European Heat Wave Shifts East; All-Time Heat Records Tumble in Germany

July 1, 2019, 3:16 PM EDT

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Above: People cool off at a lake in Haltern am See, western Germany, on June 26, 2019. Temperatures in Gemany reached as high as 38.6°C that day, setting a new all-time German heat record for June that had stood since 1947. That record was beaten again on Sunday, June 30, with a 39.6°C reading at river Saale. Image credit: INA FASSBENDER/AFP/Getty Images.

More than 30 locations in Central Europe—including towns and cities in Denmark, France, Germany, and Poland—set all-time heat records on Sunday as the continent’s historic June heat wave of 2019 shifted eastward. Three nations set all-time heat records for the month of June on Sunday: Germany, Switzerland, and Lichtenstein. The heat wave is easing on Monday, thankfully, as a cold front moves eastward over Central Europe.

In a separate heat wave, Sunday was the hottest day in recorded history for the Caribbean nation of Cuba, which recorded an all-time heat mark of 39.1°C (102.4°F) at Veguitas. Thanks go to weather records experts Jérôme Reynaud for this information.

In Germany alone, there were 34 all-time heat records on Sunday, and at least 243 stations saw their hottest June temperature on record, according to statistics compiled by German meteorologist Michael Theusner. Many of the June records in Germany were broken by impressive margins of 1.5–2.5°C (2.7–4.5°F), which testifies to the exceptional nature of the heat (as already noted in France, where more than a dozen stations on Friday broke that nation’s previous all-time high).

At the river Saale in Bernburg, Germany, a scorching high of 39.6°C (103.3°F) on Sunday was not only that station’s hottest temperature on any date in records going back to 1898, but the hottest temperature ever observed anywhere in Germany during any June. According to Theusner, the station’s previous all-time record was set just a year ago—with 39.5°C on July 31, 2018—and its previous June record was set just last Wednesday, with 36.5°C.

Below is a sampling compiled by Theusner of the all-time heat records set in Germany on Sunday, including the previous all-time and June records and the year that each station’s period of record (POR) begins. At the top of the list are the three oldest stations in Germany with reliable long-term datasets, one of them going back almost 200 years. Each broke its all-time record high on Sunday.

Jena Astronomical Observatory: 38.8°C (101.8°F) (old records 38.7°C on 7 August 2015, 37.1°C on 26 June 2019, 35.8°C on 24 June 2016; POR 1824)
Putbus: 35.8°C (96.4°F) (old records 34.7°C on 8 August 2018, 34.2°C on 21 June 2000; POR 1853)
Leipzig-Holzhausen: 38.4°C (101.1°F) (old records 38.0°C on 3 August 1943, 36.4°C on 30 June 1957; POR 1863)
Geisenheim: 38.7°C (101.7°F) (old records 38.2°C on 7 August 2015, 37.3 on 27 June 1947; POR 1884)
Marnitz: 37.1°C (98.8°F) (old records 36.8°C on 4 July 2015, 35.8°C on 20 June 2000; POR 1902)
Dillenburg: 39.0°C (102.2°F) (old records 38.4°C on 4 July 2015, 36.7°C on 26 June 2019, 35.1°C on 18 June 2002; POR 1947)
Frankfurt/Main (Frankfort Airport): 39.3°C (102.7°F) (old records 38.8°C on 5 July 2015, 37.5°C on 18 June 2002/26 June 2019; POR 1949)

The heat took a highly visible toll on athletic events. A half-marathon race in Hamburg that drew more than 8000 participants saw 141 runners treated for heat-related conditions and 57 taken to the hospital, according to the Daily Sabah. At the European Ironman Championship in Frankfurt, star U.S. athlete Sarah True—who had been leading in the marathon—was carried off the track after crumpling to the ground.

Elsewhere across Europe

The parade of heat records on Sunday extended well beyond Germany. In Prague, Czech Republic, the station at the Clementinum complex—one of the world's most venerable weather recording sites, with continuous data going back to 1775—set its all-time high on Sunday with 37.9°C (100.2°F), just above the 37.8°C recorded in 1983 and 2013.

In Austria, downtown Innsbruck set an all-time high with 38.5°C (101.3°F). The Austrian city of Krems also set its all-time high with the same value, according to weather records researcher Maximiliano Herrera.

In Denmark, Copenhagen’s Kastrup Airport, where records go back nearly a century, tied its all-time hottest reading with 31.7°C (89.1°F).

Sunday’s reading of 37.0°C (98.6°F) at Sion, Switzerland, marked a new nationwide heat record for June.

The high of 37.1°C (98.8°F) at Balzers, Lichtenstein, on Sunday was a June record and the second hottest temperature on record for that nation, according to Herrera.

Although the heat peaked on Friday across most of France, the nation’s easternmost big city—Strasburg, just across the Rhine River from Germany—set its all-time high of Sunday with a reading of 38.8°C (101.8°F).

See the end of this article for a fuller list of all-time local records and monthly national records set over the past few days.

The role of climate change in Europe’s epic heat wave of 2019

"For all practical purposes, the heat wave is caused by human-made global warming,” Columbia University’s Jim Hansen told CBS News in an interview last week. Hansen gained fame more than 30 years ago, in the parched U.S. summer of 1988, when he testified before Congress that the world was seeing the first signs of climate change due to human-produced greenhouse gases. One of Hansen’s strongest statements at the time: ''It is time to stop waffling so much and say that the evidence is pretty strong that the greenhouse effect is here.''

In his CBS interview, Hansen said that the odds of a heat wave as intense as this past week’s in Europe would be extremely remote without the contribution of heat-trapping emissions from fossil fuels.

Figure 1. The Weather Company’s outlook for temperatures across Europe in July (left) and August (right). Image credit: TWC/Todd Crawford.

More rounds of intense heat may plague Europe later this summer

The past week’s incredible early-season heat in Europe could be followed by some unfortunate sequels later this summer. Seasonal outlooks produced last week by The Weather Company (TWC) show a high likelihood of hotter-than-average temperatures in both July and August—typically the hottest months of the year—across much of central and eastern Europe.

The TWC outlook cites a record-negative phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), together with a persistent cold pool over the far North Atlantic waters, as factors that may persist through the summer, favoring recurrent episodes of intense heat over central and eastern Europe. Most years with negative NAO phases in May and June see similar conditions in July and August, notes Todd Crawford (@tcrawf_nh), who leads TWC’s seasonal prediction activities.

The June-July heat wave by the numbers

Below is a sampling of the many dozens of all-time highs set across Europe between June 26 and July 1, 2019, compiled by Maximiliano Herrera.


Clermont Ferrand, 40.9°C (105.6°F), June 26
La Rochelle, 40.5°C (104.9°F), June 27
Aurillac, 38.1°C (100.6°F), June 27
La Roche sur Yon, 38.8°C (101.8°F), June 27
Mende, 37.1°C (98.8°F), June 27
Gallargues le Montueux,* 45.9°C (114.6°F), June 28  
  *New national record high for France
Villevieille, 45.4°C (113.7°F), June 28
Nimes, 44.4°C (111.9°F), June 28
Carpentras, 44.3°C (111.7°F), June 28
Istres, 44.3°C (111.7°F), June 28
Montpellier, 43.5°C (110.3°F), June 28
Salon de Provence, 43.4°C (110.1°F), June 28
Arles, 42.8°C (109.0°F), June 28
St. Auban sur Durance, 42.2°C (108.0°F), June 28
Sete, 40.3°C (104.5°F), June 28
Perpignan, 42.4°C (108.3°F), June 28
Aix-en-Provence, 42.0°C (107.6°F), June 28
Avignon, 42.8°C (109.0°F), June 28
Aigues Mortes, 40.9°C (105.6°F), June 28
Barcelonnette, 36.7°C (98.1°F), June 28
Mont Aigoual, 29.9°C (85.8°F), June 28
Embrun, 38.4°C (101.1°F), June 28
Strasbourg Airport, 38.8°C (101.8°F), June 30


Alpinzentrum Rudolfshuette, 21.8°C (71.2°F), June 26
Prutz, 36.4°C (97.5°F), June 26
Seefeld, 32.7°C (90.9°F), June 26
Schrocken, 31.7°C (89.1°F), June 26
Schmittenhohe, 25.0°C (77.0°F), June 26
Krems, 38.5°C (101.3°F), June 30  38.8 1 July
Innsbruck, 38.5°C (101.3°F), June 30
Imst, 37.9°C (100.2°F), June 30


Saentis, 21.0°C (69.8°F), June 26
Corvatsch, 13.3°C (55.9°F), June 26
Davos, 29.8°C (85.6°F), June 26
Scuol, 33.3°C (91.9°F), June 26
San Bernardino, 29.4°C (84.9°F), June 26
Buffalora, 28.1°C (82.6°F), June 26
Piotta, 35.4°C (95.7°F), June 27
Montana, 31.0°C (87.8°F), June 27
Cimetta, 29.7°C (85.5°F), June 27
Robbia, 34.3°C (93.7°F), June 27
Koppigen, 36.5°C (97.7°F), June 27
Disentis, 33.3°C (91.9°F), June 27
Santa Maria, 31.7°C (89.1°F), June 27
Grachen, 30.6°C (87.1°F), June 27


Rottweil, 36.0°C (96.8°F), June 26
Greiswalder Oie, 32.3°C (90.1°F), June 26
Bernburg, 39.6°C (103.3°F), June 30
Frankfurt Airport, 39.3°C (102.7°F), June 30
Dillenburg, 39.0°C (102.2°F), June 30
Jena, 38.8°C (101.8°F), June 30
Geisenheim, 38.7°C (101.7°F), June 30
Lauchstadt, 38.2°C (100.8°F), June 30
Leipzig Observatory, 38.3°C (100.9°F), June 30
Berlin Tegel Airport, 38.6°C (101.5°F), June 30
Berlin Tempelhof Airport, 38.5°C (101.3°F), June 30
Berlin Schonefeld Airport, 38.4°C (101.1°F), June 30
Giessen Wettenberg, 38.1°C (100.6°F), June 30
Neuruppin, 38.0°C (100.4°F), June 30
Marnitz, 37.1°C (98.8°F), June 30
Weimar, 36.6°C (97.9°F), June 30
Greifswald, 36.6°C (97.9°F), June 30
Waldems, 36.5°C (97.7°F), June 30
Putbus, 35.8°C (96.4°F), June 30
Mittenwald Buckelwiesen, 34.2°C (93.6°F), June 30
Cape Arkona, 33.5°C (92.3°F), June 30
Kleiner Feldberg, 33.2°C (91.8°F), June 30


Aosta, 40.4°C (104.7°F), June 27
Mondovi, 40.2°C (104.4°F), June 27
Bolzano, 40.0°C (104.0°F), June 27
Mount Rose, 9.7°C (49.5°F), June 29
Mount Blanc, 9.3°C (48.7°F), June 29


Girona, 43.9°C (111.0°F), June 28
Madrid Retiro Observatory, 40.7°C, June 28
Lleida, 43.4°C (110.1°F), June 29
Calamocha, 39.5°C (103.1°F), June 29
Navacerrada, 32.0°C (89.6°F), June 29


Borda Vidal, 39.4°C (102.9°F), June 28  
* New national record high for Andorra


Tirstrup, 32.0°C (89.6°F), June 30


Malbun, 28.0°C (82.4°F), June 30


Gora, 36.0°C June 30
Swinoujscie, 37.8°C (100.0°F), June 30
Leszno, 37.6°C (99.7°F), June 30
Wlodawa, 37.2°C (99.0°F), July 1

Czech Republic

Prague Clementinum, 37.9°C (100.2°F), June 30
Kucharovice, 38.4°C, June 30
Mesto Albrechtice-Zary, 35.7°C, June 30


Lomnicky Stit, 19.5°C (67.1°F), July 1

Monthly and all-time national/territorial records set in June

Andorra: 39.4°C (102.9°F), Borda Vidal*
France: 45.9°C (114.6°F), Gallargues-le-Montueux*
Liechtenstein: 37.1°C (98.8°F), Balzers
Germany: 39.4°C (102.9°F), Bernburg
Czech Republic: 38.9°C (102.0°F), Doksany
Poland: 38.2°C (100.8°F), Radzyn
Luxembourg: 36.8°C (98.2°F), Petange
Switzerland: 37.0°C (98.6°F), Sion
* All-time record for any month

Bob Henson wrote most of this post.

The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.

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Dr. Jeff Masters

Dr. Jeff Masters co-founded Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. in air pollution meteorology at the University of Michigan. He worked for the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990 as a flight meteorologist.

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