What is a winter in Europe?

A brief comparison between the early January 1940 and 2019

 Posting: January 10, 2019

Our previous posting was about the question: “Is there another ‘Beast from the East’? The Met-Office considered it as possibility on January 03. More than a week later there is none, even though some places in Russia are currently cold but in no way exceptional. At some places the temperature will be about 7°C below average. Small regions in Central Europe (Bavaria and Austria) have been trapped in snow, but although the air temperature conditions across Europe are far off wintry.

In the following compare a report on weather in the current week  (italic green) and early January 1940, which until now are ignored, although from 11-21 January five all-time records occurred- See Figure 1.

A current weather report for the second week of 2019 reads as follows (Excerpt from weather.com, Jan.09):

Deadly winter weather has blasted Europe for another day, trapping hundreds of people in Alpine regions, whipping up high winds that caused flight delays and cancellations and raising the risks of more deadly avalanches.
Temperatures will fall widely across Europe over the next few days before rising again at the end of the week.
Colder air will be in circulation on Wednesday and Thursday in a northerly to north-easterly airflow due to the position of high pressure in the vicinity of the British Isles and low pressure over the South East Europe,
This colder air will move over warmer waters and bring further snow over central and South East Europe this week, the snow will be heavier and more persistent over the Alps as well as the mountains in Bulgaria.

What a difference to the weather conditions Europe experienced eight decades ago already in early in January 1940, as shown by an excerpt from [ http://www.seaclimate.com/c/c7/c7.html  ]:

  • January 2, 1940; Esbjerg – soft or new ice, navigation not hindered, Danish light buoys were withdrawn over the next 10 days.

  • January 8, 1940: A record frost today covered Northern and Central Russia , with the thermometer at 31 degrees below zero Fahrenheit (-35°C), and impeded normal activity. (NYT, Jan. 09, 1940).

  • January 13, 1940: Riga/Latvia; The most bitter cold wave of years, which sent temperatures in Baltic countries to as low as 40 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, ended abruptly today. The mercury rose rapidly to a few degrees below zero Fahrenheit. Parts of the Baltic have frozen over, and floating and pack ice are likely to interfere with shipping for some time (NYT, Jan 14, 1940).

  • January 6, 1940; Drift ice in the East Scheldt . Ameland temporarily cut off from the mainland by ice. River Maas is frozen over from Woudrichem to Heusden.

  • January 14, 1940; Drift ice on river Scheldt reported to have torn buoys from their mooring. Simultaneously it was observed that “in these nine days conditions have deteriorated very rapidly and one sees the first real indication of somewhat abnormal conditions, most particular is the freezing of rivers Scheldt and Maas ” (Frankcom, 1940).

  • January 17, 1940; Ice reported in the North Sea off Jutland for the first time in many years, up to 2 miles from the coast. Fjord in Jutland frozen over. Ice three meters thick reported from western end of Limfjord. Minus 23°F reported during the night in Denmark

  • January 18, 1940; Helsinki : “Pitiless, deadly cold laid a glacial cover on Russian’s war machinery tonight… near Salla, above the Arctic Circle . Phenomenal 54-degrees-below-zero temperature (-48°C) restrained the Russian air forces… and apparently immobilized Russian ground forces, which have been attacking on the Karelian Isthmus (NYT, Jan 18 1940).

  • January 18, 1940: Temperatures of more than 50 degrees below zero Fahrenheit were reported from several points. At Nickby, northeast of Helsinki , a temperature of 58 degrees below zero was recorded – the coldest since 1878. It was 11 degrees below zero in Helsinki (NYT, Jan. 19, 1940).

  • January 20, 1940; “Thus they are able… to relieve men exhausted by a week of fighting in temperatures plunging to 60 degrees below zero” (NYT, January 21, 1940, p.23, left 1st column).

  • January 21, 1940: “The cold polar air remained stagnant over vast areas of Europe and North America . Result: Some of the coldest weather in half a century. In Moscow the temperature on January 17th dropped to 49 degrees below zero Fahrenheit (-45°C), and in parts of Finland to 58 degrees below zero. Such temperatures can be measured only on alcohol thermometers, because mercury freezes solid at 38 degrees below zero” (NYT, January 21, 1940, Weekend in Review, Title: War in the Cold).

The events described and the data clearly indicate that random processes are eliminated there. Why was Northern and Central Europe so badly affected? Southern Europe, including Switzerland , however, was much less affected from the Arctic temperatures simply because they didn’t have naval warfare at their front door, ……

“The highs (over North Europe), however supported a uniform inflow of cold air from northern Russia and Siberia, but blocked the way for mild air currents from the Atlantic and southern latitudes.”

This statement confirms the ‘weather blocking’ situation which was man-made by stirring the regional seas.


Since 2015 a number of postings have dealt with January 1940, here an example:

Poland’s Cold Snap: ‘deadliest ever’ or: ‘most ignorant claim ever’?

Author: admin

Leave a Reply