Europe’s hottest year ever: The Netherlands’ 2020 weather records

Europe’s hottest year ever: The Netherlands’ 2020 weather records

The preliminary annual report published by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) states that 2020 is set to be one of the hottest years ever, and that Europe is on track for its hottest year ever. 

A hot year in Europe - and around the world

According to the WMO, the global average temperature this year is about 1,2 degrees above pre-industrial level (1850-1900), with this year currently on track to be one of the three hottest years ever recorded. They also announced that 2011 to 2020 was set to be the hottest decade on record.

Europe wasn’t alone in experiencing unprecedented temperatures - parts of South and Central America and the Southwestern United States also experienced exceptionally warm weather. Plus, it’s looking like it’s only going to get hotter. According to the WMO, there is at least a 20 percent chance that the global average temperature will be 1,5 degrees higher by 2024. 

What about here in the Netherlands? Well, many people may have had to cancel summer holidays because of coronavirus, but temperatures at home were more than high enough - so warm, in fact, that 2020 is the joint hottest year ever recorded in the Netherlands. The average yearly temperature in De Bilt - a town near Utrecht and home to the Dutch weather institute (KNMI) - is set to be 11,7 degrees, over a degree higher than the average annual temperature from the past 30 years (10,6 degrees).

2020: Breaking Dutch weather records

The Netherlands experienced record-breaking temperatures and weather conditions all year. From April 1 to November 19, the country experienced 233 consecutive days of temperatures above 10 degrees, beating the 2011 record of 228 days.

Now, as 2021 approaches, the record from 2002 when temperatures of at least 10 degrees were reached on 285 days has been broken in 2020. The year has also been exceptionally dry; in spite of February being the wettest ever recorded, the Netherlands experienced around 695 millimetres of rain this year, significantly less than the yearly average of 847 millimetres.

A mild winter and a sunny spring 

Back in the early winter months of 2020, the average temperature of 6,4 degrees was almost double the normal average, and made for an extremely mild winter - the mildest since records began in 1901. Heading into March and April, the Netherlands enjoyed the sunniest spring on record, with a total of 805 hours of sunshine recorded. The average is only 517 hours. All in all, the year is also one of the sunniest ever recorded in the Netherlands.

Unusually warm summer and autumn

Who could forget the unprecedented heatwave that engulfed the Netherlands over the summer? For five days in a row in August (August 7 to August 11), temperatures above 35 degrees were recorded in De Bilt - this had never happened before. Another first: an official national heatwave lasted for a total of 13 days (August 5 to August 17), and in the southern-most parts of the country, the heatwave stretched on for 18 days in total (until August 23). 

Heading into the autumn, the Netherlands also experienced a number of tropical days: on September 15, the KNMI recorded 30,2 degrees in De Bilt. Never before has such a high temperature been recorded so late in the year. Then again, in November a number of records were broken, with temperatures as high as 20 degrees on November 2

Who knows what 2021 holds

2021 is shrowded in mystery and uncertainty for a number of reasons, but who knows what the new year will hold weather-wise. We'll all just have to wait and see!

Victoria Séveno


Victoria Séveno

Victoria grew up in Amsterdam, before moving to the UK to study English and Related Literature at the University of York and completing her NCTJ course at the Press Association...

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mokumhammer 10:55 | 26 December 2020

The hottest year - ON RECORD!