Although last year’s winter season was uncommonly warm and snowless, large parts of Europe are commencing the 2023-2024 winter season with an abundance of snow and cold.
In Munich, Germany experienced a December record of nearly a foot and a half of snow due to a storm over the weekend. This is a stark contrast from last March, making it the city’s largest snowstorm since then and among the biggest of any month on record.
Cities across Germany and the rest of Europe are also blanketed in snow, with more snow on the way, particularly from the Alps northward through Germany and into portions of Eastern Europe. Fresh flakes of snow are causing new rounds of airport delays in various parts of Europe, leading to hundreds of canceled flights and temporary shutdowns.
Roads and utilities have also been affected by the snow, with some places in England experiencing up to a foot of snow, leading to stranded vehicles and power outages.
Satellite imagery and ground observations reveal a remarkable snowfall extent over Europe, with the Alps seeing above-average snowfall amounts, approaching record highs for the time of year.
Notably, the extensive snowfall in Europe has resulted in the overall snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere running near to above average for the last eight weeks, as reported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Russia, including Siberia, has also experienced extreme cold and snow in recent days.
This severe winter weather in Europe is connected to the negative phase of the Arctic Oscillation (AO), allowing frigid air from near the North Pole to move southward, and may be harbinger of severe winter weather in North America later in the season. The outlook predicts a slight relief from the extreme weather, but more incursions of cold and snow are probable. Despite the ongoing severe winter weather in Europe, most of the remaining parts of the planet continue to experience much warmer-than-normal conditions, confirming that the year 2023 is Earth’s hottest in human history.