The European winter that is now — all too belatedly — being eclipsed by spring has seemed painfully long.
Living in Germany, we follow what’s happening close to home. In some parts of eastern Germany, the first substantial snowfalls were in November. Some communities in Saxony still have over 40 cm of snow on the ground and have now recorded snow cover for over 120 days this winter.
Curiously, it has not been exceptionally cold. Across much of Europe, March was chilly by the standards of the average March, but it broke very few records for absolute minima. And a biting north-east wind made some areas feel much colder than the thermometer suggested.
The areas where citizens and their media make much fuss about cold weather tend not to be those which experience great extremes. True, there have been cold days this winter, but not so many as the media in some countries might suggest.
Our table below shows the number of days this winter in which the temperature failed to climb even to freezing. Put another way, it shows the number of days in which a harsh frost persisted all day.
In most cases, the readings relate to airport locations rather than to city centres. Thus the London readings show data from Heathrow Airport, those for Berne are derived from the meteorological records for Belp Airport, those for Berlin come from Schönefeld Airport. These airport locations tend to lie on the outskirts of cities, and are often a shade colder than city centres.
|Number of days with all-day frost (viz. maximum temp below freezing) over the period 15 Nov 2012 to 31 March 2013|
Text by Nicky Gardner and Susanne Kries