France: top of the coldest and snowiest Christmases

    France: top of the coldest and snowiest Christmases

    By Gilles MATRICON, meteorologist

    This Christmas 2020 is characterized by a fairly cold weather, the “coldest” for 10 years while the general trend is for Christmases more and more mild … A little flashback showing us that some Christmases have experienced a truly freezing cold !

    To illustrate these cold Christmases, Toulouse and Paris served as reference cities.

    Christmas without thaw

    Christmas Eve 1962 was the coldest of the 20th century in France with -15 ° in Bordeaux, -10 ° in Biarritz and -6 ° C in Paris and Toulouse. More generally, the 1962/1963 winter was the most severe of the 20th century over France. This cold continued without interruption from mid-November to the beginning of March.

    At Christmas 1938, the maximum temperature had not exceeded -2.7 ° C in Paris and -2.4 ° C in Toulouse. Christmas days without thaws are rare in the plains. There were 9 in Paris between 1900 and 2015. The last dates from 1996 when the maximum did not exceed 0 ° C: the cold snap of December 1996 remains one of the most severe of the last 20 years.

    The last period of cold and white Christmas in the plains dates back to 2010. That year, the snowfall took place between December 19 and 22, but the grounds remained snowy from the Paris basin to the Belgian border until January 1 2011. In Toulouse, only 4 Christmases have not experienced any thaw, the most recent of which dates back to 2006 with -1.5 ° C.

    Comparable weather situations

    These Christmases without thaw are closely linked to invasions of Siberian air. The presence of continental air causes the temperature to plunge, especially when the ground is snowy, which accentuates the loss of heat. This is what happened in 1962. During the night of Christmas Eve, the starry sky favored a strong radiation and accentuated the drop in temperature as much as the ground was snow-covered.

    Snowy Christmases in the plains are increasingly rare

    We have to go back to Christmas 2010 to find traces of snow in the plains for Christmas. In the past, the frequency of snowy Christmases was more important. But since the beginning of the 1990s, snowy episodes in the plains have become rare due to the ongoing climate change.

    Also find the top of the sweetest Christmases in France.

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