Europe, frozen: The snowiest winter in more than a decade is here, will the same happen in Spain?

An intrusion of polar air has caused widespread snowfall across 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. In some countries, temperatures have reached cold records, which has been unusual in recent years.

In countries like Austria there is more than a meter of snow and the snowfall in Munich (Germany) was particularly noticeable. On December 2nd, a 50 cm thick blanket of snow woke up over the city, which resulted in the closure of the airport and the suspension of train services. This is the heaviest snowfall recorded in one month of December in Munich, with data available since 1954.

On November 29th, the mercury temperature at Copenhagen Airport fell to -7.7°C. It is the lowest temperature recorded in November in 104 years. In recent years, setting records for low temperatures has become significantly less common.

On the other hand, a cold wave in Siberia is causing temperatures to fall below freezing Russia with anomalies of up to -10 ºC compared to normal values. Recently, temperatures as low as -57.8 °C were recorded in Iema, -54.9 °C in Ojmjakon and -54.5 °C in Agayakan. The extreme cold could worsen in the coming days due to a new arctic outbreak.

Although it is claimed that this episode contradicts man-made global warming, the reality is quite different. On an increasingly hotter planet Heavy snow or severe cold may still occur due to changes in atmospheric circulation, even related to climate change.

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What you need to pay attention to is the ratio between warm and cold records. In Spain, for example, 37 days have been broken with a heat record and 0 days with a cold record so far this year. In a climate without human intervention, it would be normal to have five record-breaking warm days and five 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 could continue to occur less frequently. An increase in global temperature leads to warmer seas and oceans and greater availability of water vapor in the atmosphere. This fuel causes torrential snowfalls like in Munich.

Spain has stayed away from the extreme cold and abundant snowfall, except for the mid-altitude areas of the Pyrenees. This is due to the influence of an air mass of subtropical origin. The peninsula is now influenced by a zonal circulation, which means that Atlantic storms easily reach our latitudes. These storms bring warm and humid westerly winds with long sea routes.

We are also under the influence of an atmospheric river, a kind of conveyor belt of moisture from tropical or subtropical latitudes. This atmospheric river could increase rainfall However, over the next few days temperatures will rise from Thursday. Therefore, it will not be the snow that will be the news, but the rain.

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