At temperatures around 40 degrees, people sweat a lot in Germany, several federal states break the 40-degree mark and set heat records. It's getting a little cooler now - but it won't stay that way for long.
The hottest day of the year so far lies behind Germany. The 40-degree mark was broken in five federal states on Wednesday; there have been many new temperature records and some new national records (six so far) since weather records began. It was the hottest in Bad Mergentheim with 40.3 degrees, closely followed by Hamburg-Neuwiedenthal and Rudolstadt with 40.1 degrees. 40.0 degrees were measured in Pabstorf and Barsinghausen-Hohenbostel.
However, there were also places at a private measuring station that showed that it was even hotter locally, such as Gut Sunder in Lower Saxony with 40.4 degrees. The German record is 41.2 degrees, measured on July 25, 2019 at two stations in NRW. (You can find a list of the new temperature and state records in Germany in the info box below.)
Now the German Weather Service is preparing for a somewhat cooler intermezzo this Thursday. During the night there were thunderstorms in some regions, the temperatures dropped noticeably there. But Germany is not really out of the heat, said a DWD expert with a view to the coming days. It could get hotter again at the weekend and at the beginning of next week.
Heavy thunderstorms and storms were forecast for Thursday night, first in parts of Baden-Württemberg, later also for North Rhine-Westphalia and western Lower Saxony. This change in the weather initially had consequences, especially in the south. In the Kraichgau, there was a fatal accident on the Autobahn 6 in the direction of Nuremberg due to the rain-soaked road, in which a 58-year-old man died.
In the Allgäu, lightning set a house on fire and caused damage of around 1.5 million euros. And in Bavaria, a tree crashed into a house after being struck by lightning - without anyone being injured. Despite rain in some regions, it remains far too dry in Germany overall. Forest fires continue to break out in several parts of the country.
After days of heat and drought, the political discussion is also getting louder. The questions currently in focus are: Is a heat protection plan needed? And who is responsible for this? In view of the heat wave, the Federal Environment Agency (UBA) is urging cities to be better equipped to withstand high temperatures and heavy rain. "We have to rebuild our cities in order to be able to live with climate change," said President Dirk Messner. "Above all, this includes a lot more greenery in the cities. That cools things down significantly." When it rains, the city needs to be able to soak up and store the water so that it evaporates when it's hot, bringing another cooling effect.
The restructuring of cities as an important change in health protection must begin now. "We will have to unseal areas such as parking lots, streets and paved squares and make room for cooling green," explained Messner. This helps in the fight against heat and heavy rain, improves the quality of life in general and creates space for climate-friendly mobility such as cycling. Cities should create heat action plans across the board, which the federal and state governments should financially support, Messner recommended. Public facilities should be role models for heat prevention with nature-based measures: "For example, new daycare centers, gyms or fire stations should be consistently equipped with green roofs."
The situation is still dramatic in southern European countries. On the southern French Atlantic coast, for example, the fire brigade has been fighting two large forest fires for more than a week. In Tuscany, Italy, the emergency services continued to fight a large forest fire near the city of Lucca.