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‘Winter that never arrived’ nears end for Nordic countries

Northern European countries known for skiing and other snowy pursuits are poised to record one of the warmest winters ever after weeks of unseasonably high temperatures.

'Winter that never arrived' nears end for Nordic countries
Flooded fields in Himmerland, Denmark, on February 26th. Photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

In Sweden's capital Stockholm, cherry trees bloomed in January as much of the country recorded temperatures six to seven degrees Celsius higher than normal since December.

“It is the warmest winter in recorded history in southern and central Sweden,” the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI) said in a statement to AFP.

Sweden's neighbours Norway, Denmark and Finland have also seen high temperatures.

Some companies have practically given away ski suits, bonnets and other winter attire well before the season ends.

In Uppsala, about 70 kilometres north of Stockholm, this is the warmest winter since 1722, or nearly 300 years.

Across the border in Finland, more than half of the country recorded the mildest January ever. Temperatures were seven to eight degrees higher than average, the country's meteorological institute said.

Norway experienced its mildest winter since record keeping began in 1900. Temperatures exceeded the seasonal norm by 4.5 degrees.

The same goes for Denmark, the southernmost country in the region. Winter, which officially ended on the last day of February, saw temperatures that were five degrees above normal.

“If this winter remains etched in the collective memory, it will be as the winter which never arrived,” said Mikael Scharling, of the Danish Meteorological Institute.

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Unusual in places that are wild about winter sports, capitals like Oslo, Stockholm and Helsinki saw little to no snow in January.

“We have just experienced the first Jan-Feb period on record without any measurable snow in Helsinki,” said Mika Rantanen, of the Finnish Meteorological Institute.

“I think that is quite extraordinary,” Rantanen said.

A figurehead in the campaign against climate change, Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg has taken to Twitter to voice her concerns.

“Stockholm just experienced its warmest winter ever recorded (since measures began 1756),” Thunberg tweeted.

It has also been one of the wettest winters across northern Europe.

Seventy percent more precipitation than normal hit Norway, according to theNorwegian Meteorological Institute.

Sweden has also suffered.

“The worst flooding is in the southwest parts of Sweden, where a lot of farm land… is soaked in water,” said Ulf Wallin, spokesman for Sweden's agriculture federation LRF.

“For many farmers the autumn sowing of winter wheat has been destroyed,”Wallin said.

“The warm winter can leach the soil and we even have seen plants begin to bloom that we never seen so early before.”

If the situation improves, the LRF expects to see normal crop yields for 2020 but still lower than those in 2019.

In Denmark, floods today threaten nearly half a million buildings across the country and much farmland but exact figures have yet to be tallied.

 

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WEATHER

So did Sweden beat its all-time temperature record on Thursday? Not quite

Sweden on Thursday came close to beating its 75-year-old temperature record, but fell short by just under one degree with a top temperature of 37.2C.

So did Sweden beat its all-time temperature record on Thursday? Not quite

The village of Målilla in Småland came close to beating the 38C heat record it set in 1947, logging a temperature of 37.2C. 

“It’s the highest temperature recorded in Sweden since 1947,” Mattias Lind, a meteorologist at Sweden’s state forecaster SMHI, told the country’s TT newswire. 

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As the punishing heat seen across the rest of Europe briefly rose up to touch Sweden, several cities beat their own records, with Linköping setting a new record with a 36.9C temperature. The city of Jönköping, with 35.3C, recorded the highest temperature since records began in 1858. 

Even the north of Sweden saw the mercury rise above 30C, with Gävle recording a temperature of 33.5C.

Temperatures are forecast to drop significantly on Friday, sinking below 20C across the country on Saturday, with thunder storms expected in many areas. 

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