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Impact of heat on city supplies and infrastructure: Bonn on track to break heat record

Impact of heat on city supplies and infrastructure : Bonn on track to break heat record

Sweltering heat is affecting those living in Bonn and the temperatures continue to rise. Come mid-week, it could climb above 36 degrees Celsius for the first time this year. Here’s how the heat is impacting city supplies and infrastructure.

The name Helmut may sound rather boring and hardly anyone names their child Helmut these days but that is the name of the weather system bringing us a heat wave in the next few days. Temperatures could possibly reach near 40 degrees. Bonn climatologist Karsten Brandt is convinced of that. The managing director of Donnerwetter.de is already talking about a record summer, and not only for the people in Bonn and the region. The summer has been so warm all over Germany, something that hasn’t been seen in decades.

"We are currently experiencing exceptionally stable weather conditions," Brandt said to GA on Monday. Because the high pressure system above Scandinavia is blocking the westerly winds, which usually provide cooler air and rain at our latitudes, we are experiencing an unusually warm and dry summer in Germany, according to Brandt. By the end of the week there will be 74 days since April on which temperatures reached more than 25 degrees. "Normal for a summer for us are 25 days over 25 degrees Celsius." There was an average of eleven hours of sun per day in July.

At this stage, Brandt assumes that the stable weather pattern will probably last until August, so meteorologists and statisticians would be able to record 100 days above 25 Celsius. "That would be a record," says Brandt. He is convinced that this is a clear sign of global climate change.

While the heat has been bearable in the last days because temperatures cooled off significantly at night, Brandt predicts that this week will be different. Temperatures will climb for the first time above 36 or 37 and at night, it will no longer cool off as much. A trip to the swimming pool or a nearby lake is a good tip, and of course people should drink lots of fluids.

Water supply

According to Michael Henseler of the Stadtwerke (public utilities) press office in Bonn, there is no shortage of water in Bonn, there are plenty of adequate water reserves. And you can drink the Bonn water directly from the faucet without hesitation. This is exactly the tap water which the SWB will hand out on Münsterplatz every day next week to thirsty passers-by.

Buses and trams

SWB also advises passengers to keep hydrated. Only a few trams are air-conditioned. Henseler: "A good half of our buses are equipped with a temperature control system, but it does not cool down more than two degrees, which is hardly noticeable at high temperatures."

Energy supply

SWB spokesman Michael Henseler says there are no concerns that the electricity and gas lines could possibly suffer from the heat. "They are so deep underground that even asphalt deformations can not affect the pipes," says Henseler. And the rails of the tracks would not be damaged in the heat, even if the asphalt softens.

City parks department deploys water trucks

Workers of the city parks department have been out and about with water trucks while other work is being postponed. In the Rheinaue Park, sprinkler systems provide irrigation. Each tree gets up to 100 liters per irrigation cycle. But the parks department says every bucket of water helps trees everywhere to survive the dry weather. Despite all the efforts, there are still many areas which have turned brown. "When the weather gets moister, the turf recovers from experience. If bare spots remain, they get seeded. Replacing the lawn is not necessary," explains Stefanie Zießnitz of the parks department.

Danger of fires

According to the city of Bonn, the general risk for fires continues to be very high, in forests, fields and other green areas. This can only be reduced by a long-lasting and widespread rain, which currently is not in sight. "We strongly advise against leaving open fires unobserved - it would be better not to light fires outdoors at all - or to deliberately throw away cigarette butts," warns Zießnitz. Cigarette butts which are not properly disposed of can be punished with a fine of 25 euros. Anyone who sees fire in a forested area, park or other green patch of land should call the fire department at 112.

Splashing in fountains or swimming in the Rhine

The city advises that water circulating in city fountains is not drinking water. And it “emphatically” discourages people from cooling off in the Rhine. Dangerous undercurrents exist and even the cool water temperature is not to be underestimated, adding up to potential danger for even experienced swimmers.

(Orig. text: Lisa Inhoffen. Translation: ck)