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Winter 2023/2022 in review

Too warm, too dry and too little sun

The winter of 2023/2022 was 2.2 degrees Celsius warmer than the international reference
period 1961-1990. However, it did not take a top position and ranks 12th in a series from
1961 onwards with a mean value of 2.9 °C. The largest deviation from the mean values was
observed in January with + 3.9; the smallest deviation in December with + 2.0 degrees. The
two warmest winters to date were in 2007/2006 with 4.6 °C and in winter 2020/2019 with 4.4
°C. With regard to the assessment of the possible range of fluctuation, the extremely cold
winter of 1963/1962 with an average temperature of -6.2 °C should also be mentioned here
for comparison.

December 2022 ended with a bang on New Year's Eve: Temperatures around 17°C were still
measured around midnight, which was also a new warmth record for the following January

Last winter, at our measuring station Coswig IKG (Hellmann rain gauge), only February was
wetter than average (135 %); January was too dry with 82 % and December with only 71 %.
The extremely critical dryness of recent years continued unabated in deeper soil layers - the
aforementioned precipitation in February did little to change this situation. Winter
precipitation has decreased by an average of 21 mm since 1961. A negative signal for the
water balance in the soil.

Also interesting for us was the spatial distribution of precipitation in Germany in the month of
February. As a result of the large-scale distribution of air pressure in Europe, the almost
habitual decrease in precipitation from the southwest to the northeast was reversed in
February. Now the precipitation mainly affected the north-east of Germany and the south-
west suffered from drought. The Berlin area also benefited from the precious water after long
dry spells.

The average duration of sunshine has been steadily increasing since measurements began,
even in winter with 37 hours since 1961. Last winter did not fit into this picture at all. It was
predominantly cloudy and in the end 48 hours were missing relative to the reference value.
After the turn of the millennium, we only observed less sunshine in the winter of 2013.

Note: How one determines the first day of winter depends on whether one wants to refer to
astronomical or meteorological winter. However, we usually use the meteorological
definition of the seasons. According to the meteorological calendar, the first day of winter is
always 1 December; it ends on 28 (or 29 in a leap year) February. The last winter season
2023/2022 therefore consists of December 2022 and January and February 2023.


Fig.1: Temperature curve in December 2022 at the DWD station Dresden-Klotzsche. The
record-breaking maximum on 31.12.2022 is also clearly visible.

Author: Wilfried Küchler

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