Eastern Europe and Ukraine: Cold intensifies

While more than two million Ukrainians have already fled their country, a cold wave is sweeping through Eastern Europe this weekend, which should further complicate the catastrophic humanitarian situation. But on the military front, a terrible “thaw,” that is, the thawing of frozen soils, will not occur due to a too mild winter.

[Actualisation du jeudi 10 mars] As expected, temperatures dropped sharply this morning with the arrival of cold weather from Russia. This is a dry runny nose. In eastern Ukraine, temperatures reached -10°C in places. Note that many weather stations in this country no longer transmit readings, but there are still automatic stations whose data are available via the Internet.


Cold snap in Russia


The anticyclone, which has now engulfed Eastern Europe, is accompanied by dry and very cold air for this time of year, which descends from Russia towards the Black Sea. Since Monday morning, values ​​from -20°C to -35°C have been recorded over Russia, that is, about 10°C below the norm. Otherwise, the temperature remained more moderate and uniform in Central Europe (between -5° and -15°C depending on the countries bordering Russia). From this Wednesday morning in Ukraine, the temperature starts to drop and should be between -10°C and -12°C in the following nights until the weekend. Dry cold without significant snowfall.


This drop in temperature is not good news and will exacerbate the already enormous hardship faced by thousands of people fleeing their country, as well as those who have chosen to stay in housing without water, electricity and heating due to the bombing.




Severe dry frosts in Ukraine until the weekend


The drop in temperatures is associated with a current directed to the east in the northeastern sector. This is the wind we felt even in France earlier in the week. However, it looks like this cold snap will be slightly less severe than feared last week, as the frost will remain mostly on the Russian side. Since Monday, it has become colder in the east of the continent, the temperature sometimes drops by 8°C below average, as, for example, in Ukraine. Usually it is dry air, which, however, will bring snow to the shores of the Black Sea. In Ukraine and Kyiv, where the mercury column currently fluctuates between -4°C in the morning and 0°C in the afternoon, values ​​will fall between -12°C and -4°C at the end of the week, i.e. up to 12°C below normal, which would be difficult to live with in wartime conditions.






There will be no terrible “thaw”


During times of war, weather conditions play a key role in the conduct of military operations, whether on the ground or in the air. As for the condition of the soil, in the cold continental countries of Central Europe and Russia, a phenomenon called “thaw” occurs in the spring. The term refers to the springtime thaw of frozen ground, turning fields and country roads into vast, muddy terrain in which troops and tanks can become bogged down. There has been no shortage of examples in history, from Napoleon to World War II.


On this occasion, our colleagues from Figaro write: “thaw”. This term, which translates as “bad road season”, refers to the period of the year during which most of the plain turns into a real sea of ​​\u200b\u200bmud under the influence of melting snow and thawing soil. This usually happens in the second half of March, and its duration varies from two to three months, depending on the amount of snow accumulated during the winter.


But this year, the winter in Ukraine has remained mild compared to the usual climate. While night frosts were frequent, daytime temperatures in January and February were mostly positive. Thus, these conditions were not severe enough to freeze the ground to a depth. In addition, rain and snow have remained infrequent, so that the area is not flooded, frozen, or even covered in snow. The current cold will certainly cause surface frosts in the coming days, but not enough to cause a “thaw” worthy of the name.



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