DISCUSSION: Northern Europe was hit with bitter cold this past week and even snow was observed in the higher elevations across Sweden. Pictures and videos posted to Facebook have captured the heavy wet snow falling across many ski resorts throughout the country. For many ski resorts, this is the first snowfall of the season, which occurred earlier than normal. The first major snowfall typically occurs by late September, making this event nearly 2 months earlier than usual. Residents of the country were thrilled with the snowfall due to this being the time at which ski resorts begin preparing for the upcoming season. On top of the snowfall, cold air filtered down from the Arctic, shattering temperature records across the country. Ljungskile, a city in Western Sweden, dropped to 8.6°C (47°F) which broke a 100-year old record for the coldest day in August. This temperature was colder than that observed last Christmas Eve. Many residents were seen walking around with their winter jackets, an unusual sight for mid-August.
Sweden typically has a much milder climate than other countries at the same latitude due to the influences from the Gulf Stream which pumps warm/moist air into the region throughout the year. July is typically Sweden’s hottest month when temperatures approach 17°C (approximately 62°F). July is also the time when Northern Sweden experiences continuous daylight for several weeks, while Southern Sweden has daylight for nearly 20 hours each day during this same period of time. February is Sweden’s coldest month when temperatures drop to dangerous levels, with temperatures getting as low as -22°C (nearly -8°F). Snowfall generally covers the ground from December to April across the majority of the country, with the northern parts experiencing regular snowfall beginning in October. Just as continuous daylight occurs during the summer, the winter is usually defined by the sun failing to rise above the horizon for about 2 months across Northern Sweden. Meanwhile, places across Southern Sweden only see about 5 hours of daylight during this same period of time. Fall tends to be the wettest season for Sweden, while Spring is usually the driest season. However, the country receives ample precipitation throughout the year whether it is in the form of rain or various types of frozen precipitation.
Sweden was not alone during this brief cold spell, as records were broken across parts of Germany. In Carlsfeld, Saxony (a German state), the temperature tumbled to 1.3°C breaking the previously coldest day in August since records began in 1990. Frost was reported in several mountainous regions across the country early Thursday morning. In addition, it was a year ago this past week when Germany and other countries across Europe were sweltering from record-setting heat.
Local weather forecasters anticipate that the cold temperatures will not last. By the end of the weekend, temperatures were already beginning to moderate across the region. To learn more about other high-impact weather events from across Europe, be sure to click here!