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Northern Europe poised for record warm winter

04 Mar 2020 / 11:21 H.

NORTHERN European countries known for skiing and other snowy pursuits are poised to record one of the warmest winters ever after weeks of unseasonably high temperatures.

In Sweden’s capital Stockholm, cherry trees bloomed in January 2020 as much of the country recorded temperatures six to seven degrees Celsius higher than normal since December 2019.

“It is the warmest winter in recorded history in southern and central Sweden,“ the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI) said in a statement to AFP.

Sweden’s neighbours Norway, Denmark and Finland have also seen high temperatures.

Some companies have practically given away ski suits, bonnets and other winter attire well before the season ends.

In Uppsala, about 70 kilometres north of Stockholm, this is the warmest winter since 1722, or nearly 300 years.

Across the border in Finland, more than half of the country recorded the mildest January ever. Temperatures were seven to eight degrees higher than average, the country’s meteorological institute said.

Norway experienced its mildest winter since record keeping began in 1900. Temperatures exceeded the seasonal norm by 4.5 degrees.

The same goes for Denmark, the southernmost country in the region. Winter, which officially ended on the last day of February, saw temperatures that were five degrees above normal.

“If this winter remains etched in the collective memory, it will be as the winter which never arrived,“ said Mikael Scharling, of the Danish Meteorological Institue.

Unusual in places that are wild about winter sports, capitals like Oslo, Stockholm and Helsinki saw little to no snow in January.

Greta worried

“We have just experienced the first Jan-Feb period on record without any measurable snow in Helsinki,“ said Mika Rantanen, of the Finnish Meteorological Institute.

“I think that is quite extraordinary,“ Rantanen said.

A figurehead in the campaign against climate change, Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg has taken to Twitter to voice her concerns.

“Stockholm just experienced it’s warmest winter ever recorded (since measures began 1756),“ Thunberg tweeted.

It has also been one of the wettest winters across northern Europe.

Seventy percent more precipitation than normal hit Norway, according to the Norwegian Meteorological Institute.

Sweden has also suffered.

“The worst flooding is in the southwest parts of Sweden, where a lot of farm land... is soaked in water,“ said Ulf Wallin, spokesman for Sweden’s agriculture federation LRF.

“For many farmers the autumn sowing of winter wheat has been destroyed,“ Wallin said.

“The warm winter can leach the soil and we even have seen plants begin to bloom that we never seen so early before.”

If the situation improves, the LRF expects to see normal crop yields for 2020 but still lower than those in 2019.

In Denmark, floods today threaten nearly half a million buildings across the country and much farm land but exact figures have yet to be tallied.- AFP

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