9 Freaky Phenomena Revealing How Warm This Winter Was

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A person skis past empty chair lifts and a patch of grass at a ski resort that has had to close a number of slopes because of a lack of snow,
Large parts of Japan are dealing with the warmest winter since records began, causing a lack of snow in areas that are usually blanketed.

Carl Court / Getty Images

In many part of the world, the 2019-2020 winter was the winter that wasn't.

Here in New York City, I keep waiting for winter to happen ... and now it is, checks calendar, March! There were no spells of bitter days, and hardly a speck of snow. Sure enough, this winter the city tied its second-lowest snow total on record, to the great dismay of schools kids across the boroughs.

Meteorological winter is comprised of December, January, and February – and so now that it's over, weather experts are trying to sum up what just happened. Here are some of the more telling events from around the globe of the winter that wasn't.

1. Helsinki had no snow in January or February for the first time on record

All together, the Nordic capital saw a mere 0.2 centimeters of snow for the entire winter. Everyday in January was above freezing in January; the average January high is 30 degrees (minus-1.1 Celsius) and the typical January low is 20 degrees (minus-6.7 Celsius).

“The lack of snow and the warmth is really unheard of,” Mika Rantanen, a research meteorologist at the Finnish Meteorological Institute, told The Post. “Monthly records were not just broken, they were shattered with large margins.”

2. Moscow required artificial snow for New Year’s celebrations

Moscow had its warmest winter in two centuries of record-keeping; it was the first winter to have an average temperature above freezing. The Washington Post writes that Moscow's average temperature during meteorological winter was 32.3 degrees Fahrenheit (0.2 Celsius), "which is 11.3 degrees (6.3 Celsius) above the 1981-2010 average, and shatters the previous record held by the winter of 1960-61 by an astonishing 3.5 degrees (2.8 Celsius)." The warm temperatures combined with a snow drought meant that officials had to bring in fake snow to create an ersatz wintery wonderland for New Year's.

3. France had its warmest winter on record

The average temperature in France this winter was above the normal average by a balmy 4.86 degrees Fahrenheit (2.7 Celsius).

4. So warm that a French ski resort had to import snow using helicopters

At the Luchon-Superbagnères ski resort in the French Pyrenees (photo top), they decided to use helicopters to bring in 50 tonnes of snow to cover the hills and keep the resort open.

5. Antarctic temperature rose above 68 degrees (20 celsius) for first time on record

Brazilian scientists noted the record high on February 9 on Seymour Island. “We are seeing the warming trend in many of the sites we are monitoring, but we have never seen anything like this,” Carlos Schaefer, a Brazilian government scientist who studies the Antarctic, told The Guardian.

6. An uncharted island even emerged from melting ice in Antarctica

Researchers sailing off the coast of the Pine Island Glacier ice shelf in Antarctica discovered a surprise: A small island – about 1,150 feet long and comprised of mostly granite – that had never been seen before. It was revealed as a retreating glacier slipped away, leaving the island behind. Live Science says the team named the uncharted outcropping Sif Island, after a Norse goddess associated with Earth.

7. Russian bears came out of hibernation in December

At Bolsherechensky Zoo, 1,700 miles east of Moscow, Dasha the bear and her bear colleagues burrowed out of their hay beds in December. “They probably decided that spring had come,” zoo spokeswoman Natalya Bolotova said. They eventually went back to bed, but still...

8. In Japan, it was even too warm for artificial snow

Daisen White Resort in Tottori, western Japan, had a little snow and 10 snowmaking machines to get them through December – but they had to shut in early January because it was so warm that even the fake snow melted on the slopes.

9. For the first time ever, Germany was unable to make ice wine

In Germany, the minimum temperature of 19 degrees Fahrenheit (-7 Celsius ) required for an ice wine harvest was not reached in any German wine region, said Ernst Büscher from the German Wine Institute.

“The 2019 vintage will go down in history here in Germany as the first vintage in which the ice wine harvest couldn’t be produced nationwide,” says Büscher. “If the warm winters continue in the next few years, ice wines from German wine regions will soon become even more of a rarity than they already are,”

How has winter been in your neck of the woods?