Christopher C. Burt is the author of 'Extreme Weather; A Guide and Record Book'. He studied meteorology at the Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison.
By: Christopher C. Burt , 9:17 PM GMT on December 13, 2013
Topsy-Turvy Weather in Europe, Middle East
UPDATE No snow or sleet fell in the suburbs of Cairo, Egypt, just hail. However, snow did fall in portions of Israel and Jordan while record high temperatures occurred in northern Scandinavia this week. Once again, a convoluted jet stream (as we saw last week between Alaska and the contiguous U.S.) is causing topsy-turvy weather in the northern hemisphere.
The 500 mb heights analysis for 00 UTC on December 11th when record warm temperatures occurred in Sweden while snow began to fall in the Middle East.
The temperatures in northern Sweden have been on a roller coaster so far this month. One site, Nikkaluokta saw its temperature fall from 4.7°C (40.5°F) on December 3rd to -40.8°C (-41.4°F) on December 9th only to then rise to a maximum of 7.7°C (45.9°F) on December 11th, an amazing rise of 48.5°C (87.3°F) in just under 48 hours!
Temperatures for Nikkaluokta, Sweden so far this December. Note the extraordinary rise in temperature on December 11th, about 20°C (35°F) in just three hours late in the day. Graph courtesy of Michael Theusner, Klimahaus, Bremerhaven, Germany.
Many locations in northern Sweden measured their warmest December temperatures on record last Wednesday (December 11th) including a 9.5°C (49.1°F) reading at Umea, Vasterbotten which has temperature data going back to 1858 (previous record was 9.0°C/48.2°F in December 1932). Gunnarn/Stensele, Lapland smashed its previous December high with a 9.6°C (49.3°F) reading, former monthly record was 7.8°C (46.0°F) in 1953 (POR began in 1860).
Minimum temperatures in C° for Scandinavia on December 9th (top map) and maximum temperatures C° on December 11th (bottom map). An incredible turn around for the entire region. Map courtesy of Michael Theusner, Klimahaus, Bremerhaven, Germany.
Meanwhile, on the cold side of the ridge snow fell at low elevations in Egypt (Sinai), Israel, and Jordan among other Middle East nations. Hail fell in Cairo’s eastern suburb of Madinaty.
A photograph making the rounds on social media purportedly of the snow or sleet at Madinaty, Egypt (a suburb of Cairo) on December 13th. In fact, this was small hail not sleet or snow. Photographer not identified.
Cairo Airport reported rain and temperatures in the 40°s so far. Further north and east heavy snowfall has blanketed Jerusalem and snow was even reported at Haifa in Israel (the first in 22 years according to local officials). 30-50 centimeters (12-20”) has so far accumulated in elevated Jerusalem neighborhoods such as Gilo. However, snow has also been reported as low as 630 m (2000’) at Beit Horon.
Snowfall accumulation in a Jerusalem neighborhood on December 13th. More snow is forecast to blanket the region through Saturday. Photo by Israel Hatzolah.
Flash flooding has plagued Gaza and the lower elevations of Israel and Jordan including Tel Aviv. Rainfall of 121 mm (4.76”) has fallen over the past two days at Bet Dagan, Israel.
Media reports claim the snow on the outskirts of Cairo was “the first in 112 years” and that in Jerusalem “worst in decades” although both these statements are exaggerations and no sleet or snow fell in the Cairo area. In any case, it is unusually early in the winter to see such cold and snowfall at these locations (or hail near Cairo). The storm is expected to continue to impact the region into this weekend.
KUDOS: Thanks to Michael Theusner of Klimahaus, Bremerhaven, Germany for the Scandinavian temperature information and graphics.
Christopher C. Burt
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