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Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Never since 1961 so little snow during the Christmas holidays

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“On average, only 35 percent of Austria’s area was covered with snow during the past Christmas holidays,” said Marc Olefs, head of the Climate Impact Research department at Geosphere Austria (formerly ZAMG).

According to the experts, the reason is a combination of natural fluctuations and long-term global warming. “During the Christmas holidays, from December 24th to January 8th, 2023, so little of Austria was covered with snow as never before in this period since 1961,” stated Olefs. “For comparison: On average over the last three decades, 70 percent of Austria’s area was white during the Christmas holidays. The snow cover during the Christmas holidays was similarly low as this year only in 1987/88 with 39 percent snow cover and in 2013/14 with 40 percent.”

More rain than snow

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“Winters have become warmer in recent decades, which is why rain falls more often than snow, especially at low altitudes,” explained climate expert Olefs. “But you have to keep in mind that the winters in the Alps also bring very strong natural fluctuations, from year to year and over several years to decades. Therefore, even in times of long-term global warming, short-term phases with a lot of snow are still possible. Observe the other extreme Wir Heuer: When the effects of progressive global warming and a natural phase with less snow come together, the snow situation during the Christmas holidays is so low that we have not experienced it in the last 60 years.”

The SNOWGRID-CL model was developed at Geosphere Austria for area evaluations of the snow situation. Among other things, very precise terrain data is combined with snow, precipitation and moisture measurements from several hundred weather stations as well as the laws of snow physics. Data such as snow depth, structure and breakdown of snow cover, snow water value and average snow temperature are calculated for the whole of Austria with a spatial resolution of one by one kilometer. This results in a total of 84,000 data points in Austria. Data is available for all days going back to 1961.

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According to the meteorologists, the lack of snow should be over in the coming days: the next few days will bring fresh snow on the mountains of Austria and partly also in the lowlands. For the time being, however, the weather from the west will be quite changeable with a strongly fluctuating snow line, according to Geosphere Austria.

  • The current snow values ​​are freely available here together with other weather data.

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Source: Nachrichten

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