While commuters and holiday travelers lucky enough to board a train with a functioning air conditioning system (not a given even in a supposedly high-tech country such as Germany) may have found some respite, their sunny demeanor could quickly turn cloudy once they discover that they are stranded on the trains because they can’t actually move.
The high temperatures can cause points failures and signal disturbances, while in some places the tracks have buckled under the heat. This phenomenon is known as sun kink. A spokeswoman for Germany‘s rail company Deutsche Bahn said on Wednesday that “our technology has reached its limits in these extreme temperatures.”
Austrian rail authorities have painted tracks white in an attempt to stop them buckling
Germans are car-crazy. But even owning the flashiest, fastest car won’t help if there’s a gaping hole in the surface of the motorway. Extreme heat can cause tarmac to melt and concrete surfaces to buckle and rip. Here in Germany that’s been referred to as “blow-ups.” Essentially the concrete slabs don’t have enough room to expand in the heat. They then push against each other, causing them to crack apart. Concrete motorways are most at risk if there is already previous damage, especially on older sections of motorways and roads.
Rather than leaving their salt gritters to gather dust, the Dutch have decided that what works in winter works in summer too
Is there a way to prevent those scenarios? Yes. In this regard, the Dutch are one step ahead. Arnhem’s city council decided that what works in winter can also work in summer. They dispatched their salt gritter lorries after determining that salt not only provides traction in freezing conditions, but can also be used to stop asphalt from melting. The council says the salt helps by attracting moisture from the air and cooling the surface. It also removes excess moisture from the asphalt, making it less sticky.
Spare a thought for the Tour de France riders who are tackling three days of climbing in the Alps in these temperatures. But at least they’re getting paid. Unless you’re making the same amount of money, avoid cycling (walking, running) to work or anywhere for that matter in this heat.
Taking a boat up and down the Rhine River sounds eminently agreeable not least because of the slight breeze. However, river authorities are warning that water levels are sinking. In places, the Rhine is barely navigable. Low water levels already crippling the Danube in Bavaria have prompted officials to bar hotel ships from using a 60-kilometer (39-mile) stretch upstream from the town of Vilshofen.
If you’re not bothered about your carbon footprint or facing the wrath of environmental activists, you would probably think that flying is your best bet to get from A to B. Planes are designed and equipped to cope with both low and high temperature extremes. However, there is one caveat: If temperatures exceed 47 degrees Celsius (116 Fahrenheit), planes can be grounded as some aircraft manufacturers can’t guarantee the necessary engine propulsion. The warmer it gets, the less density there is in the air, which in turn results in less upwind for the wings.
Before you reschedule or cancel your flight, we’re not quite there yet here in Western Europe. The scenario described above occurred in the US state of Arizona. But there are concerns it could become a regular feature, especially in the Arab region, where global warming is expected to lead to more frequent and extreme heat waves.
This week, Germany and western Europe are bracing for another record-breaking week of heat. A high-pressure “heat dome” could send temperatures towards 40 degrees Celsius (104.5 Fahrenheit) on Wednesday, probably peaking on Thursday. The German Weather Service (DWD) issued a heat warning for the entire country for Wednesday and Thursday. The heat is expected to last until the weekend.
A dried-out park in Cologne. DWD meteorologists said that temperatures on Thursday in the heavily populated areas around Cologne and the Ruhr region in western Germany could break the country’s all-time heat record of 40.3 C (104 F) — set in the Bavarian village of Kitzingen in 2015. This heat wave could be “one for the history books” said a DWD spokesperson on Monday.
The French weather service said temperatures in Paris on Thursday are forecast to reach a stifling 42 C (107 F), which would break the city’s all-time heat record of 40.4 C (104.7 F) that has stood for over 70 years. The UK could also break its heat record of 38.5 C (101 F) on Thursday.
Air conditioners are uncommon in Germany. Those in the north can cool off by the sea, but people living in the rest of the country will pack into public pools or wade into rivers and lakes. Residents of Munich often cool off in the Isar River, which cuts through the city. June 2019 was the hottest June ever recorded in Germany.
Highways can buckle under extreme heat, as on this autobahn highway in Lower Saxony in northern Germany. These so-called “blow ups” happen suddenly and are very dangerous for drivers. Authorities in Germany often issue temporary speed limits on highways during heat waves in a bid to limit the risks.
Cyclists are slogging through 40 C (104 F) heat during the decisive week of a thrilling Tour de France, as the race route crosses through the country’s scorched southeast. Organizers set up ice foot baths and extra water stations. The pros often have no choice, but health authorities advise against outdoor exercise in extreme temperatures.
Washington, New York and Boston on the the US east coast experienced record heat over the weekend. A cold front broke the heat wave on Tuesday, bringing severe thunderstorms that caused flooding and power outages in New York and New Jersey. On Cape Cod, a popular vacation destination in Massachusetts, a rare tornado ripped the roof off a hotel.
Workers manufacture ice blocks at a factory in China‘s eastern Anhui province. A heat wave is currently gripping parts of eastern China, including Beijing, with temperatures this week ranging from 33 to 37 C (91-98 F). The heat has created a spike in demand for ice.
According to the North American Atmospheric Association (NOAA), this past June was the hottest ever recorded worldwide — and NOAA predicts that July 2019 is on track to be the hottest month since records began 140 years ago. Climate scientists warn that the unprecedented heat waves seen in 2019 will be normal weather events in the future.
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