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Event description

Cold in Central and Western Europe, Winter 2009

GEO theme: Health, Energy

Category: Cold

The winter of 2009 was noticeably colder than usual for Central and Western Europe and above normal for portions of Eastern Europe and Scandinavia. This can be clearly seen below in the ECA&D anomaly map for the number of frost days where the minimum temperature is below 0°C.

ECA&D anomaly map of the number of frost days, where the minimum temperature is below 0°C, for January 2009 when compared to the normal period 1961-1990. Please click on the map for its most recent version.


A particularly cold spell occurred in late December and early January when at least 12 fatalities were reported across Europe. Transport was affected in many places, and in the Netherlands ice breaker ships were called into service in Rotterdam for the first time since 1996.

However, the cold weather brought much delight to the Dutch as a thick layer of ice covered lakes and canals and many people took the opportunity to enjoy some ice skating.

Dutch skaters on a canal near Rotterdam. Photo courtesty of: lettershometoyou.wordpress.com


Unfortunately, though, the country was unable to stage its 11 cities tour, a 200 km race over canals and rivers, in the northern province of Friesland because the freezing weather mainly occurred in southern portions of the country.

ECA&D anomaly map of the number of ice days, where the maximum temperature is less than 0°C, in January 2009 when compared to the normal period 1961-1990. Please click on the map for its most recent version.


Though the winter of 2009 was noticably colder than normal with more ice days than usual, the long-term trend from 1961-2010 is toward a decrease in the number of ice days in January which is consistent with the strong trend toward winter warming by an average of 1 to 1.5°C per decade over the past 50 years.

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