Why Filomena Causes The Heaviest Snowfall In Years In Madrid
Meteorology

Why Filomena causes the heaviest snowfall in years in Madrid despite climate change

Global warming does not imply that there are no heavy snowfalls; on the contrary, it encourages extreme weather episodes like Filomena.

Nevada in the Avenida de Filipinas, in Madrid.

Some deniers have already made their own deduction: if we are immersed in a process of global warming, that the world is determined to fight, how is it possible that snowfalls are taking place in Madrid that had not been seen in decades?

But Filomena is not here to agree with Trump’s supporters, but to take them back. because global warming can affect the frequency and intensity of the extreme weather episodes, as explained in the weather information portal eltiempo.es.

The atmospheric setting about Spain has been the key so that this storm has had such a huge impact and has generated these historic snowfalls that have not been seen for many years in the center of the country, with maximum level warnings (red) in several regions of the center and the east.

The Filomena storm is a storm of atlantic origin. The system associated with this low pressure center was already loaded with relatively warm and very humid air before reaching Spain, so intense precipitation was guaranteed with its presence. But to know why there have been such heavy snowfalls and at such low levels, in areas where it is very unusual to see flakes fall, it is necessary to look back at what happened days ago in our country.

Since the beginning of the year we have been under the influence of a very cold air mass, of polar origin which has caused temperatures to be below normal even taking into account that they are usually the coldest days of the year.

The presence of this cold air with abnormally low temperatures has been aor of the key ingredients for the episode to have left such extreme weather, since it is necessary for low temperatures to occur in the different layers of the atmosphere for it to snow.

Another of the determining factors, apart from the origin of the storm, is the trajectory it has followed. It reached the Iberian Peninsula from the extreme southwest, placing its center in this area of ​​the country on Friday. Due to the circulation of the air around the storms, when located at this point it has been blowing moist air from the Mediterranean towards the center of the country, thus «feeding» the clouds so that greater amounts of precipitation were generated in the form of snow and, therefore, more striking and unusual thicknesses were given.

Without a doubt, the storm of Filomena is about an episode of extreme weather in our country. It has been exceptional and of special relevance due to its intensity and because it has been years since there has been such an important storm in terms of the extension of the affected areas and the amounts of accumulated snow.

Climate change can affect the frequency and intensity of the extreme weather episodes and, we know, for example, that extremely hot temperatures are becoming more frequent, but what happens with the heavy snowfall and cold snaps? How is it possible that this has happened in Spain if there is global warming?

When we say there is global warming we mean that the average temperature of the planet is increasing, something that is already happening and will continue to happen in the coming decades, mainly due to the action of man on the planet. At the same time, extreme temperature events will continue to occur, both warm and cold, although with a higher average temperature, more warm and less cold events could occur.

In order to know what “fault” or part of the responsibility is climate change of the occurrence of a meteorological event there are the so-called attribution studies that scientists do afterwards.

Filomena’s case may be analyzed once it is over, but what we do know is that snowfalls like the one left by this storm are very rare and it had been a long time since something like this happened in our country.

Knowing that climate change is a reality, the return period of episodes like this could increase, that is, due to climate change, it could take more years until such a situation can be repeated.