Anec-data, But…

I’ve been keeping an eye on the weather in Central and Eastern Europe for a few months now, comparing it with the averages and trying to make some plans. You probably have not heard, at least if you are in the US, but they have been having flooding the past few weeks due to cool temps and heavy rains. Two to four inches in 24 hours will do that. The pattern got me thinking about “When was the last time I’ve experienced truly hot weather in northern Europe?” 2005. 1994 was not fun, but 2005 was the last time.

It’s anecdata, but…

The last truly hot day I recall experiencing in northern Europe was in June 2005. July 1994 in the Rhineland was miserable, with highs over 40 C (in the upper 90s F). No one wanted to leave the university buildings, because they were built into the walls of a 15th and 17th Century fortress. 8′ thick stone stays cool in summer. Then in June 2005 it reached 98F the day we got to Berlin. That night they had “severe storms” with pea-sized hail, and it was in the 70s for the rest of the trip. But ever since? Things have been cool. I expected that on the North Sea, because of all that cold water, but even inland summers are not as warm as in the early 1990s through the early 2000s.

2009 ended with ferocious cold in Bavaria/Austria/Hungary/Bohemia. The underground in Vienna stopped running one morning because of the cold (20F). In 2013, the people in Munich were unhappy because it had been so cold (50s and 60s) that no one wanted to visit the beer gardens. That year also saw bad floods in western Germany, although nothing compared to what hit the Danube, Inn, and other eastern rivers. It was almost 2006 all over again for Leipzig, although not as bad for Prague. 2015? Warm but not overly so, and a lot of snow remained in the mountains, with a later than average snow-melt peak. 2017 felt chilly, even inland, although standing in the sun in a crowd with no wind surrounded by stone and stone buildings watching children do the “Rat-catcher of Hameln”… I almost overheated.

Last year? Lovely and not over warm, even inside the walls of medieval cities. There were three warm to hot days in the Rhineland, and then temps dropped to the 60s and stayed there.

This year, eastern Europe has been flooding again, and Krakow and eastern Czech Republic have not gotten into the 70s. At least, not until mid-May. I’m planning on packing as if we are going to the North Sea again, but without knee-high rain boots this time.

These are pure anec-data and I know southern Europe, especially Spain and Portugal, have had serious droughts and heat in the summers. But the pattern is interesting, and a touch worrisome. Remember, I study environmental history, which means looking at the long run of climate patterns. We’ve had reduced solar radiation and energy reaching the Earth for the past 15 years, and that seems to be continuing in the near future. Once you eliminated the heat-island effect from the temperature records, the amount of warming in the Northern Hemisphere since 1998 is negligible or even negative. Cool and wet is bad news in Europe. The worst famines and disease outbreaks came from cool or cold and wet periods. The early 1300s. The period of 1595-1640. The late 1700s-early 1800s. The mid 400s-early 700s.

You look at those dates and say, “Um, Black Death and Hundred Years War. The 80 Years, 30 Years, and other wars. French Revolution and wars of Napoleon. End of Rome and the Volkervanderung and Plague of Justinian.”

Now, just as one swallow doth not a summer make, a cool decade as experienced by one person in one month in one part of Europe doth not “a new Ice Age” or “the end of the interglacial” or “anthropogenic global cooling” make. The plural of anecdote is not data.

But you know, it’s interesting.


18 thoughts on “Anec-data, But…

  1. Adding another anecdote, for May 2019, Scotland, for areas moderated by the Gulf Stream. Measurable snowfall on Ben Nevis and other 3000+ ft peaks, May 5-6 and 12-13. Mixed rain and snow at sea level on May 5-6, no accumulation. Not mentioning the unseasonably cold (10 deg C) and windy conditions.

    Interesting, and odd that many people forget that conditions are driven by the Big Brightest Shiny Thing in Sky. Depending on hysteresis from heat adsorption, the driving forces for oceanic and atmospheric heat/mass transfer slow down. Rain and wind, and weather events can get sharper gradients without global moderation: rain, cold, floods, droughts. None are good things,m. Time for disaster prep, not declaiming it’s anthropogenic.

    • Well, we were assured that Europe would be like Siberia by 2020 unless we gave grifters all the monies and all the powerz.

  2. Actually, the plural of anecdote is data. In a very real, meaningful way. Unless you hold to the principal that things don’t really happen unless a scientist is there to document the event. (See, for example, rogue waves. Known to exist by sailors for centuries, poo-poohed by science until a scientist on a cruise got hit with one, filmed it, and survived to tell the tale.)

    • *nod*

      Anecdote isn’t carefully measured result from highly controlled variables repeated in a lab— but neither is most science, these days.

      • I’d like to argue otherwise by cherry picking only scientific data I have personally prepared, but it turns out that I am a lousy scientist. 🙂

        I feel if that you could contrive to selectively narrow the definition of science, you probably could narrow down to a fairly reliable set of documents. But I would only really trust data that I had prepared myself, and I’m not satisfied by the quality and volume of stuff that I have done that could be called science.

    • You’re right. I have a habit of rounding the highs down, because most people don’t believe me when I say it got to over 100 F in Germany. Without heat index. Upper 90s people have no trouble with. *shrug* Go figure.

  3. Maunder Minimum is here. And I wouldn’t expect it to improve much over the next couple of years. Hysteresis plays a part, the question is, how BIG a part.

  4. “I expected that on the North Sea, because of all that cold water, ”

    More ‘dotes.

    I arrived in Germany in May of 1986 for what turned out to be two consecutive tours of a bit over six years total. Geilenkirchen is on the border approximately where Germany, The Netherlands, and Luxembourg meet. About 150 miles from the North Sea. It rained EVERY DAY until the 4th of July. The US forces held a celebration near Brunssum, NL just across the border, and the rain broke enough that we could see the fireworks against the clouds. Then it rained AGAIN, EVERY DAY, until some time in September, when it turned cold. Not cold enough to snow — apparently the North Sea is cold enough to douse summer temps, but just warm enough to make winter simply wet and miserable. Oh and because of the latitude, dark. And cold and miserably wet.

    Thankfully not every summer was like that, but a “hot” day during that time was reaching 80F. The Germans and Dutch were so starved for warmth that an 80F day caused the local female population to shed an amazing amount of clothing. But that’s a story for another time. No wonder vacations to Greece and Italy and Spain were so popular.

    We could look northwest and see wave after wave of rain clouds coming. We North Americans and a fair amount of other nationalities played a lot of softball, and it was not uncommon to suspend the game for a few minutes while the rain swept by, then scurry out for a couple more innings before the next wave of clouds arrived.

    One day in about 1989 I hitched a ride on one of our E-3s to RAF Waddington, in Lincolnshire, England. This coincided with a little heat wave of about 90+F, and IIRC included the hottest day in Lincolnshire since 1900-something. How hot was it? It was so hot the officers club at Waddo relaxed the rules and let officers in the club WITHOUT TIES. Egad.

    As an antidote to the heat, the Brits (who had no airconditioning whatsoever) introduced me to shandy.

    • Shandy … gooood. Steinekugell (sp?) got to bbn us recently, and it’s great for spring and summer days. They could serve hard cider with some ice to keep it chilled; also a good drink for hot days.

    • Berlin was quite similar. It rained every day except during Spring (one week in May) and Fall (one week in September). During those sunny days, the entire city went naked. It’s weird to stand in line at a bank behind a man wearing nothing but a bowler hat, dress shoes, and black socks with garters.

      It’s not a coincidence that Germany hasn’t started a single war since the invention of the tanning booth.

  5. “… as experienced by one person…” On the other hand, I’d be willing to bet that there were at least a few others in your vicinity – and more – who experienced the same thing, Especially the biergartens.

  6. “Things have been cool. I expected that on the North Sea, because of all that cold water, but even inland summers are not as warm as in the early 1990s through the early 2000s.” Must be that global cooling we’ve been hearing about!

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