Official weather offices report that April mean temperatures were colder than normal across Central Europe.
According to the preliminary results for April, 2017, from Germany’s DWD national weather service, the month came in at a mean temperature of 7.5°C for the central European country, or 0.8°C colder than the 1981-2010 mean of 8.3°C. This makes the month completely NOT in line with the warming that Germany’s DWD expects.
After a record warm March, the DWD wrote in its March report that it was all expected as part of climate change. For April they made no mention of global warming, citing weather patterns.
The DWD wrote that in April “drought, snow and reoccurring frosts” placed a “considerable burden on the the plant world“. In the southern Black Forest region, especially in Singen and Buchenbach, new record lows were set for April. Nationwide April’s low temperature was set in Oberstdorf: -10.1 °C.
Meanwhile Alps-dominated of Austria saw it’s coldest April in 9 years – and the coldest in the current decade, according to the preliminary April results form the Austrian ZAMG national weather service.
New cold temperature records for the second half of April were set at the airports in Graz and Innsbruck at -5.5 °C and -4.4 °C respectively.
“Extreme” snow amounts
Although frosty temperatures and snow are not unusual in April, the ZAMG writes that the new snow amounts on April 19 and 20 were in part very unusual, especially in the area im Gebiet of the Ybbstaler Alps and extending to the Wienerwald. For example in Lunz am See (612 m) it snowed 65 cm within 24 hours. That would be an extremely high value even for an entire winter month. On April 20 there was 86 cm of snow on the ground in Lunz am See. This has never happened in the second half of April since measurements began in 1896.
The ZAMG reports that the severe late April cold snap caused “widespread frost damage” to many fruit plants.
Meteo Suisse has not yet released it’s preliminary April report, as this is done typically around the 10th of the following month. But media reports show that the late April cold and frost did not spare Switzerland or northern Italy.
Bitter cold and crop destruction occurred in hard hit Switzerland. According to the online NZZ here, as a cold wave in the second half of April “caused great damage to fruit and vineyards in large parts of Switzerland“.
“Nightmare” for Italian vineyards
The cold wave also hit Italy’s farmers at a bad time, the NZZ reports, as some regions saw temperatures fall below zero and was accompanied by by icy winds. Frost destroyed the early white budding grape varieties such as the Chardonnay, Sauvignon and Pinot grigio. Also red grape sorts such as Cabernet and Merlot were hit, the NZZ reports.
The NZZ characterized the the vineyard damage as dramatic in the regions of Val d’Aosta and Friuli Venezia Giulia, where it reports that “many crops froze”.
In Piemont foremost in the region around Asti and Barolo there was heavy damage. In Lombardy the provinces of Padua, Mantua and Modena are hard hit.”
Here in the Lower Saxony flatlands of northern Germany, I had to keep sensitive garden plants covered overnight on at least 4 occasions over the second half of April.