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As 2022 turned into 2023, an exceptionally strong winter heat dome swept across much of Europe, generating unprecedented warmth for January. As temperatures soared 18 to 36 degrees Fahrenheit (10 to 20 degrees Celsius) above normal from France to western Russia, thousands of records were broken between Saturday and Monday – many by wide margins.
The extreme hot spell followed a record warm year in many parts of Europe and provided another example of how human-caused climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of such exceptional weather events.
On New Year’s Day, at least seven countries experienced their warmest January weather on record as temperatures soared to spring levels: Latvia hit 52 degrees (11.1 degrees Celsius); Denmark 54.7 degrees (12.6 degrees Celsius); Lithuania 58.3 degrees (14.6 degrees Celsius); Belarus 61.5 degrees (16.4 degrees Celsius); the Netherlands 62.4 degrees (16.9 degrees Celsius); Poland 66.2 degrees (19.0 degrees Celsius); and Czech Republic 67.3 degrees (19.6 degrees Celsius).
Those who follow worldwide weather records called the warm period historic and could hardly believe its magnitude and extent.
Maximiliano Herrera, a climatologist who tracks global weather extremes, described the event as “completely insane” and “utter madness” in text messages to the Capital Weather Gang. He wrote that some of the high nighttime temperatures observed were unusual in midsummer.
It is “the most extreme event ever observed in European climatology,” Herrera wrote. “Nothing comes close.”
Guillaume Séchet, a radio meteorologist in France, agreed tweet This Sunday was one of the most incredible days in European climate history.
“The intensity and scale of the heat in Europe is difficult to grasp at this time,” tweeted Scott Duncan, meteorologist from London.
One of the most severe winter heatwaves in modern European history visualized over the past 2 days. Hundreds of monthly heat records have been broken across the continent. This is precisely the type of very abnormal event that is increasingly defining global climatology. pic.twitter.com/Nb8ImytqYC
— Nahel Belgherze (@WxNB_) January 1, 2023
Here are some of the most impressive records set on New Year’s Day in Europe:
- It was so warm in Poland that the January national high temperature record was broken before sunrise. The city of Glutolazy was 65.7 degrees at 4 a.m., which is warmer than the average mid-summer low. Temperatures continued to rise throughout the day.
- Bilbao, Spain, reached 77.2 degrees (25.1 degrees Celsius), its hottest January day.
- Trois-Ville, France, reached 76.8 degrees (24.9 degrees Celsius), a record for the month. It was among more than 100 records set on sunday across the country, including 75.2 degrees (24.0 degrees Celsius) at Dax and 65.5 degrees (18.6 degrees Celsius) at stations with 19th-century data at Besançon and Châteauroux.
- Ohlsbach, Germany, set a monthly record of 66.9 degrees (19.4 degrees Celsius) and the highest daily temperature in Germany. Other locations, including Berlin at 60.8 degrees (16 degrees Celsius), are also setting January records. Berlin was one of the places that went under records both New Year’s Eve and New Year’s.
- Warsaw’s high of 66.2 degrees (19 degrees Celsius) destroyed the his previous January record by 9.2 degrees (5.1 Celsius).
While the most extreme temperatures occurred on New Year’s Day, exceptionally mild weather set in on New Year’s Eve.
Numerous calendar day and monthly records fell on Saturday and in many cases surpassed the records set just a year earlier.
The Weather Service of the Czech Republic tweeted that the country celebrated its warmest New Year’s Eve on record. Prague, with 247 years of measurementsa new monthly high of 63.9 degrees (17.7 Celsius).
Here are some of the more significant temperature records set on Saturday:
- France saw impressive record highs such as a high of 76.6 degrees (24.8 degrees Celsius) in Verdun. That country as a whole experienced its warmest New Year’s Eve.
- Six out of nine states in mountainous Austria they experienced their warmest December 31 on record. In Aspach it was up to 64.9 degrees (18.3 degrees Celsius).
- Luxembourg set a December record for the country with 64.0 degrees (17.8 degrees Celsius). in Wormeldange. Belgium hit a record high of 63.5 degrees (17.5 degrees Celsius) in December in Diepenbeek.
- Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler has defeated Germany highest December minimum as it only plummeted to 59.5 degrees (15.3 Celsius).
Monday was the third day of widespread high temperatures previously unheard of in midwinter. Many other monthly and daily records were set in the eastern half of Europe, notably in Germany, Hungary, Romania and Russia.
By Tuesday, the places with the above-average temperatures are likely to shift towards Ukraine. After that, the heat should subside a bit.
It is currently 8.5°C / 47°F at the Chamrousse ski resort outside of Grenoble, France. Almost no snow in the 1800m village and open terrain along the 2250m ski slopes. Grenoble valley itself 19-20 C / 66-68 C under a blow dryer. Webcam images from https://t.co/pKN4KRBnJB pic.twitter.com/YCGrIxoCtw
— Pete D Akers (@PeteScientist) January 1, 2023
Extreme heat hit Europe in waves year-round, compounded by a historically severe summer drought. The combination helped bring the UK to 104 degrees (40 degrees Celsius) in July for the first time on record.
The science of heat domes and how drought and climate change are making them worse
Even if the heat in Europe is slowly fading Arctic air flows in from the northeastabove average temperatures are forecast for much of the mainland region through at least January 10th. After that, the prediction is a little less clear, but a cooler pattern could emerge by mid-month.