Fig.1: Temperatures in February 2021 at the DWD station Garsebach near Meissen
Fig.2: Sahara dust dims the sun on February 24th in Steinhausen/Baden Württemberg (Photo:
Review Winter 2020/2021
How you define the first day of winter depends on whether you are referring to the
astronomical or meteorological winter. However, generally we use a meteorological
definition of the seasons. By the meteorological calendar, the first day of winter is always
December 1st; ending on February 28th (or 29th during a Leap Year). So, the last winter
season 2020/21 consists of December 2020 as well as January and February 2021.
The winter 2020/21 at the weather station Dresden-Klotzsche was 1.3 degrees Celsius
warmer compared to the international reference period 1961–1990. Last winter did not take
a top position and ranks with a mean of 1.5°C as the 22th warmest winter in a series from
1934. The greatest deviation of average values we observed in December with + 2.7 degrees;
the smallest deviation in February with + 0.2 degrees Celsius. The two warmest winters to
date occurred in 2006/2007 with 4.6 °C and, as we still remember, 2019/2020 with 4.4 °C
respectively. The extremely cold winter of 1962/63 with an average temperature of -6.2 °C
should also be mentioned for comparison at this point.
To look at average values alone would fall short, because you would hide the observed
extraordinary opposite warm and cold extremes in February. With a difference of 42 degrees
Celsius a new record can be reported in our region for the difference between the maximum
and minimum temperatures within two weeks.
Temperatures increased within two weeks from -21.6 °C on February 9th to +20.5 °C on
February 24th at the weather station Garsebach near Meissen - such a substantial increase
of 42 degrees Celsius over such a short time period has never occurred in our region since
weather records began (fig.1).
In this winter, only January were significantly wet relative to average. The extremely critical
drought condition for the last 3 years persisted within deeper layers of the soil - despite of
the heavier precipitation in January. Sahara dust (fig.2) was a common phenomenon in
February 2021, e.g. as „blood snow“. Last but not least we observed 39 hours more sunshine
in the winter 2020/21 in relation to the long-term average 1961-1990.