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Climate crisis For Members

How global warming is changing the weather in Austria

Amanda Previdelli
Amanda Previdelli - [email protected]
How global warming is changing the weather in Austria
Severe storms wreak havoc in Austria (Photo by Jonas Kaiser on Unsplash)

Extreme weather events have marked almost every month of 2023 in Austria. Experts say this will be the new norm. Here's what the weather could look like in the future.

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Heavy rain, storms, hail, and severe weather events set to intensify and become more common are among the key findings of Austria's new Climate Status Report

"Heavy rain, storms and hail are no longer exceptional events and cause millions in damage. In future, we must join forces even more in the fight against climate change and take effective measures to counteract it", said Astrid Eisenkopf,  Deputy Governor of Burgenland and Chairwoman of the Provincial Climate Protection Conference.

These events, which caused significant damage in 2023, are projected to become more commonplace, potentially transforming Austria's weather patterns into a year-round barrage of extremes.

If 2023 repeats itself, here's what a year could look like regarding the weather in Austria.

READ ALSO: Vast Vienna wastewater heat pumps showcase EU climate drive

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January to April

According to the Climate Report, heavy snowfall dominated the weather in January last year. Austria could experience erratic snowfall patterns that disrupt the transportation and tourism industries. In February, storms and strong gusts of wind caused trees to topple. 

In April, late frosts hit the country, affecting the production of fruit trees. 

READ ALSO: What you should know to stay safe in the mountains

May to August

Spring months could be marked by torrential downpours, which could lead to flash floods and overwhelm existing infrastructure already burdened by glacial melt.

According to the report, these months last year saw numerous thunderstorms, with heavy rain, squalls, and hail sweeping across the country. Permafrost thawing caused landslides in Austria, which is set to become more common.

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August is the peak summer month in Austria, and it also sees extreme storms and heatwaves. Last year, massive rainfall in the south of Austria caused countless damages, including flooding, mudslides, and landslides, as well as high lake and groundwater levels. In Carinthia, people had to be evacuated in 66 of 132 municipalities.

READ ALSO: Europe could soon face 'nearly 100,000 deaths a year linked to extreme heat'

In Styria, 280 landslides occurred due to the days of rainfall. Almost 1,000 fire departments and 16,000 firefighters were deployed more than 6,000 times. In total, damage amounting to over 100 million euros was recorded from August 3rd to 6th.

Four heatwaves occurred over the course of the year, two of which lasted an unusually long time, lasting up to 18 days (July) and 16 days (August).

READ ALSO: How is Vienna planning to deal with heatwaves?

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September to December

The report shows that September and October will go down as the "warmest autumn" in recorded history. 

The sun shone for an average of 1,605 hours over the year. At 1,275 mm, the Austrian average precipitation over the year was 21 percent higher, so it was hot and rained a lot. 

Several new state records were set for precipitation totals, especially in November and December. The year ended with the storm "Zoltan," which damaged roofs, caused power outages, and blocked roads and rail links in almost all parts of the country.

 "The 2023 climate assessment shows that it is necessary to adapt as well as possible to the existing and expected future impacts.", said Herbert Formayer, scientific director of the report and professor at the Institute of Meteorology and Climatology (BOKU).

READ ALSO: How to protect yourself during storm season in Austria

He added: "Not only the extent of the damage but also the risk potential for the population is increasing. Unfortunately, we saw this far too often last year: people who were in distress had to be evacuated or were cut off from their drinking water supply. 

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'Adaptation measures and climate protection are an absolute must and urgently needed, not only for agriculture and forestry, which are severely affected by extreme weather but also for the security of supply for the population."

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