Record Weather on Royal Wedding Day in the Netherlands, 2nd February 2002

February 2nd 2002 was the wedding day of the Dutch Crown Prince Willem-Alexander and his Argentinean bride Maxima. The wedding came during a period of frequent spells of wet and windy weather, but as luck would have it conditions turned out really rather nice for the wedding day! The sun did the business and shone all day, temperatures were springlike and whilst it was a little on the breezy side, even the wind played ball and gradually decreased as the day wore on.

Weatherwise the most spectacular thing about the wedding day weather was the temperature; an exceptionally mild night gave way to a very mild day with temperatures in a few spots getting close to 18C! Now without further ado here’s a more detailed look at temperatures on 2nd February.

Minimum Temperatures
The night of the 1st/2nd February was extremely mild. At 0200 (local time) temperatures nationwide were still in double figures and only after 0300 did the mercury in few places finally begin to drop under 10C.

The south-east of the country had the coolest overnight conditions. Here temperatures dipped to around 9C. Ell (near Weert) was coldest at 8.3C, followed by Beek (near Maastricht) was second coldest at 8.7C. Meanwhile, in Gilze Rijen (near Breda) temperatures continued falling during the first half of the morning and at 0900 it was 7.3C, a little colder than it was at dawn! Elsewhere, mininma were between 9 and 11C with Valkenburg (near Leiden) seeing the mildest night with a low of just 10.9C.

Needless to say with it being such a mild night a few temperature records were broken. Den Helder in the north-western Netherlands was probably the most spectacular record breaker. Here the overnight low dropped to just 10.3C which is the highest minimum temperature recorded on the 2nd February (previous record 7.7C in 1923). This was also both the highest minimum temperature recorded in the first 10 days of February (previous record 8.6C on the 7th in 1990) and in the whole month of February (previous record 9.7C on the 20th in 1990).

In the middle of the country De Bilt (near Utrecht) recorded a minimum temperature of 9.9C which is the highest minimum temperature recorded on the 2nd February (previous record 8.8C in 1967) and in the first 10 days of February (previous record 11.8C on the 20th in 1990).

In Vlissingen in the south-western Netherlands it was a similar situation. Here the overnight low of 9.4C was the highest minimum temperature recorded on the 2nd February (previous record 9.0C in 1923) as well the highest 'low' recorded during first 10 days of February (previous record also 9.0C on the 2nd in 1923. This was also the third warmest February night on record - the record's 10.2C on the 20th in 1990.

Similarly, Eelde in the north-east of the country very close to Groningen recorded both it’s highest minimum temperature for 2nd February and the first 10 days of the month (previous record 8.4 on the 2nd in 1990). The overnight ‘low’ was 10.8C. This was also very close to being the mildest February night on record - only February 20th 1990 at 11.6C was milder.

Maxima (temperatures, not the Princess!)
Figure One: Daytime highs on February 2nd 2002. Source: The KNMI.

Daytime temperatures as we’ve already noted were exceptionally mild. Most places were between 14 and 16C (see figure one on the left), well above the seasonal norm of 5 or 6C, and in the south-eastern province of Limburg temperatures were close to 18C. Some coastal areas and the Wadden Island weren’t quite as mild though; temperatures here reached 11-13C.

The south-eastern Netherlands were the warmest part of the country. Here the highest official readings were 17,2 in Beek en 17,4 in Arcen whilst a weather amateur in Limbricht recorded a high of 18.3C. These high temperatures weren't quite record breakers though; a high of 17.6C in Epen on 9th February 1989 remains the highest temperature recorded in the first 10 days of February, whilst the national record February high is 20.4C, recorded in Oost Maarland on February 20th 1990. Meanwhile, the Wadden Islands just to the north of the Dutch mainland were the least mild parts of the country. Here, Terschelling-Hoorn recorded the country's lowest maximum temperature on the 2nd when the mercury hit 'just' 11.1C.

Nationally February 2nd 2002 wasn't a record breaker then, but it wasn't too far off! However, De Bilt, De Kooy, Eelde, Beek and Vlissingen all recorded their warmest February 2nds on record. Beek recorded 17.2C (previous record 12.7C in 1966), De Bilt 15.5C (previous record 12.5C in 1926), Eelde 14.8C (previous record 10.7C in 1948), De Kooy 14.3C (previous record 9.9C in 1975) and Vlissingen 12.8C (previous record 10.3C in 1975). In De Kooy, Eelde and Vlissingen these old records were first exceeded with the first weather observations of the day - in other words, here during the early hours temperatures were already higher than the previous daytime high recorded on this day at these 3 places. In fact, in De Kooy temperatures stayed above the old record February 2nd high until 2300, almost all day in other words. A similar thing happened at Eelde were for only for a short while in the morning temperatures were under the previous February 2nd record high! Meanwhile, Beek and De Bilt had to wait until the late morning for temperatures to exceed their previous February 2nd record high.

Also, the maximum temperatures recorded in De Bilt, De Kooy and Eelde were also the highest maximum temperatures on record during the first 10 days of February. The previous records were 14.7C (on the 7th in 1990), 12.8C (on the 4th in 1957) and 14.4C (also on the 7th in 1990) respectively.

Finally, quickly attempting to put some sort of return period on these temperatures, data at Weeronline shows that during the last two or three years maximum temperatures in February didn't come close to 15C, whilst in 1998 there were a few February days with highs close to or just above 15C and this occured once in 1997. It's not a very long sample of data I know, but it suggests that a high of 15C in February will occur every couple of years or so.

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Dan Suri, 5 February 2002