Unusual late snow hits northwest Europe

After a brief tease of spring-like weather, Europe was hit yesterday with cold temperatures and heavy snow. Keeping in mind that “cold” and “heavy snow” are relative terms — the storm was one of the worst of the season, not to mention among the worst in years.

Airports across the region were either closed, or had traffic reduced dramatically.  And even the trains were stopped. In Germany, there was a car crash on the autobahn involving over 100 vehicles, though fortunately nobody died during that wreck.

In Paris, we had roughly 4 inches of snow — which may not sound like much, but for Paris it’s unusual, and it’s been like this for several years now (snowing when it shouldn’t). Earlier this season, we had about twice as much snow as last night, which was also a surprise. As I mentioned before, Paris is not equipped for snow — we just never get that much (or at least we didn’t) — so any snow that sticks will cause problems.

Our patio last night.

Our patio last night.

So what’s causing this weather? For starters, the melting Arctic ice is causing the North Atlantic to warm, which is bringing a lot more precipitation to the region. That means the miserable weather of northwest Europe has gone from bad to worse with even more rain and snow because of the warming seas. As the Arctic ice melts, the situation is likely to become worse.

In addition to the warming ocean, the jet stream is unusually far south at the moment, which means that the cold northern air is dipping to the south. The BBC has a great video that shows this in more detail.

Temperatures are due to warm to above freezing today in Paris, and spring temperatures should be back on their way by the weekend. For those of us who hate winter, the crazy weather of this winter may become the new normal.

An American in Paris, France. BA in History & Political Science from Ohio State. Provided consulting services to US software startups, launching new business overseas that have both IPO’d and sold to well-known global software companies. Currently launching a new cloud-based startup. Full bio here.

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16 Responses to “Unusual late snow hits northwest Europe”

  1. evodevo says:

    Well, there also is the complication of the gush of freshwater entering the North Atlantic from melting glaciers that may interfere with the northward circulation of the Gulf Stream – that could REALLY change Europe’s climate – for the worse.

  2. silas1898 says:

    Rome is on the same latitude as NYC

  3. Thanks for the info. I just assumed that the climate was always the same on earth. I do give you props for not telling me the world is 6000 years old though. BeccaM is right – it’s never happened this fast and do you honestly think all the pollutants we dump and the trash we “throw away” and the deforestation would not have an impact?

  4. HeartlandLiberal says:

    Climatologists working with paleontologists have long predicted based on observed events from the historical climate record, that the warming of the Arctic may trigger so much fresh water runoff into the North Atlantic that is could actually break the circulation pattern of the Gulf Stream. That current brings warm water up that has flowed all the way from the South Atlantic, up past eastern North America, and surfaces in the North Atlantic. As the water cools there, the current resubmerges, then begins to work its way back south along the eastern side of the Atlantic. The Gulf Stream is of course what keeps weather in Europe moderate. Most Americans (being pretty much ignorant of geography of the rest of the world), have no clue that most of Europe sits farther north than the Great Lakes. The Scandinavian countries and major cities, if plotted on map of Canada, would be nestling all the way up to the southern part of Hudson bay on the continental shield, for Pete’s sake.

    Anyway, just as the predictions that warming will create more ocean evaporation, thus more moisture, thus in some areas more rain, and stronger storms, so the flood of fresh water, lowering saline levels, in the North Atlantic, could in fact trigger another Medieval style Little Ice Age in Europe.

    Which of course, according to the ignoramuses and the climate change denial scientists bought and paid for by the Koch Bros (Inc) clearly proves there is no anthropogenic climate change or global warming.

    So there.

  5. Paul, your post is downright *stupid*. What you are claiming, in effect, is that being rear-ended on the freeway by a semi going 60 mph is no problem because your car has gone faster than 60 mph in the past. There’s a simple concept called “rate of change”. If the Earth were to warm several degrees over the next 20,000 years or so, we’d have more time to adapt to the changes. But if the Earth were to warm several degrees over the next century or so (which is exactly what will happen with current policies), the temperature rate of change would hit us like a speeding semi — there’s just no time to adapt. Oh, and did I mention that your post is completely *stupid*? You should be embarrassed for having put it up here.

  6. PeteWa says:

    He’s an idiot, just read his posting history, it’s painfully stupid.

  7. nicho says:

    Do you get paid for this dreck — or are you just a useful idiot?

  8. nicho says:

    Pffft. Corporatist drivel.

  9. Steve_in_CNJ says:

    When you google arctic temperatures, you find many results for latitudes north of 70 deg or north of 80 deg. But the biggest changes, at least in winter and spring when the high Arctic is ice covered, are in the sub-polar latitudes south of 70 deg. For example: http://thinkprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/north-latitudes-surface-temp-trend-annual-thru2011.gif

    It’s been extremely warm even north of 80 deg this winter. http://ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/meant80n.uk.php

    Ice volume, as opposed to ice extent, has been crashing in all seasons since the 1980s. http://psc.apl.washington.edu/wordpress/research/projects/arctic-sea-ice-volume-anomaly/

  10. BeccaM says:

    Except the change has never been as fast as now, except when the planet was hit by an asteroid or experienced a super-volcano eruption.

    Normally, species have thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of years to adapt to the changes. What’s happening now is drastic change happening in a matter of just a few decades as we’ve clearly crossed a critical tipping point — and continue to dump more and more CO2 and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

  11. I agree it’s weather and not climate and a late winter snow storm is not unusual.. But alarmists want to have their cake and eat it to. When something happens that supports their agenda, they want to count it. When it doesn’t they want to dismiss it as just “weather.”

  12. Jim, I have news for you. Our planet is 4.5 billion years old. Climate change has been happening for 4.5 billion years. It will be happening for the next 4.5 billion years. I don’t know what “overall trend” you’re thinking about but there is nothing that is happening with our weather that hasn’t happened many times before.

  13. astroworf says:

    Winter is coming!

  14. Drew2u says:

    in Germany, hundreds of cranes (I think) tried to fly through it and were killed.

  15. Every strange weather pattern may or may not be an indication of climate change, but it should be treated as one. There have been snowstorms in April. Rare but they have occurred. Again, we have to look at the overall trend and this seems to fit it.

  16. cole3244 says:

    just another talking point for the global warming opponents dressed up as a snow storm.

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