What happened to Sweden’s winter?

What happened to Sweden's winter?
Lush green lawns with no trace of snow, chanterelles sprouting and spring flowers in bloom: winter in Sweden is beginning to look a lot less like, well, winter, meteorologists said on Wednesday.

“The month of January has been very mild so far,” meteorologist Weine Josefsson at the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI) told AFP.

With the mild temperatures, spring flowers such as cowslips and wood anemones have already started to bloom in the west of the country, while mushroom lovers are delighted to find chanterelles in the forests in the south.

“It’s very surprising that chanterelles have already started growing,” said Lars-Åke Janzon, a biologist at the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, adding that he had “never seen that before”.

In Stockholm, where the weather has been primarily grey and wet without the slightest trace of snow, the average temperature during the first two weeks of January was 1.7 degrees Celsius, compared to minus 2.8 degrees on average during the period 1960-1990, according to SMHI.

“The biggest seasonal variations have been observed in Norrland (in the north), where the mercury has registered temperatures above zero on several occasions,” Josefsson said.

According to SMHI’s statistics, the average temperature in Norrland for the month of January during 1960-1990 was minus 15.9 degrees, compared to minus 3.7 for the first two weeks of January this year.

Josefsson said the month of January had in recent years been “milder than usual”, the result of “a change in the climate” in Sweden.