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‘It feels like summer’: Record winter heat felt throughout Europe

Jan 04, 2023


Just days after a major winter storm killed dozens in the United States, Europe headed into 2023 with record heat. The warmth has been felt across the continent, with Budapest, Hungary recording its warmest Christmas Eve ever.

Parts of France also set records heading into 2023, with the Southwest portion reaching nearly 80 degrees on New Year’s Day. Similar temperatures were seen at Bilbao airport in Spain.

“It always rains a lot here, it’s very cold and it’s January and it feels like summer,” Bilbao resident Eusebio Folgeira said. French tourist Joana Host, who was recently visiting Bilbao, added “It’s nice weather for biking but we know it’s like the planet is burning. So we’re enjoying it but at the same time we’re scared.”

While some are taking advantage of the record winter heat in Europe, others are hurting. This includes European ski resorts, which are typically popular this time of year, but have been left empty and without snow.

“Bookings are sharply reduced, and this is forcing us to lower our prices and cut down the number of staff, so business is very tough and uncertain,” Aldin Maglic, a hotel owner on Bosnia’s Mt. Vlasic, said. Dino Korugic, manager of a different Mt. Vlasic hotel, added “Right now, when we should be welcoming skiers on our mountain, we have no snow so there is no doubt that our business will falter.”

Scientists have not yet analyzed the specific ways in which climate change affected the recent high temperatures. It follows another year of extreme weather events that scientists concluded were directly linked to global heating, including other European heatwaves and flooding in Pakistan.

“We expect extreme weather from time to time but I think there is a link with climate change here because climate change is making these extremes more frequent and making heat waves more intense,” Climate scientist Peter Scott said. “It’s really striking what we’re seeing across Europe at the moment and it’s showing us the vulnerability we have, even in relatively wealthy parts of the world.”

A silver lining with the record winter heat is an easing strain on Europe’s gas supply. Russia has slashed gas deliveries to Europe, leaving the continent scrambling to find enough fuel to heat homes in the winter.

Gas demand has fallen for heating in many countries, helping to reduce prices. The benchmark front-month gas price was trading at 70.25 euros per megawatt hour on Wednesday morning, its lowest level since last February.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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