded, 38.0 °C (100.4 °F), in 1947 and 1933 respectively.

The Netherlands

July 2006With a monthly average of 22.3 °C (72.1 °F), KNMI statistics show July 2006 was the warmest-ever month on record for the Netherlands. [http://www.knmi.nl/klimatologie/maand_en_seizoensoverzichten/maand/jul06.html] Around 500 or 1,000 more people than usual died in July 2006 [http://www.cbs.nl/nl-NL/menu/themas/mens-maatschappij/bevolking/publicaties/artikelen/2006-2003-wm.htm] ["The Netherlands recorded 1,000 extra deaths during July when the country was hit by a summer heatwave, the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) has said. In the first week of July, 200 more people were reported dead than the average figure for that period. Like other statistical agencies in Europe, the CBS did not directly blame the additional deaths on the heatwave. It noted however, that deaths increased in particular on days following high temperatures." [http://www.breitbart.com/news/2006/08/30/060830120657.nhp5lo9e.html] ]

Earlier, the Four Day Marches of Nijmegen had been cancelled after only one day as hundreds of people collapsed the first day, two of them eventually dying due to fatal heat stroke. The walking people had to walk on open roads without any shade and there was not enough water for everyone. Paramedics had their hands full with hundreds of people who fainted due to the heat. The walking people had to deal with temperatures in the sun of 42 degrees Celsius, which is nearly 108 degrees Fahrenheit. The air-temperatures on the first day of the four day march was about 36 degrees Celsius, 97 degrees Fahrenheit. Forecasts showed even higher temperatures of 37 °C (99 °F) for the next day, causing the organization to cancel the remainder of the event. [http://www.4daagse.nl/index.asp?taal=en&pagina=homepagina&interactivepage=]

The highest temperature was recorded on July 19 (see picture), when temperatures reached for most of the country the mid to upper 30's °C (mid to upper 90's °F), Especially in the southeast. The all time record for the month of July was broken; temperatures soared to 37.2°C (99°F). A few hundred meters across the border into Germany, at the weather station Kalkar, located at the airport in Weeze, near Nijmegen, a maximum of 38.6°C (101°F) was recorded on the nineteenth. At some places especially in the southeast of The Netherlands temperatures passed 30°C (86°F) for 15 or 16 days. And the average daytime month temperature was 30°C (86°F) again in the southeast of The Netherlands and the lowest daytime temperature was at some locations 24.1°C (75.5°F). for the whole month of July. For two days daytime temperatures were below 25°C (77°F), making 29 days with temperatures of 25 degrees and higher. During days when temperatures reached 30°C or higher, and on days without wind, the smog level was very high. Warnings were given on the TV and on the radio, advising people to stay indoors as much as possible because the air pollution was very unhealthy, the smog was very strong and it was dangerously hot.

The Netherlands also had to deal with extreme drought, in June and July it practically didn't rain. The rainfall in June was at some locations right around 0.5 centimeters (0.20 inches), July was also extremely dry. Because of the extreme heat and drought everything was very dry and the humidity levels were very low too, causing brushfires.

On 30 January 2007 the United Nations published a file of all countries in the world with the most deaths, related to natural disasters in 2006. The Netherlands made it to fourth place, with 1000 heat-related deaths.

Period after the heat wave

Due to the extreme heat in July 2006, the ocean water reached a temperature normally reached in September. This increase in water temperature led to faster evaporation of ocean waters, making August one of the cloudiest and wettest months in recorded history in various western European countries. Many weather experts report this to be a direct consequence of the heat wave, as the high evaporation rate caused the atmosphere to generate many low pressure areas.Despite this, September 2006 was again the warmest September on record, in the UK and elsewhere, due to high ocean temperatures, altered atmospheric pressure zones, and consequent different wind directions over Europe. The pressure zone changes were a consequence of the extra-tropical remnants of Atlantic hurricanes settling over the British isles.

The Met Office announced on 16 October 2006 that the extended summer of May to September 2006 was the hottest summer ever recorded, the Central England temperature mean temperature of 16.2 °C for this summer was 2 °C warmer than the average temperatures of 1961-1990. [http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/corporate/pressoffice/2006/pr20061016.html]

In the Netherlands

Just two months after July 2006, September 2006 became the warmest September since official measurements started. Additionally, October 2006 and November 2006 broke several temperature records. October was one of the warmest Octobers since measurements began, and November went into the record books as the second warmest November since official measurements started three hundred years prior. With temperatures from the north of the Netherlands to the south of Belgium ranging between 16 and 18 °C at the end of November, previous records were shattered. The autumn of 2006 was the warmest autumn in history, breaking the old record of just one year prior (2005) by 1.4°C. The winter of 06/07 was the warmest in three hundred years as well, and so was the following spring.

With the exception of August 2006, every month from April 2006 to June 2007 saw temperatures above average, the most bizarre months being January 2007 which noted an average temperature of 7.1 °C rather than 2.8 °C, and April 2007 with 13.1 °C as opposed to 8.1 °C. Temperatures reached a record-breaking 29.7 °C (85 °F) as early as April 15. The average April daytime maximum in the Netherlands is around 12 °C.

Such a sequence of events is unheard of in the Netherlands meteorological history, estimated to happen every 8.000 years when not taking global warming into account. It's been a result of a unique mixture of the hot summer increasing marine temperatures and Northern Atlantic hurricanes settling as depressions off the coast of Scotland, giving the European continent a constant stream of southern, fast winds rendering it unable to cool down from the Mediterranean through to northern Europe.

In Belgium

After the record-breaking month of July, August also broke records, but just the opposite of July. August 2006 was very rainy, at some places more than 200 mm (approx. 8 inches) of rain fell. The sunshine totalled only 90 hours, less than half the normal, also a record. the average temperature was about 16.3°C (61°F). September 2006 was the warmest month in history, with an average temperature of 18.4°C (65°F), while the normal temperature is 14.6°C. September 2006 was thus warmer than August 2006. October 2006 was the second warmest in history with an average temperature of 14.2°C (normally: 10.5°C). November 2006 was the 4th warmest month in history, with an average temperature of 9.1°C (normally: 6.1°C). December 2006 was also too warm.

The autumn of 2006 was the warmest in recorded history.

2007 has also broke many records. January 2007 broke all temperature records (minimum, maximum and average) - the average temperature was 7.2°C, while the normal is just 2.6°C. February 2007 set some day records and was 2°C warmer than normal.

The winter of 2007 was also the warmest in history.

March 2007 was the 6th warmest month in history, just 0.8°C less than the record. April 2007 was also the warmest month in history, the average temperature being 5°C warmer than normal. Kleine Brogel had 2 tropical days on 15 and 16 April 2007 (30.0 and 30.7°C), the earliest dates ever. May and June were also expected to be warmer than normal.

In Finland

The summer of 2006 was around 2 °C warmer than the 1971-2000 average. While the heat was not record breaking, the drought was: less than half of the average summer rainfall was received in large areas, and almost all of the country received less than 75% of the usual rain. In many localities (such as Jokioinen, Kajaani, and Rovaniemi, it was the driest summer on record. [cite web | title = Kesän 2006 säät, kuivuus ja lämpö (Summer 2006 weather, drought and temperatures) | publisher = Finnish Meteorological Institute | url = http://www.fmi.fi/saa/tilastot_161.html | accessdate = 2007-07-17 ] Autumn 2006 was also 1-2 °C warmer than the average [cite web | title = Syystilastot (Autumn weather) | publisher = Finnish Meteorological Institute | url = http://www.fmi.fi/saa/tilastot_69.html | accessdate = 2007-07-17 ] . While this didn't break any records, an unprecedented period of mild weather began around the middle of November.

December 2006 was the warmest December ever recorded in Finland. In Helsinki, the December mean temperature was 4.0 °C (39 °F), beating the previous record of 2.9 °C set in 1929. Similar records were broken across the southern and central parts of the country, while in the north the old records narrowly remained in place. On the 6th, an all time December high of 10.8 °C was recorded at Salo. [cite web | title = Joulukuun 2006 sää ja tilastot (December 2006 weather and statistics) | publisher = Finnish Meteorological Institute | url = http://www.fmi.fi/saa/tilastot_66.html | accessdate = 2007-07-17 ]

The mild weather continued well into January 2007. On January 10th, many places in Southern Finland observed record highs for January. These included Helsinki-Vantaa at 8.2 °C, Turku at 8.4 °C, and Lappeenranta at 7.0 °C. (The national record high for January, 10.9 °C set at Maarianhamina in 1973, remained in place.) As a whole, the two months leading to January 16th were the mildest such period ever recorded in Finland. In Helsinki, the mean temperature for this period was 4.1 °C, beating the previous record of 2.2 °C set in 1982-83. In Sodankylä, it was -4.7 °C (previous record -5.3 °C set in 1972-73). In the second half of January, temperatures plunged [cite web | title = Tammikuun 2007 sää ja tilastot (January 2007 weather and statistics) | publisher = Finnish Meteorological Institute | url = http://www.fmi.fi/saa/tilastot_51.html | accessdate = 2007-07-17 ] and February 2007 was well below the average over 1971 to 2000. [cite web | title = Tammikuun 2007 sää ja tilastot (February 2007 weather and statistics) | publisher = Finnish Meteorological Institute | url = http://www.fmi.fi/saa/tilastot_52.html | accessdate = 2007-07-17 ]

In France

After the unusually hot July, August brought a big contrast with cool weather, cloudy skies and pretty wet weather patterns all around the country, with the exception of the Mediterranean coast.

September however turned to be very warm and sunny and in many parts of France it was the warmest in 50 years. October too was very warm and so was November, triggering in many regions the warmest autumn (September-October-November)in recorded history. A very rare föhn-like warm spell affected northern and western France on November the 25th and brought temperature as high as 18 C at 7 in the morning in Paris.

Even more amazingly December, January and February also brought extremely mild weather making the winter of 2006-2007 the warmest in recorded history.

March was relatively uneventful with average temperatures and precipitations. However April broke the record for the warmest April on record. In many regions it was also the sunniest (with almost uninterrupted sunshine for the whole 30 days) and the driest April on record. In northern and northeastern France the departure from the normal of the average temperature was as high as 5 C. May was too very warm making the spring 2007 the warmest in recorded history for some regions.

ee also

* Global warming
* 2006 North American heat wave


References and External Links

* [http://www.wetteronline.de/feature/2006/07/19_hw.htm German site]
* [http://www.knmi.nl/VinkCMS/news_detail.jsp?id=33185 Dutch Site (KNMI)]
* [http://www.bbc.co.uk/weather/world/news/19072006news.shtml British site]
* [http://www.weatheronline.co.uk/feature/2006/08/07_pe.htm Heat wave in UK (Philip Eden)]
* [http://www.kmi.be RMI website]
* [http://www.rte.ie/news/2006/0718/sunbathing.html RTÉ News Irish news article]
* [http://edition.cnn.com/2006/WEATHER/07/19/europe.heat.reut/index.html CNN article on heat wave]
* [http://www.vrtnieuws.net/ Belgian Site (VRT News)]
* [http://www.netweather.tv/index.cgi?action=uk7dayx2;sess= Humidex graph for British weather forecasts !Updates!]
* [http://www.dn.se/DNet/jsp/polopoly.jsp?d=147&a=562353&previousRenderType=6 Swedish news site (DN)]
* [http://www.fmi.fi/saa/tilastot.html Climate statistics of the Finnish Meteorological Institute]

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