An entry of polar air has caused widespread snowfall in the Old Continent. It is estimated that 60% of Europe is covered in snow, an event that has not occurred at this time of year since 2010. Temperatures have reached cold records in some countries, an unusual occurrence in recent years.
In countries like Austria there is more than a meter of accumulated snow and especially striking was the snowfall in Munich (Germany). On December 2, the city woke up to a blanket of 50 cm of snow, forcing the airport to close and train services to be cancelled. This is the heaviest snowfall recorded in a month of December in Munich, with data since 1954.
On November 29, the mercury dropped to -7.7 ºC at Copenhagen airport. It is the lowest temperature recorded in the month of November in the last 104 years. In recent years, setting records for low temperatures has become much less common.
On the other hand, uA cold wave in Siberia is leaving freezing temperatures in Russia with anomalies of up to -10 ºC compared to normal values. Recently, up to -57.8 ºC was recorded in Iema, -54.9 ºC in Ojmjakon and -54.5 ºC in Agayakan. The extreme cold could get worse in the coming days due to a new arctic irruption.
Although it has been claimed that this episode contradicts human-caused global warming, the reality is very different. On an increasingly hot planet, heavy snowfall or intense cold may continue to occur due to changes in atmospheric circulation, even associated with climate change.
What you have to pay attention to is the proportion between warm and cold records. In Spain, for example, 37 days of warm record and 0 cold record have been broken so far this year. In a climate without human intervention, it would be normal to have 5 record warm days and 5 cold days.
A warming climate means an increase in the number of warm records and heat waves, but episodes of heavy snowfall and cold records may continue to occur less frequently. An increase in global temperature means warmer seas and oceans and greater availability of water vapor in the atmosphere. This fuel powers torrential snowfalls like the one recorded in Munich.
Spain has stayed away from the extreme cold and copious snowfall, except for the medium-high levels of the Pyrenees. This is due to the influence of an air mass of subtropical origin. The Peninsula is influenced these days by a zonal circulation which means that Atlantic storms reach our latitudes easily. These storms bring with them warm and humid westerly winds, with long maritime travel.
We are also under the influence of an atmospheric river, that is, a kind of conveyor belt of humidity from tropical or subtropical latitudes. This atmospheric river could enhance precipitation in the next few days but temperatures will rise starting Thursday. The snow will not be the news therefore, but the rains.