Region sees less snow, more rain and gray days than usual
The Associated Press, ,March. 4, 2008
Winter ended before it started in
"It's the warmest winter ever" recorded, said John Ekwall of the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute.
In December, January and February, the average temperature in
Record winter highs were set at 12 other locations across the country, according to the national weather service, SMHI.
Across the Baltic Sea,
Southern Finland had only 20 days of snow, compared to 70 days normally, while neighboring
"I don't remember winter like this. We had almost no snow at all in February," said Merike Merilain, chief weather forecaster at
"It's been emotionally very stressful, especially to many older people, that it's dark and rainy all the time," she added.
Experts are careful not to blame global warming, noting that a warm winter could be followed by a cold one.
Warm Atlantic surface temps cited
The Finnish Meteorological Institute said the mild winter partly resulted from strong southerly and westerly air currents caused by exceptionally warm surface temperatures of the
Nevertheless, the higher temperatures have only fueled concern that greenhouse gasses are changing the climate, especially in the sensitive Arctic region.
"When we were young, back in the '80s, then winter existed," said Ronny Ahlstedt, 28, who works at an outdoor ice-skating rink in downtown
In areas normally covered in snow and ice, spring-like temperatures have brought premature sightings of flowers such as winter aconite, snowdrops, wood anemone, daffodils and coltsfoot.
Migratory birds have returned from southern latitudes prematurely. In southern
"The birds that have stayed are robins and chaffinches," said biologist Lars-Ake Janzon at the
The warm weather also has stirred life inside the vast forests of the Nordic and Baltic countries, where insects such as ants and ticks emerged early from winter shelter.
For businesses, the mild weather has been a mixed blessing.
The express ferries between
Railway traffic is also being helped by the warmth. More than 90 percent of all trains this winter have been on time or less than five minutes late, according to the Finnish state railway, VR.
"Hard frosts and heavy blizzards have always been a bane of rail traffic. This winter has been punctuated by their absence," VR spokesman Herbert Mannerstrom said.
For winter sports enthusiasts, the green winter has been a nightmare. Small ski resorts around
"There's not one millimeter of ice," said Anders Tysk, organizer of the annual Vikingarannet ice-skating race on
"It's the first time we've canceled since we introduced flexible dates in 2003," he said.
The French weather service, Meteo
The cold, however, is making a late comeback in some areas.
"It's been a long time coming. It's only the second time this year that we've been able to get out there," said 13-year-old Timo, who only gave his first name.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.