Heatwave: Germany braced for hottest day ever as temperatures set to top 40C

Germany was set for its hottest day ever on Thursday amid a Europe wide heatwave, following a record-breaking Wednesday.

Heatwave: Germany braced for hottest day ever as temperatures set to top 40C
Bathers in Passau, Bavaria, cool down in Wednesday's extreme heat. Photo: DPA

Temperatures are expected to exceed 40C in western parts of the country.

It came after a new record high temperature was set on Wednesday, the German Meteorological Service said.

The high of 40.5C was recorded in Geilenkirchen, north of Aachen in North Rhine-Westphalia, which tops the previous high of 40.3 degrees recorded in Bavaria in 2015. 

The reading, tweeted out by Germany's DWD weather service, was not taken at one of its own measuring stations, but one operated by NATO. That meant it had to be double-checked, a DWD forecaster told DPA.

On Thursday afternoon the record was confirmed. But it is likely that this record could be smashed on Thursday, the peak of the heatwave.

The DWD said in a tweet that they had reviewed the reading and confirmed a new record of 40.5C recorded in Geilenkirchen on July 24th.

READ ALSO: 'Heatwave could go down in history': Germany faces temperatures up to 41C

On Wednesday they had said it was an “expected new temperature record in Germany”. “Tomorrow (Thursday) it will be a little hotter regionally”, the DWD explained in a tweet which included the top 10 hottest places in Germany.  “Today's record may only last one day.”

Heat warnings issued

On Thursday, temperatures were expected to be between 32 and 37C in some areas, and in the hottest areas in the western part of the country it could top 40C again.

Forecasters said temperatures below 30C will only be found on the Baltic and North Sea coasts or on the mountains above 1000 meters. The highest temperatures of the day are usually reached at about 5pm.

Peak heat warnings have been issued by the DWD.

The service tweeted a map with the temperatures from Wednesday and the expected highs for Thursday, showing just hot Germany will be.

On Wednesday, Germany sweltered in the heat. Overnight temperatures remained high – hardly dropping below 24C in western spots, like the Rhine-Main region, according to the DWD.

Meteorologists are blaming a weather front, dubbed 'Yvonne', which stretches from the central Mediterranean to Scandinavia, hanging over Europe.

READ ALSO: Is it ever legally too hot to go to work or school in Germany?

Bonn, Germany's former capital, saw the mercury hit 39C, while in Saarbrücken it was 40.2C.

Due to the heatwave, rivers are suffering from low water. Shrinking levels prompted authorities to ban hotel ships from using a 60km stretch of the Danube river near Vilshofen in Bavaria.

Meanwhile, the heatwave is set to keep other parts of Europe sizzling. On Thursday France's weather service predicted between 37 and 42C, which would likely break Paris' heat record set in 1947.

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Western Germany hit by second round of severe storms

Parts of Germany were once again pummelled by heavy thunderstorms on Monday - just days after the city of Paderborn was struck by a devastating tornado.

Western Germany hit by second round of severe storms

A severe weather warning was issued on Sunday by the German Weather Service (DWD), who cautioned residents in western and southwestern regions of the country that fierce gusts of wind, hailstones and heavy rain could once again be on the horizon.

A  second tornado could “not be ruled out” in the southwestern regions of the country, DWD warned. 

North Rhine-Westphalia, Hesse and Rhineland-Palatinate, were struck by heavy rain and hailstorms and strong gusts of wind throughout the afternoon.

However, the worst of the thunder and hailstorms warnings were for the state of Baden-Württemberg. 

Here, DWD issued a Stage 3 weather warning – the second highest possible. Severe thunderstorms with gale-force winds at speeds of up to 110km per hour were forecast, with up to 50 litres of rain per square metre falling in a short space of time.

According to the meteorologists, the storms are expected sweep across to the eastern regions of the country and ease off in the evening.

The storms and severe weather warnings came days after the city of Paderborn in North Rhine-Westphalia was hit by a devastating tornado.

According to the local fire brigade, 43 people were injured in the storm, with 13 of them needing to be hospitalised and one person reportedly fighting for their life. 

Railway services were cancelled across many parts of the west over the weekend, but resumed again on Monday.

Air travel in some parts of the country was also affected, with Frankfurt Airport in the central state of Hesse saying there was disruption to flights on Friday. 

Videos posted on social media depicted the strongest part of the tornado tearing through the city, ripping trees up by their roots.

The damage to infrastructure and buildings caused by the storm is estimated to be in the millions.

Schools remain closed

As of Monday, several schools and nurseries remained closed in both Paderborn and nearby Lippstadt due to fears that the buildings couldn’t be safely entered.

In the small town of Lippstadt alone, five nurseries and seven schools were closed for repairs on Monday, with administrators unable to say when they would reopen their doors.

“Given the extent of the damage we see at the various locations, it is currently unthinkable that classes can be held there in the next few days,” said Mayor Arne Moritz (CDU).

In Paderborn, meanwhile, drones were exploring five closed school buildings to check whether there was a risk of damaged roofs imploding. The streets where the schools are located have been closed off to the public and the police are believed to be patrolling outside to stop anyone entering.

READ ALSO: Tornado in western Germany injures dozens

Damaged roof in Paderborn

A damaged roof in the aftermath of the Paderborn storms. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Lino Mirgeler

More frequent tornadoes? 

Tornadoes aren’t infrequent in Central Europe, but recently appear to be gaining in frequency and intensity, which experts suggest could be a result of climate change. 

In June 2021, a deadly tornado swept through several villages in the Czech Republic near the Slovakian and Austrian borders, killing six people and injuring a further 200. 

At time, climatologists pointed out that until 2020, the Czech Republic only saw a handful of tornadoes each year – and most of them were relatively mild.

Speaking to WDR on Sunday, climate researcher Dr. Mojib Latif drew a direct parallel between warmer temperatures and more violent and regular storms.  

“In Germany there are approximately between 20 and 40 tornadoes per year,” he told the regional media outlet. “We have to reckon with that. As the climate gets warmer and thunderstorms become more violent, the frequency of tornadoes will also increase.”

However, some experts have been more cautious about drawing a direct link.

“That simply cannot be determined at the moment,” meteorologist Jürgen Schmidt told RND. 

Schmidt thinks the perception that tornadoes have increased in recent years could have a slightly more prosaic explanation.

The fact that people are able to record them on their smartphones and share these images more widely could contribute to this impression, he said. 

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How the climate crisis is hitting Europe hard