Temperatures, rain... Was the winter that bad?

A "relatively mild" and very dry winter

Temperatures, rain... Was the winter that bad?

A "relatively mild" and very dry winter. Météo-France publishes this Monday, March 6, its report on the meteorological winter, the period from December 1 to February 28. With 0.8 degrees on average than the seasonal norm (which corresponds to the average for the period 1991-2020), winter 2022-23 is similar to the two previous ones, but cooler than 2019-20, which still holds the record since the beginning of the measurements (2.3 degrees). It is still the sixth winter in a row with above-normal temperature: if these episodes already existed in the last century, they remained relatively rare.

There have been periods of cold, especially the first half of December and the second half of January. But the period from December 19 to January 15 was marked by "May-like temperatures", 2 to 7 degrees above the seasonal norm. With an average of 14 degrees in France (8 degrees above normal), December 31, 2022 was the third hottest day on record in a meteorological winter since 1947.

It was especially on the part of precipitation that the winter was difficult. It rained 25% less than normal, on average, which makes this winter the ninth least wet since the beginning of the measurements in 1959. In February, notes Météo-France, "the rainfall deficit exceeded 75%". France has also recorded a sequence of 32 consecutive days without significant rainfall, that is to say less than one millimeter on average per day over France. A meteorological drought record by its length, all seasons combined.

The lack of rain is all the more worrying as it comes after a year 2022 marked by a historic drought. The groundwater recharge period is soon coming to an end and the soils are far from having regained their usual humidity, despite precipitation "close to normal in November and January". At the end of February, the soil situation corresponds to the situation normally encountered in mid-April, Météo-France alert.

It is in the Pyrénées-Orientales that we have lacked the most rain this winter. In the department, where restrictions on water consumption are still in force since last summer, the level of soil humidity is even equivalent to the normal at the end of July! With -36% of precipitation compared to normal, Occitanie is the region with the most deficit this winter. Only Corsica was wetter than usual, with 17% more rain.

The results are hardly more positive in the mountains. The Pyrenees experienced a snow cover deficit this winter and, in the Alps, the snow cover is historically low for the beginning of March.