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Estonian meteorologist: First three months of 2024 promise to be wintry

Kids sledding at the snowy Song Festival Grounds in Tallinn.
Kids sledding at the snowy Song Festival Grounds in Tallinn. Source: Martin Dremljuga/ERR

If Estonia gets more snow, then January, February and March look to be very wintry months indeed, meteorologist Taimi Paljak said in an appearance on Vikerraadio's "Vikerhommik" on Monday morning, adding that the next cold snap may lie ahead come mid-month.

"I dare not say we've seen this winter's coldest weather yet," Paljak said. "Winter may still have more up its sleeve. I think we'll be seeing more extremely cold weather. What made last week's cold different was that it was so windy, and that made the cold especially piercing."

She noted that looking up weather forecasts on your phone or computer, the line of figures there can change even several times a day.

"That's because weather models and supercomputers are constantly calculating," she explained. "But that now is one calculation. We moreso follow the ensemble forecast, which means that several calculations are made based on one day or calculation. I checked back, and on December 25, such bitterly cold weather hadn't yet been predicted, but on December 26, the trend appeared already toward colder weather."

According to the meteorologist, weather models typically don't forecast such cold weather so far in advance. "You can look at the trends – whether and how much the temperature will drop – but weather models don't typically give us temperature lows."

She said that there's nothing unusual in such cold weather for a high-pressure system to park itself over the country and be so powerful that not a single low-pressure system can oust it.

"There's nothing unusual about a very deep freeze lasting eight, ten days," Paljak said. "What's more unusual this time is that this change will come quickly – we'll be seeing temperatures slightly above freezing, start to thaw, and then pretty soon it will get cold again, and then we'll see yet another thaw – and that isn't very typical."

She pointed out that people can certainly feel the difference – that if it's 10-15 degrees Celsius below zero but winds are calm, then the cold isn't even very noticeable, but as soon as you bring wind into the mix, that cuts through clothes and cools the skin as well, and that effect is noticeable indeed.

"Winds out of the east and northeast are the coldest in Estonia, as they are blowing from the direction of the great Eurasian continent, and the air over this vast continent has clearly been able to cool down to very low temperatures already by January, and with winds like that, we don't have the softening effect of the Baltic Sea," Paljak explained.

"If we do get more snow here, then there's hope that we'll have lovely white wintry months in January, February and March," Paljak predicted. "It's typical of this century that March, albeit a spring month already, is still very much wintry. So the way things are currently looking, winter will be continuing and taking even sharper turns, and we may see more severe cold after January 15."


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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