This year, the climatical late winter was five times shorter than the average, lasting for only four days. Over the long run, even this is not a record, however.
The State Weather Service (Riigi ilmateenistus) noted that fixing the starting times of late winter and spring is difficult and subjective during "soft" winters. In the interest of data processing, the winter season is still delineated, however. The winter season covers the period in the middle of winter with the longest time of snow cover and cold weather.
According to this definition, the start of winter is considered to be the start of the period where snow cover and alongside that, increased cold weather frequency, predominates. Following this logic, this year's winter period so far spanned four days, February 26-29.
However, is still not a record. The shortest winter in Estonian recorded history lasted for half that time - two days, with the earliest spring period arriving in Vilsandi and Sõrve on December 6, 1998.
While this years' winter was 2.5C warmer than average, the record wasn't broke in this area either; the winter of 1961-1962 was even warmer.
A book on the topic, "Estonian climate in the past and today" ("Eesti kliima minevikus ja tänapäeval") states that over the observed periods, the start of early winter has shifted two weeks later. The same goes for late winter. At the same time, the recent changes are not a reliable indicator, due to great volatility. All in all, the length of late winter has shortened significantly, in most observation stations, to 26 days at most weather stations.
According to the research paper written by doctoral student at the University of Tartu Birgit Viru, together with professor Jaak Jaagus, the number of days with snow cover in Estonia has decreased since 1950, by 27 days on average, across the country. The average thickness of the snow cover decreased 2-9 cm within the same time frame.
Editor: Roberta Vaino