Jim Andrews

Share |

How Cold Europe Was in March 2013

April 1, 2013; 8:49 AM ET

Unusual cold and snow made for a memorable month of March 2013 in the UK and much of Europe.

The month as a whole was coldest in what amounts to essentially the northern half of Europe, where average monthly temperature was at least 4 to 8 degrees F below normal. In Germany, one city, Leipzig, registered a mean reading more than 10 degrees below normal.

So cold was March that it, in some spots, the month that normally ushers in spring was the coldest month of the winter season, even undercutting January.

Significant March cold also stretched over much of France, Spain and Italy to the northern Balkan region.

Exceptional falls of snow covered parts of the UK, the Low Countries, Germany, France, Austria, Poland, Hungary, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and more.

The month began innocuously enough, with near- to above-normal temperatures for the first one to two weeks. However, the weather flipped abruptly, beginning by the 10th of the month in Scandinavia to the UK, spurred by unusually strong arctic high pressure.

This first outbreak of cold helped to set up a major snowstorm over northern France, Belgium and central Germany. Snow fell locally in the UK.

Within a few days, the cold spread southward, invading the Mediterranean basin, accompanied locally by snow across Spain and Italy to the Balkan Peninsula.

A major winter storm that incubated over Italy then swept northeastward over central and eastern Europe to western and northern Russia, burying areas from Hungary to Belarus to Moscow with snow. Weather observations indicated that highest snowfall may have topped 18 inches.

Arctic cold continued to spread southward by way of Scandinavia as "official" spring began, due to strong high pressure remaining stubbornly across the north.

Within a week, another crippling snowstorm hammered Ukraine and Russia, striking Kiev especially hard. Here again, top snowfall was at least 18 inches to even 2 feet.

Even as Kiev residents were struggling to dig out, snow began to fall in much of the UK. March 23 and 24 of the month brought falls of between 6 inches and 2 feet to hilly areas of central and northern England, southern Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. High winds made it a blizzard with roads blocked by lofty drifts.

The last week of the month brought continued snow to central Europe, including 8 inches at Budapest and 5 inches at Vienna.

Even Easter Sunday, the last day of the month, brought record cold to the U.K. and significant snowfall to north-central Europe.

As the new month gets under way, the flow of arctic cold into northern Europe shows no immediate sign of breaking. From U.K. to northern Russia and from Scandinavia to the Alps, average temperature through at least the end of the week will be at least 5 to 10 degrees F below normal.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or AccuWeather.com


Comments left here should adhere to the AccuWeather.com Community Guidelines. Profanity, personal attacks, and spam will not be tolerated.

More International Weather Blog

  • Plum Rains to Shift North Next Week

    June 27, 2013; 12:28 PM ET

    The plum rains are known as "meiyu" in China, the "baiyu" or "tsuyu" in Japan, and the "jangma" in the Koreas. The heart of the plum rain season stretches from early June to mid-July, with a tendency to shift south to north across the affected area.

  • Monsoon Rains to Pick Up After a Break

    June 24, 2013; 9:30 AM ET

    In the wake of the mid-June cloudbursts, most of Pakistan to northwestern India last week saw a return to dry, hot weather typical of the weeks leading up to the Monsoon onset. It was as if the Monsoon withdrew to its "normal" position for the latter half of June.

  • Heat Wave Bakes Heart of Europe

    June 19, 2013; 8:24 AM ET

    The 38.5 degree C (101 degrees F) reading Tuesday in Ajaccio, Corsica, may have been tops in Europe.

  • Southwest Monsoon Onset Four Weeks Early

    June 16, 2013; 1:33 PM ET

    Monsoon Onset was June 13th, 2013, in Delhi, almost two weeks earlier than average. The June 15th onset at Karachi and Islamabad was more like three week ahead of schedule.

  • Indian Monsoon Surges West, Lags East

    June 13, 2013; 10:00 AM ET

    In Pakistan, hit-or-miss downpours missed the Sindh capital, Karachi. One did hit Pad Idan, where it left 60 mm of rain Wednesday. This was more than 20 times greater than the normal June rainfall.

  • What Is Happening in the Subcontinent?

    June 10, 2013; 1:09 PM ET

    It is still possible that this scenario is over wrought as to the intensity and spread of rain in Pakistan and northwestern India. However, it is the hunch of the present forecaster that some very unusual weather is going to unfold in the Subcontinent during the next week!