Extreme heat triggers code orange warning

Meteorological institute KNMI issued a code orange weather warning for extreme heat in the entire country, except for the Wadden area. The warning is in place from 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday until Friday.

The Netherlands is dealing with tropical temperatures this week, with maximum temperatures above 30 degrees. Thursday and Friday will be especially hot. Maximums of 35 degrees Celsius or higher are expected inland and in urban areas. The nights will also be warm, with minimus around 20 degrees.

"Persistent heat with little or no cooling at night. Stay hydrated. Keep yourself and your home cool. Limit physical exertion. Be well prepared when traveling", the KNMI warns.

Public health institution RIVM implemented the National Heat Plan for this week. In addition to the above advice, the RIVM also calls on people to stay in the shade when outside and apply sunscreen regularly. The Heat Plan also calls for extra attention to vulnerable groups like the elderly. 

On Tuesday senior citizens' organization ANBO dismissed this call by the RIVM and the Red Cross as "fear mongering", NU.nl reports. "It makes sense that you do not wear a winter coat now", a spokesperson said. "What is in the Heat Plan that you don't already know? That you have to drink enough, apply sunscreen, look for the shade and care fo vulnerable elderly people? Professionals in nursing homes have done this for a long time. And elderly people also often experienced warm summers."

The RIVM rejected this criticism. The National Heat Plan was created in 2007, after extremely hot summers in 2003 and 2006. Statistics Netherlands previously said that a thousand more people than normal died in those summers. "If it is one degree warmer for a week, 30 people more will die than usual", an RIVM spokesperson said to the newspaper. According to the spokesperson, France and England already had such heat plans and the Netherlands' plan is partly based on them.

Along with the heat, the weather services expect very little or no rain for the rest of the week. There is therefore a very good chance that the Netherlands' drought record dating from 1976 will be broken in the coming days. Multiple water saving measures have already been implemented, including a ban on irrigation using surface water in some parts of the country.

Swimmers across the country are warned to be careful of blue-green algae during the hot days. The algae can cause serious skin and eye irritations. The heat also affected shipping traffic in Amsterdam. Large ships currently can't use the Oostroute through the capital - the heat caused the metal of the bridges on the route to expand to such an extent that they are "locked" and can't open to let large ships through. 

The water company in Groningen announced on Tuesday that it is lowering water pressure in the province, to be able to keep up with the demand. Water consumption in the province reached record highs on Monday. Normally 4.5 million liters of water is consumed per hour during peak times. On Monday that nearly doubled to 8 million liters. The water pressure reduction is slight, and consumers should not even notice it. But it helps build up buffers. 

"We can always supply water, but consumption is always higher at certain times of the day, such as in the morning and in the evening. We have buffers for that, but on Monday there was so much consumption that these buffers are likely to run out fast", a spokesperson for Waterbedrijf Groningen said to RTL Nieuws. "We do urge people not to water their gardens, or to do so with ditch water. Drinking water is always allowed, that is important. We also understand that people like having a green lawn, but achieve that in a different way for a while."