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March Heat Wave in Central Europe

By: Christopher C. Burt, 7:15 PM GMT on March 19, 2014

March Heat Wave in Central Europe

Just as the cold and snow has persisted through March in the eastern U.S. so has the unusual warmth in Europe. The record warm temperatures set at many locations earlier this month in France, Germany, and the Low Countries has now settled in over Switzerland, northern Italy, and other central European countries. Here are some details.

A bubble of high pressure centered over Switzerland has brought near all-time March heat to the country and surrounding nations. Map from WetterOnline.


The southern Alpine region has seen the most impressive temperature anomalies. Lugano, Switzerland reached 27.0°C (80.6°F) on March 18th, the 2nd warmest March temperature ever measured in the city. Aosta, Italy at 500 m (1500’) elevation and near Mt. Blanc (Europe’s highest mountain) soared to an incredible 30.0°C (86.0°F) as a result of local down sloping winds. Geneva reached 22.5°C (72.5°F) its warmest so early in the season but well short of its March record of (77°F). Geneva’s normal daily high temperature for this time of the year is 11.2°C (52.2°F). Other Swiss cities that set at least daily record highs include: Sion 22.5°C (72.5°F); Stabio 26.4°C (79.6°F); Locarno 26.3°C (79.3°F); and Grono 25.5°C (77.9°F).

Other high temperatures were observed aside from Switzerland on either March 17 or March 18th, with the highest by nation as follows:

Bosnia-Herzegovina: 29.2°C (84.6°F) at Zenica

Spain: 27.9°C (82.2°F) at Murcia

Slovenia: 27.0°C (80.6°F) at Cronomelj

France: 26.8°C (80.2°F) at Beziers-Vias

Bulgaria: 26.0°C (78.8°F at Varna

Austria: 24.3°C (75.7°) at Saint Andrae

Somewhere in there is the Eifel Tower. The warm and stagnant air mass that has settled over Western Europe for the past week resulted in a smog emergency in Paris for the past five days. Conditions improved yesterday (March 18th). Photo from Insideeevs.com

Cooler weather is forecast to push through Switzerland today and Thursday while the heat may build over southeastern Europe in places like Slovenia and Romania.

KUDOS: Thanks to Maximilianao Hererra for some of the above figures.

Christopher C. Burt
Weather Historian

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The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.