December 6, 2023 - Heavy Snow in Europe

Heavy Snow in Europe

Frigid cold and feet of fresh snow have blasted parts of Central Europe in early December 2023. The storm system primarily affected southern Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and the Czech Republic but effects were also felt from northern Italy to Poland, Western Russia, and Ukraine, according to Weather Underground.

Munich, Germany’s third-largest city, has been particularly hard hit, with more than 16 inches (41 cm) of fresh snow falling on December 2. The heavy snow snarled traffic as well as shut down the city’s airport. Continuing snowfall and freezing rain have prolonged air traffic disruption. On December 5, Euronews reported, “Of the 771 flights scheduled for today, more than 80% are cancelled and almost all of the rest are delayed”. Icy tracks also stopped train travel, with connections between Munich and Innsbruck and Salzburg, Austria as well as Zurich, Sweden still closed as of December 5.

But breath-taking snowfall totals and weather-related impact were hardly limited to Germany. The BBC reported that Cumbria, in northwestern England, was hit with up to a foot of snow on December 2. Vehicles there were stranded, and about 13,000 customers lost power. In addition, 30 schools in Cornwall, England were closed and Glasgow Airport, in Scotland, had to ground all flights due to heavy snow.

The winter storm also struck the Alps, creating difficult conditions for a few days but ultimately left many ski resorts thrilled. For example, according to PlanetSki, resorts near Innsbruck, Austria sported a snow depth of 1.5 meters (59 inches) with a topping of about 50 cm (19.6 in) of fresh powder.

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) acquired a true-color image of a deep, fresh snowpack atop a portion of the Alps on December 6, 2023. From west to east, countries seen in this image include Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Germany, and Austria. The Italian Alps encompass much of the southern portion of the snow-blanketed region. Italy’s Po Valley remains green and snow-free.

Image Facts
Satellite: Terra
Date Acquired: 12/3/2023
Resolutions: 1km (673.4 KB), 500m (1.8 MB), 250m (1.6 MB)
Bands Used: 1,4,3
Image Credit: MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC