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.