Zurich’s Record String Of SNOWLESS Christmases Was Set In 1940s! …No Trend Over Past 80 Years

The human memory is not very reliable at calculating trends from the past. This has something to do with extraordinary events often crowding out uneventful ones – and standing out. As time progresses the extraordinary events tend to get overly weighted and distort the memory.

Balz Rittmeyer and Marc Fehr at this site here present a couple of charts from the Swiss Meteorological Office depicting the frequency of white Christmases (December 24-26) occurring in Zurich, Switzerland, putting to rest the often asserted claim “we don’t get white Christmases like we used to“.

The following chart uses green trees to depict snowless Christmases, white trees to depict white Christmases, and half green/half white to show Christmases where at least one day had at least 1 cm of snow.

Source: Meteo Schweiz

Rittmeyer and Fehr write:

Is climate change to blame for seldom occurrence of white Christmases nowadays? No. A look at the statistics shows that in earlier times there wasn’t more often snow on December 24, 25 or 26.”

Zurich is located at the base of the Alps at some 400 meters above sea level. Clearly in the 1930s Zurich saw a number Christmas holidays with snow on the ground. But note how in the 1940s Zurich saw 9 consecutive Christmases in a row without snow – by far the record. This year it appears that Zurich will reach 5 years in a row – yet still far short of the 1940s record. Arguably the last 15 years have been a bit on the light side, but so was the period from 1941 – 1960.

First 1843 London Christmas cards depicted no snow

Rittmeyer and Fehr also write that the misconception of more frequent snowy Christmas days is in part due to early idyllic postcard and book images of Christmas, such as those we often see on today’s Christmas greeting cards. They report that the first Christmas cards printed in London in 1843 showed no snow (citing Swiss climate scientist . It wasn’t until later, beginning in 1860, after Englishmen started spending the Christmas holidays in the Swiss mountains did images of snow appear on greeting cards in London.

Also analyses of snow on Christmas day in Germany also show no trend as well.

31 responses to “Zurich’s Record String Of SNOWLESS Christmases Was Set In 1940s! …No Trend Over Past 80 Years”

  1. DirkH

    And, even worse: humans seem to VOLUNTARILY Live in snow-less Zurich as attested by house prices there – when they could just move up the mountains to have snow year round, AND save money!

  2. sod

    Great. So you have just managed to contradict the UHI effect. So where do we go from here?

    In the real world, numbers like this have little meaning. You have so much freedom to chose data that suits your result (temperature, number of snow days, city, …). The result is without any meaning.

    1. yonason

      Heat island effect for a few cities…
      , Zurich being fairly high @ 7K – (p.7).

      Nope, sod never tires of being wrong. I’m wondering if it’s a real person, or one of those computer simulations I’ve read about that are designed to get you upset and waste your time answering them. Wouldn’t be surprised.

      1. sod

        “Zurich being fairly high @ 7K – (p.7).”

        If the growing town of Zurich had a strong heat island effect, we would see a different picture of snow days in the graphs above.

        The christmas tree graph, which is supposed to contradict global warming, of course also contradicts UHI effect.

        1. DirkH

          Sod. Every idiot knows that the big population explosion in Europe happened in the first half of the 20th century.

          It was for instance the basis for Hitler’s “Lebensraum” campaign.

          As we can see, not much population growth after 1950. You can be wrong about so many things at the same time, it’s adorable.

          1. sod

            “As we can see, not much population growth after 1950. ”

            i looked exactly at that graph, before i made my post. So you think that there is little UHI effect in Europe after the 50s? and that the warming phases in the early part of the 20th centuries can be explained by UHI? That is interesting!

            And looking at that graph: so the increase at the end of the 40s kept the beginning of the 40s warm already?

            and the peak does not show up in green Christmas data at all?

            and after the peak, the UHI effect vanished again (houses turned into meadows or what)?

            Could we just agree, that those tree graph tells us absolutely nothing about climate?

          2. DirkH

            sod 23. December 2015 at 9:03 AM | Permalink
            “i looked exactly at that graph, before i made my post. So you think that there is little UHI effect in Europe after the 50s? ”

            There were cities with their Urban Heat Island in 1950 and there are cities with their Urban Heat Island in 2015. The “UHI effect” is the Urban Heat Island.

            I think in your mind you have redefined “UHI effect” as the GROWTH of this over time but that is a misnomer. It shows your muddled thinking. You can’t think clearly about anything because you don’t differentiate between an effect and its development over time.

            Words, they mean something.

            Do you think you can arrive at correct prognostications of climate out to the year 2100 when you can’t even distinguish between an effect and its development over time? I don’t think so.

          3. DirkH

            Also, and this is really getting mind-boggling: You DID look at the population development of Zurich, noticed that there is no growth after 1950, yet you still made your original comment?

            I can’t even fathom your mental model of the world.

          4. DirkH

            Ah. Ah. Now I get it. sod means: Because ZURICH didn’t grow over 50 years, NO OTHER CITY in the world could have grown over the last 50 years, so there cannot have been an increase in UHI over the last 50 years, so Pierre has in sod minds refuted the effect of a growing UHI on temperature averages.

            Again, sod, it is amazing about how many things you can be wrong, I nearly started to think, yes, this is REALLY a bot. So, for your enlightenment: Places like the USA, as opposed to central Europe, actually DO have a GROWING population, as in, one or two percent growth in numbers, meaning, the cities actually DO grow.

        2. yonason

          UHI doesn’t stop snow from falling – it just makes it melt faster. As the kids say, “Duh!”

          1. sod

            “UHI doesn’t stop snow from falling – it just makes it melt faster.”

            Both effects would reduce the probability f snow on christmas day. What is your point?

          2. yonason

            My point is that it is not “global warming” or “climate change.”

            What’s yours?

    2. DirkH

      sod 22. December 2015 at 2:56 PM | Permalink | Reply
      “Great. So you have just managed to contradict the UHI effect. So where do we go from here?”

      Huh? You do realize that Zurich exists for quite a while already?

  3. Steve C

    Hang on. (Aging pedant alert!) Going by the infographic, Christmases were snow-free in 1941-1949 inclusive, nicely bracketed by 1940 and 1950 mit Schnee. That’s 9, not 8, making the record 12.5% longer without really trying.

    Snowy or not, I wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Pierre and family – and likewise to all visitors. Keep up the Good Work!

  4. /dev/null

    Meanwhile I enjoy snowless X-Mass in Dortmund. I hope not to see any signs of the Winter…

  5. Graeme No.3

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Pierre and family – and likewise to all visitors, although sod can be miserable if he chooses.

  6. yonason

    Looking not at the snowfall variability of one locality, but of the entire Northern hemisphere.
    Hard to spot any trend there, eh sod?

    1. sod

      “Hard to spot any trend there, eh sod?”

      good link. Could it be, that winter snow cover is not a good proxy to contradict a warming world?

      Higher temperature might lead to more snowfall events and massive snowfalls followed by fast melting might lead to high averages, which people might notice as being different than the snow in the past was.

      1. yonason
  7. John F. Hultquist

    Many folks tend not to be aware of the fact that weather has a bias. That is, tomorrow’s weather is much more likely to be like today’s than it is to be like that last June 23rd. This seems to happen with longer term (even years) episodes. The remembrances of weather problem is compounded because of the decision to tally and report “normal” weather as the most recent 30-year period ending with a zero. [Examples: 1951-1980, or 1981-2010] I don’t remember weather prior to about 1953. However, my mother (many times) would push us outside to play in the snow. We were not to complain for she would hold her hand about belt level and tell us that when she was our age the “the snow came up to here.” It took awhile, but we finally caught on.

    Now, for 2 years the upper-Midwest of the USA had sever cold winters. Out west we were short of snow. Currently, they are have a warm period and we are being buried in snow. The only odd thing is the climate models say we should be having rain, not snow, and not much of it. Local ski places will have a good season if the Department of Transportation can keep the roads open.

    Okay, back to colored Christmas trees. The US has national dementia. Read this:

    School bans pink ‘Hello Kitty’ Christmas tree

  8. sod

    ” The only odd thing is the climate models say we should be having rain, not snow, and not much of it. Local ski places will have a good season”

    That is plain out false. A warmer climate will have more rain but also more snow in WINTER. It is winter (and cold) by definition.

    Ski resorts do not need an occasional good winter or massive snowfalls that melt away quickly in the next week. They need constant high snow and constant cold weather.

    It is not just by chance, that many ski resorts have joined the climate movement.

    1. yonason

      “A warmer climate will have more rain but also more snow in WINTER.” – sod

      Good thing they predicted that, so we could confirm it as supporting evidence for AGW.

      Oh, wait, they didn’t, did they. In fact what they actually said was. “Children Won’t know what snow is”

      And the deceit keeps getting deeper and deeper and deeper…

    2. DirkH

      Climate models also say the troposphere should be warming faster than the surface.

      Which lead to a decade of witchhunting by the climate scientists against the weather balloon data. After all, observations HAVE to be false if the COMPUTER says something different.

      The climate scientists have unfortunately given up making utter fools of themselves and just refuse to talk about the tropospheric hot spot that exists in their models but not in reality. The journaliars also never mention it.

      The warmunist movement tries to ignore its way out of it while trying to continue their global Machtergreifung.

      I don’t think that’ll work.

  9. John F. Hultquist

    I live in Washington State. A friend is the manager of an irrigation district. He speaks with State and National people about irrigation, usage, storage, and the climate forecasts. He operates on what he hears and reads about future “water storage” in the snow-pack. He more or less has to because it is official State and National policy. I don’t argue with him because he is a pawn in the implementation of State and National funding. He and others are working toward solving irrigation needs in a future climate where precipitation in their catchment basins falls more as liquid and less as solid. That is, they have been told to expect warmer temperatures and less snow. Money is being spent to plan for this uncertain future.

    You write: “It is winter (and cold) by definition.

    This is utter nonsense. It is generally colder, but cold is a relative term. The reasons the Cascade Mountains get so much snow is because most of the time the air comes from the Pacific Ocean and carries that moisture. Flows from the SW are often warmer and wetter. Flows from the NW are cooler and less wet, but still carry much moisture. In either case, the fetch is long. Those streams of air and the complex topography [Look up ‘orographic precipitation’ and ‘cold air damming’.] make for episodic periods of different precipitation events. Last year in December there was 20 inches of snow. This year there has been 12 feet. That’s what I mean by episodic. Mt. Baker set a record in the 1998-99 season with 1,140 inches. Mt. Rainer/Paradise received 1,122 inches in 1971-72. Did global warming cause this?
    This episodic weather has zilch, zero, nada to do with CO2 and global warming. It has been the pattern here for thousands of years.

    They need constant high snow and constant cold weather.

    To some extent there is some truth in that. However, too much snow causes problems, such as how to keep operating when roads are closed and avalanches bury people and facilities. Constant cold ruins the fun and keeps folks away. Very cold is usually not a problem in the Cascades – air from over the Ocean makes it so. This afternoon, on the ski slopes, the temperature is near Zero Celsius (~ 31° F.)

    1. yonason

      @ John F. Hultquist


      “A warmer climate will have more rain” – sod

      Contrast that with what the warmunists he’s defending really say.

      “A warmer climate causes more droughts.” – warmunists

      Just as they are fraudulently mutilating the temperature record, so they are fraudulently perverting the record on precipitation.

      In reality the “cooler” past was far far worse.


      1. John F. Hultquist

        Yes, exactly regarding the “warmunists” link. Thanks. sod makes too many errors for one person to explain how and where he goes wrong.

        I’ve been reading ‘stevengoddard’ – now using his real name Tony Heller – for several years. He is fast at finding reports from many years ago to counter folks that report a weather event as confirmation of global warming. Search his site using the term ‘ moron ‘ for a list of these types of posts.
        For today his title is “Christmas Eve 1955 Was Much Warmer”

      2. sod

        ““A warmer climate causes more droughts.””

        Please look at the graphs at the bottom of your link:


        Some places get drought, some get more rain/snow.

        It doesn t even contradict each other at the same place. Melting glaciers mean faster melting, even when we get more snow. So we might get the strange situation, that we have more snow at some points during winter, but all of it melts fast and we could still get drought in late summer (which slow and constant melting from a glacier would stop happening).

        PS: What Goddard does, is simply horrible. Random newspaper reports from random places at random times show absolutely nothing. I think he is doing a bad service for you, because it is so obviously wrong!

  10. John F. Hultquist


  11. sod

    Merry Christmas, from a rather green south Germany.

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