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Europe’s Coldest Winter Of The 20thC

December 2, 2014

By Paul Homewood

 

h/t Henry P  

 

 

We are all familiar with stories of how the German advance on Moscow stalled in the winter of 1941/2. Meteorologists believe this may have been the coldest winter in Europe in the 20thC.

 

The Severe Winter in Europe 1941–42: The Large-scale Circulation, Cut-off Lows, and Blocking

Harald Lejenäs

ABSTRACT

The winter of 1941–42 is known as the coldest European winter of the 20th Century. The temperature was much below normal from the beginning of January until the end of March 1942. Blockings and cut-off lows were frequent, particularly during January and February 1942.

The role of quasi-stationary waves during this winter has been studied by decomposing the 500-mb geopotential height data in a low-pass, filtered, quasi-stationary part and a traveling part. The phase of the quasi-stationary wave was such that a ridge was present over the eastern Atlantic and a trough over western Russia throughout most of the winter. As a result, the majority of migratory cyclones that approached Europe from the west were steered either south toward the Mediterranian or north of Scandinavia.

The synoptic course of events during an outbreak of unusually cold air from the northeast at the end of January 1942 is described in some detail. Some comments are given on how the severe winter weather affected the war in the USSR.

http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/1520-0477%281989%29070%3C0271%3ATSWIET%3E2.0.CO%3B2

 

 

Note that the effect that blockings had on the weather.

 

Again, the GISS maps show how the cold air was parked over most of Europe and western Russia, with warm air stuck over North America.

 

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http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/maps/

13 Comments
  1. December 2, 2014 3:15 pm

    Interestingly it is the opposite of the recent scenario whereby cold has been over North America and Asia but warmth in Western Europe.

    It seems that in a cooling meridional Jetstream scenario with more blocking there can be large variations in the positioning of the surface level pressure cells.

    Sometimes one region gets hit hard whilst another gets benign conditions then it all swaps around a year or two later.

    However, AGW proponents proposed more poleward, zonal jets and warmer winters for everyone so they are clearly wrong.

    More likely, solar variations make all the difference between warming zonality with less clouds and cooling meridionality with more clouds.

  2. December 2, 2014 3:39 pm

    With regard to this matter the paper by Neumann/Flohn*) should be mentioned, as Flohn (1912-1997) was requested in summer 1941 “…ti investigate the winter climate in the western USSR in a coparative manne.”; page 625 at: http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/pdf/10.1175/1520-0477%281987%29068%3C0620%3AGHETWS%3E2.0.CO%3B2 ,
    offering no clue why this happened and whether the war did contribute. Also Lejenäs also talks about. “…how the severe winter weather affected the war in the USSR.”, but not why
    —“The phase of the quasi-stationary wave was such that a ridge was present over the eastern Atlantic and a trough over western Russia throughout most of the winter.“ What caused the quasi-stationary wave? Requiring a sufficient answer to this would bring up a sweat to AGW-climatologists .
    *) J. Neumann and H. Flohn, 1987: Great Historical Events That Were Significantly Affected by the Weather: Part 8, Germany’s War on the Soviet Union, 1941–45. I. Long-range Weather Forecasts for 1941–42 and Climatological Studies. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 68, 620–630.

  3. December 2, 2014 7:00 pm

    I am still looking for that video about the winter in Holland 1941-1942.
    I remember the snow was unbelievably high….

  4. December 2, 2014 7:38 pm

    I found that video now, but cannot load it up via the internet. It seems too big even though it is still in black and white.
    Anyone here have an idea?

    • December 2, 2014 8:21 pm

      Can’t you upload it on youtube and then put a link here?

  5. December 2, 2014 8:30 pm

    Should be possible, but youtube ignores my copy-and-paste. Will ask my son and try again tomorrow.

  6. December 2, 2014 8:36 pm

    @Stephen Wilde
    nice to hear from you again
    we have been out of touch….

  7. December 3, 2014 6:39 pm

    Here is a free manual that explains: Long and short waves, Upper-level highs and lows, Blocks, Zonal and meridional flow, Jet streams.
    Hit next to change pages
    .
    http://www.tpub.com/weather2/8-19.htm

  8. Andy DC permalink
    December 4, 2014 2:07 pm

    Late March 1942 produced a huge snowstorm over the US mid-Atlantic states. 18″ in the immediate Washington, DC suburbs, close to 2 feet in Baltimore City and up to 3 feet in northern Maryland. No doubt, all the unusual blocking was a contributing factor. Global Weirding at its finest!

  9. Edward. permalink
    December 4, 2014 10:39 pm

    Anecdotally…..and from memory, long ago I do recall some relatives telling me – how bad some winters were during the II WW, particularly winter 41-42 and 43.

    From above synopsis:

    As a result, the majority of migratory cyclones that approached Europe from the west were steered either south toward the Mediterranian or north of Scandinavia.

    A ha, the conveyor splitting west of the UK running north towards Iceland and south to the Med……… just exactly what is happening now – I’ve a bad feeling about it and like I said over at BH – what with the MO ‘thinking’ that this winter will run with ‘”above average temps” – as the cub scouts used to aver, “be prepared”.

    • Julien Peter Benney permalink
      November 22, 2015 12:10 pm

      1942/1943 was actually a very warm winter in the UK. it was Central England’s second-warmest winter between 1899/1900 and 1973/1974, and despite the impact of Australian greenhouse emissions the sixth-warmest of the twentieth century. This winter was warmer than average all over northern Russia, though colder than normal in Central Asia and the Caucasus, but 1943/1944 was warmer than average over all of Eurasia bar the Far East and the Iberian Peninsula.

      It is fascinating to speculate whether the Nazis would have taken Moscow in the mild winters of 1942/1943 or 1943/1944??

      The rise between winters 1941/1942 and 1942/1943 is only the ninth-largest in the CET series since 1660, and by magnitude (ignoring sign) of change it is nineteenth-largest.

      By rank, however the rise from 1941/1942 (49th coldest, though seventh coldest since 1895) to 1942/1943 (14th warmest) is third-greatest rise in rank ever recorded, with the only greater rises in rank occurring from 1844/1845 to 1845/1846 and from 1794/1795 to 1795/1796.

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