Just weeks after a bitter cold blast that brought heavy snow to Germany, the Netherlands and Britain, much of Western Europe is enjoying a taste of spring. Temperatures some 25 degrees Fahrenheit or more above normal have swarmed over most of the continent, with highs in the mid-60s in many areas as any lingering snow quickly disappears.

Western Europe sits on the rising end of a meteorological seesaw that’s simultaneously sending temperatures across a broad swath of Russia plummeting below zero.

The bipolar jet stream pattern has also shuttled dust from the Sahara Desert all the way to Scandinavia, tinging the sunset in Paris on Tuesday.

Record-setting warmth

On Monday, the mercury soared into the 60s in Germany, where average highs for mid- to late February are usually in the lower to mid-40s. Hamburg hit 70 degrees, not only the warmest on record in February but for any winter month. It beat out the previous record, set a day earlier, by 4.3 degrees.

Much like what has happened during the extreme warm wave that also swallowed China this weekend, it’s very rare for records to fall by so many degrees, a testament to the anomalous nature of this event.

In southern Germany near the border with Switzerland, Weingarten set a monthly record at 68.7 degrees Monday, while Hanover, in the north, did the same with a high of 66. Highs even topped 60 degrees Monday along the border of the much colder Baltic Sea.

On Tuesday, 14 monthly records fell in the Czech Republic, as did four in Poland. Most of Poland sat in the 50s, though southwestern regions near Wroclaw and on the borders of Germany and the Czech Republic surged into the 60s. The border town of Szklarska Poreba made it to 62.2 degrees, beating out the monthly record of 58.8 from 1998.

In southern Austria at Koflach, the warmest February temperature in at least 15 years was observed when highs approached 73 degrees. That value, in addition to probably being a monthly record for that particular weather station, was also just 2.8 degrees shy of the all-time national record for February set in 2019.

Wednesday’s temperatures were also abnormally warm, with the website MeteoPrognoza.pl tweeting that temperatures averaged across Poland were the second-warmest ever observed in February.

Lons-le-Saunier in France hit 20 Celsius — 68 degrees Fahrenheit — on Wednesday for the first time in a winter month in more than 50 years.

Across most of central and Western Europe, highs some 20 to 30 degrees above average continued Wednesday and will become even more widespread Thursday. Even parts of Sweden could see highs 15 degrees above normal, with one last exceptionally warm day in Europe on Friday.

Thereafter, some moderation of temperatures is expected, though most of Europe will still be above average into next week.

A conveyor belt of Saharan dust

As warm air has swept over Europe, the jet stream has drawn dust northward from the Sahara Desert.

The dust brought a coffee-colored sunset in western Germany, fine particulates in the atmosphere scattering some of the sun’s more high-energy rays. A similar phenomenon was seen in France, with reports of dust making it as far north as Finland.

A bit of dust even ebbed over Eastern Europe, but it will be dispersed and shunted southeast as mid-level winds turn more northwesterly.

Bitter cold in Russia

Meanwhile, on the cold side of the wavy jet stream, temperatures plunged 25 degrees below average in western Russia. The upper-atmosphere river of winds screamed north in Western Europe, dragging warm air and southerly winds with it, before crashing south once again and unleashing bitter Arctic cold in Russia.

Koygorodok, in west-central Russia, hit minus-44.7 degrees, while Vladimir, a city in western Russia, fell to minus-24.7. Both set records. A number of other records were established, as well.

The frigid air over Russia is forecast to linger through the weekend before some of the milder air over Western Europe oozes east early next week.

Hat tip to Maximiliano Herrera (@extremetemps), world weather historian, and Etienne Kapikian (@EKMeteo) of Meteo France for posting European temperature data and extremes on Twitter.