Heatwave in Germany: Temperatures up to 38C expected at the weekend

Plenty of sunshine and temperatures stretching far above the 30C mark: summer in Germany is making a shining appearance at the weekend.

Heatwave in Germany: Temperatures up to 38C expected at the weekend
The sun was already shining strongly at this meadow in Hamburg on Friday morning. Photo: DPA

On Friday, the mercury in many parts of the country was set to climb to between 30 and 36C, the German Weather Service (DWD) announced in the morning.

Only south of the Danube river and on the coasts, the Hitze (heat) will not be quite as strong, with temperatures of 27 to 30 degrees expected.

READ ALSO: Is it ever legally too hot to go to work or school in Germany?

The sunny weather will stretch into the weekend, with only low mountain ranges expecting short rain showers.

On Saturday, temperatures are slated to reach between 30 and 37C, with a slightly cooler outlook on Germany’s islands in the north, and in the mountains in Bavaria and the south. Those in the east and northeast parts of the country will receive a bit of relief with windier weather. 

On Sunday, temperatures around the country are predicted to range between 30-36C. In the west and southwest, they are set to stretch as high as 38C in the west, particularly in areas along the Rhine River.

Stormy weather is possible in the morning in the eastern parts of the country, as well as in the lower mountain ranges and Alps. 

In Berlin, where all swimming pools had already sold out by Thursday, temperatures were expected to reach 36C on Saturday and 32C on Sunday. Munich was set to be much cooler, with temperatures of 29C on both Saturday and Sunday.

The western parts of the country were to be hit particularly hard: Cologne was slated to see temperatures of 37C on both Saturday and Sunday. In Frankfurt the Mercury would rise to 36C on both weekend days.

A sunflower in Berlin's Tiergarten being watered on Friday morning. Photo: DPA

DWD tweeted in their latest weather report that the “heat is coming and staying.”

Summer travellers

Rail operator Deutsche Bahn is preparing for more passengers over the warm weekend, as summer holidays were coming to a close for several states on Friday.

The state-owned company on Friday said it was working to prevent problems with air conditioning systems in long-distance trains – especially during heat spells and in the middle of the coronavirus crisis.

READ ALSO: Is it safe to go swimming in Germany this summer?

The number of ICE 4 trains with “particularly powerful air-conditioning systems” has now doubled to 49 compared to the summer of 2019. 

“The new double-decker IC trains also have air-conditioning systems designed for outside temperatures of over 40C,” a spokesman said.

Member comments

  1. Well, at least you guys have low humidity so the heat is a bit more tolerable, unlike in Texas where we not only have triple-digit temperatures to contend with, but on average 90%+ humidity too, which makes the heat that much more worse. This is a great time to get out and plant something though.

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Reader question: Is it ever too hot to work from home in Germany?

Germany has regulations on working during a heatwave - but does that also apply to people who work remotely? We take a look.

Reader question: Is it ever too hot to work from home in Germany?

The number of people working from home shot up during the Covid pandemic, and though employees no longer have the right to work remotely by law, many have chosen to stick with more flexible arrangements and set up a home office at least part of the week.

This is great news for people who enjoy a lie-in more than a long commute, but there are some downsides. One major issue is that it’s not always clear how Germany’s strict employee protection rules actually apply in a home setting. The rules for working during a heatwave are a good example of this.

How does Germany regulate working in extreme heat? 

By law in Germany, employers are responsible for creating a safe environment for their workers. This means that they should try and keep the temperature below 26C at all times and are legally obliged to take action if the temperature goes above 30C. 

That could include putting blinds on the windows to prevent the glare of the sun, installing air conditioning systems or purchasing fans. In some cases – such as outdoor manual labour – it could also involve starting and finishing earlier in the day. 

And in really high temperatures, employers may simply decide to call the whole thing off and give their employees a ‘hitzefrei’ day – basically a heat-induced day off – to go and cool down in a lake. However, business owners are generally given free rein to decide how hot is too hot in this instance (except in the case of vulnerable workers). 

READ ALSO: Hitzefrei: Is it ever legally too hot to go to work or school in Germany?

Do the heat rules apply to ‘home office?’

Unfortunately not. In most cases in Germany, the company isn’t directly involved in setting up the workspace for an employee that works from home, aside from possibly providing a laptop or phone for remote use. 

“The occupational health and safety regulations regarding room temperature do not apply in this case,” labour law expert Meike Brecklinghaus told German business publication T3N. “This is because the employer does not have direct access to the employee’s workplace and in this respect cannot take remedial action.”

That means that on hot days, it’s the employee’s own responsibility to make sure the environment is suitable for working in. 

woman works from home in Germany

A woman works in her living room at home. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Daniel Naupold

One duty employers do have, however, is to instruct their workers about the best way to set up a healthy work environment at home, for example by giving guidance on how to regulate the temperature. 

“In the end, it is the employee’s responsibility to maintain his or her workplace in a condition in which he or she can perform his or her work without the threat of health impairments,” Brecklinghaus explained.

What can home office workers do in hot weather?

There are plenty of ways to keep flats cooler in the summer months, including purchasing your own fan, keeping curtains or blinds drawn and ventilating the rooms in the evening or early morning when the weather is cooler.

However, if heat is really becoming a problem, it’s a good idea to communicate this to your employer. This is especially important if you have a health condition that makes it more dangerous to work in hot weather. 

In some cases, you might be able to negotiate for the employer to pay for the purchase of a fan or mobile air conditioner as goodwill gesture. If possible, you could also arrange to travel to the office where the temperature should be better regulated.

Another option for early birds or night owls is to arrange more flexible working hours so you can avoid sweltering at your desk in the midday sun, although this of course depends on operational factors. 

READ ASO: Jobs in Germany: Should foreign workers join a union?