Frigid air, spilling south from the Arctic, has invaded Europe and Alaska, setting back spring and challenging long-standing records.
In Europe, the cold has come as a shock, gripping the region just days after a burst of summerlike warmth. Some areas that experienced their warmest March weather on record last week are now enduring the coldest April weather observed. Switzerland and Slovenia both established record low temperatures for April on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the temperature in Alaska could plummet as low as -50 in the coming days, challenging the lowest mark recorded in the Last Frontier during April. As an Arctic cold front plunged south Monday into Tuesday, temperatures tanked over much of Europe. By Wednesday morning, numerous locations in Central and Eastern Europe saw the mercury settle at April record lows.
Slovenia endured its lowest April temperature on record, according to ARSO, Slovenia’s meteorological agency. It tweeted that the mercury plummeted to-5.1 degrees (minus-20.6 Celsius) in Nova vas na Blokah, a village in the central part of the country.
Météo-Suisse, Switzerland’s meteorological agency, tweeted the temperature toppled to minus-15.3 degrees (minus-26.3 Celsius) at Jungfraujoch, a tourist attraction 11,362 feet high in the Alps and home to Europe’s highest-elevation train station. It was the lowest temperature on record in April anywhere in the country. It also tweeted that a weather balloon measured a temperature of minus-38.4 degrees (minus-39.1 Celsius) at an altitude of roughly 17,388 feet (5,300 meters), the lowest recorded in April in Switzerland.
Frosty conditions covered much of France early Wednesday, where numerous locations observed their lowest April temperature on record, according to Météo-France, the country’s meteorological agency. The low temperature averaged over the country was below freezing, near the coldest levels on record (since 1947) in early April.
In the Italian Alps, near the border with Switzerland, the temperature fell to minus-27.8 degrees (minus-33.2 Celsius), the coldest on record in April, according to Etienne Kapikian, a meteorologist with Météo-France.
Several locations in Croatia experienced their lowest-observed temperatures in April, according to Kapikian. Maximiliano Herrera, who tracks global temperature extremes, tweeted that the low temperature of 10.4 degrees (minus-12 Celsius) in Gospic, a town in the central Croatia, marked the lowest April temperature on record in a populated location in the country.
The United Kingdom had its coldest April night (Tuesday night into early Wednesday) since 2018 while, in England, it was the coldest since 2013, according to the U.K. Met Office.
In addition to the cold, many parts of Europe saw snow, with images of a fresh coating from Belgrade to Brussels to Munich to Copenhagen.
The extreme cold and snow come just one week after a historic pulse of warmth to end March. The Netherlands, France, Belgium and Luxembourg all established record high temperatures for the month. In Slovenia, the temperature surged to 77.5 degrees (25.3 Celsius) on March 31 only to tumble to minus-5.1 degrees eight days later.
The anomalous cold covering Europe presently is forecast to retreat over Central and Eastern Europe in the next few days, but chilly weather may linger in Western Europe from Spain into the U.K.
While much of North America has been mild in recent days, a deep freeze has overtaken Alaska, bringing record low temperatures.
On Tuesday, Bettles and Fairbanks plunged to record lows of minus-33 and minus-24, but the forecast is for even colder temperatures in the days ahead.
The most extreme cold is anticipated Friday into Saturday as a lobe of the polar vortex over the Arctic Ocean north of Utqiagvik, Alaska’s northernmost city, drops south.
“This cold airmass aloft will produce record or near record cold temperatures over much of the Interior Friday and into the weekend,” wrote the National Weather Service forecast office in Fairbanks in a discussion.
The temperature in Fairbanks is forecast to drop to minus-30 Friday night into Saturday morning, while some areas could approach minus-50, close to the state record for April, according to Rick Thoman, a climate specialist with the University of Alaska at Fairbanks.
The cold air is predicted to retreat next week, with relatively balmy highs into the 30s in Fairbanks on Monday and Tuesday.
The pockets of cold over Europe and Alaska, while noteworthy, are exceptions to the warmer-than-average weather prevailing over much of the Northern Hemisphere. The temperature averaged over the entire hemisphere Wednesday was 1.6 (0.9 Celsius) degrees above the 1979-2000 average.