The changing of Alpine landscape
From 8 December 2021 to 30 March 2022, Piedmont did not experience significant rainfall for 111 days, so no rain or snow throughout the winter.
This was an exceptionl event, only surpassed by the winter of 1999, when there were 135 consecutive ‘dry’ days. The main cause of this situation was an anomalous and prolonged permanence of an anticyclone over Europe (usually associated with ‘good weather’), which caused a natural ‘blockade’ against the usual incursions of colder and wetter air from Atlantic Ocean or Arctic Circle, for more than three months.
Piemonte region - Italy
Extreme Rainfall Detection System (ERDS)
Days without precipitation
Years of multi-temporal analysis
Rainfall deficit in 2022
An unusual winter for Europe
This unusual weather conditions across Europe caused (almost) summery temperatures on the Norwegian fjords and heavy snowfall in Turkey. On a local scale, in Piemonte especially, the temperatures were moderate and there was a total absence of precipitation over the region. The worst affected areas were those in the plains, which were unable to benefit from the rare snowfalls on the Alps from Switzerland or France.
© Samuele Giatti, 2022
Monitoring snowfall to anticipate water crises
If there are multiple tools to monitor rainfall over a short timeframe, a long-term analysis – as for an entire season – requires less orthodox tools. Among these, the observation of snow accumulations in the Piedmont Alps in 2022 in relation to previous years proved particularly useful for an immediate and easily comprehensible visual representation. Our team thus created a web tool where snow accumulation data, collected through open source data, were made easily interpretable by the general public.
This tool was used to effectively illustrate the progressive reduction of snow accumulations in the Alps and – consequently – the shortage of water reserves for the summer months, well in advance of the actual occurrence of the crisis.