The first week of meteorological winter has brought continued cold and snow to many areas of central and northern Europe.
In Sweden, a strong Baltic storm dumped up to 1.5 feet (40 cm) of snow and brought blizzard conditions to central and eastern parts of the country on Wednesday. At least 8 inches fell in Stockholm, disrupting public transit in the Swedish capital and grounding most air traffic in and out of the country’s busiest airport. About 6,000 people lost power in the Stockholm region as temperatures were stuck below freezing all day.
Several Nobel Prize laureates, expected to arrive in Stockholm prior to next week’s awards ceremony, were delayed due to the whiteout conditions.
Due to the heavy snowfall, Sweden’s Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI) issued a class 2 storm warning out of a three-point scale on Wednesday. At the height of the snowstorm, the SMHI observed wind gusts between 35-40 mph at weather stations in east-central Sweden. A minimum pressure of 990 mb was recorded at Stockholm’s Bromma Airport Wednesday.
As a dip in the jet stream brings arctic air into central Europe, daytime temperatures will be stuck below freezing in Stockholm and southern Sweden through the weekend. The same air mass will also keep high temperatures in the 30-40ºF range (-1 to 4ºC) from northern France into Germany, with even colder readings in eastern Europe.
While arctic fronts frequently bring cold and snow to Scandinavia in the winter months, heavy snowfall is less common in southern and coastal Sweden, where the Baltic Sea helps moderate temperatures. Even at its high latitude, Stockholm usually sees only light to moderate snowfall in winter, and winter temperatures actually average a bit warmer than those of Chicago. During Wednesday’s flight cancellations, a spokesperson from Sweden’s airport authority noted it was unusual for such heavy snowfall to last for so long.
Yet for all its disruption, the fresh snow should brighten the winter landscape during this darkest month of the year. Anticipating the colder weather pattern last week, a Swedish news site wrote:
“Those pining for snow to work its magic on Sweden’s long, dark nights, the wait is almost over.”
Indeed, as Stockholm and much of Sweden now see the sun set before 3 p.m., the newly glistening landscape offers a ray of light just in time for the holidays.
A video and some more photos of winter across Sweden follow…