Undoubtedly, 2012 has seen some of the most extreme weather ever in the Balkans region. The year got off to a rough start, as blizzards at the beginning of January caused traffic disruptions and electricity, food and water supply issues. Snowdrifts of up to 3 meters (10 ft.) in height blocked more than 500 km of regional roads, prompting a state of emergency to be declared in parts of Serbia. Spans of very poor weather continued to occur throughout the month, leaving hundreds of households without power. The unprecedented amount of snow did some good only to the tourism industry.
February saw a further spread of snowfalls, with tens of thousands of people left completely cut off from the world. State of emergency was declared in entire Serbia. All schools in the country were closed for two weeks, as temperatures plunged to -30 °C (-22 °F), around 15 degrees below average. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, hundreds were left stranded on roads in a blizzard. Herzegovina region saw around half a meter (1.5 ft.) of snow, the largest amount in a century. Airports were closed down throughout the Balkans, with further problems in road, rail and river traffic. In Serbia, 22 people were reported to have lost their lives in the extreme cold.
The last week of February saw the situation in Serbia improve. The schools were reopened and the state of emergency was revoked. TGWF was told in an interview that the losses of Serbian economy due to the poor weather were estimated at around half a billion euros. The increase of temperatures, however, sparked a fear of floods. March saw the weather generally improve, with the only significant event being an unexpected blizzard in southwest Serbia because of which a bus was buried in snow.
April 1, however, saw yet another unusual weather event. Western Serbia, as well as parts of Croatia and Slovenia, saw snowfalls in mid-spring. While the amount of snow was not large enough to cause noticeable problems in towns and cities, rural areas, in which at the time some winter snow still remained, saw the situation deteriorate further. Even though the typical spring weather set in during the rest of the month, Croatian meteorologists said this April had been the warmest on record.
In the first week of May, Serbia experienced one of the warmest ever spells of weather in that time of year. Temperatures of up to 31 °C (88 °F) were classified as ‘significantly above the average’. The two-week warm spell ended abruptly, as the temperatures plummeted overnight by 15 to 20 degrees. The weather shift was accompanied with some heavy rain, which came after an extended period of dry weather. While the weather generally improved towards the end of the month, the last days of May saw extreme rain, and landspout, a form of tornado, was sighted in Belgrade.
Summer featured extreme weather too, with June declared the warmest in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 120 years, and the entire season the warmest on record in Serbia. A two-week heatwave at the beginning of July posed threat to crops and livestock, with the drought described as ‘strong to extreme’. The capital of Belgrade experienced 23 tropical nights (when temperatures exceed 25 °C/118 °F) in July, which is unprecedented. The final days of summer saw widespread wildfires, which left 16 people dead and 79 injured. Damage was estimated at around 30 million euros.
Fall was the only season which did not feature significant weather events in the Balkans this year. Temperatures remained mild and occasional rainfalls were recorded, but the measured values largely stayed within the average for the period.
Come December, the extreme weather returned. The beginning of the month saw some very heavy snow, up to half a meter (1.6 ft.) in parts of Serbia. The sudden snowfall caused an 11 km (6 mi) backup on a highway in the country’s north and people there were forced to spend a night in their cars. The Croatian capital of Zagreb saw the largest amount of snow in more than 50 years, while airports throughout the Balkans were closed down. Fortunately, weather returned to normal later on in the month.
Last week saw heavy snowfalls throughout the Balkans region. In Serbia, the north of the country was particularly badly hit with the winter weather. Nearly half a meter (1.6 ft) of snow was recorded in the town of Zrenjanin on Sunday. The snow, accompanied with strong winds, caused widespread traffic congestions. An 11 km (6 mi) backup was reported on Sunday on a highway in the Vojvodina region. The traffic there cleared only the following day, with hundreds of people forced to spend the freezing night in their cars. Several coaches were blocked too and it took multiple attempts to rescue them, as the visibility was reduced significantly due to the strong snow and wind. Lives of many children and elderly were under threat as well. While all major roads have now been cleared, snowfalls continue in parts of the country and secondary roads are still impassable, especially in southern Serbia, where strong winds have caused snowdrifts.
Croatian capital of Zagreb saw the largest amount of snow in more than half a century, with 45 cm (1.5 ft) measured on Saturday. Zagreb Airport was closed for several hours during that day, while road traffic throughout the country was slow-moving. Novosti daily reported on Sunday that at least 5 people had died of extreme cold in Croatia.
There were substantial snowfalls in Montenegro as well. The largest amount of snow – around 1 meter (3 ft) – was recorded on the Žabljak Mountain. Podgorica, the capital city, even saw a snowstorm, which is a very rare occurrence in that part of the country. The airport was closed, while rail traffic was delayed for hours. Electricity supply has now returned to normal, after most of the country was left without power for several hours.
The month of August has seen some of the warmest weather Serbia has had in decades – in fact, meteorologists say that this summer has been the warmest ever. Extremely high temperatures exceeding 40 °C (104 °F) caused extensive wildfires, which have destroyed tens of thousands of acres of forests and meadows. 16 people died, while 79 were injured during this summer’s wildfires. Mr Predrag Marić from the National Emergency Office has told the media that the estimated damage amounts up to 30 million euros. This has given rise to public debates on whether there are enough fire fighters in Serbia to cope with the ever increasing number of forest fires.
The very high temperatures accompanied by a severe drought have caused huge losses in agriculture as well. The vast majority of crops have been heavily affected by this summer’s rough weather, and that has resulted in extremely small amounts of wheat and corn produced in Serbia. The country relies heavily on agricultural production, and this year’s poor results will surely cause problems to its already troubled economy.
Fortunately, it seems that the weather is once again returning to normal. Maximum temperatures are now reaching approximately 30 °C (86 °F), while some precipitation has also been recorded. Although it won’t be of much help when it comes to the destroyed crops, it will at least be easier for people to go about their everyday duties
The last several days have seen the highest daily temperatures in Serbia drop to comfortable mid-twenties (generally 25-27 °C; 77-80 °F), following weeks of oppressive heat and drought. A heat wave, which began on 29 June and lasted until 15 July, caused the sharp rise of temperatures and the low amounts of precipitation. Last month’s weather has been classified as ’extremely warm’ throughout the country, with the mean monthly temperature of 27 °C (80 °F) significantly above the average – up to 6 degrees more than what is usual. The highest temperature was measured on 15 July in the town of Ćuprija in Central Serbia, amounting to sweltering 41.5 °C (107 °F).
According to the Serbian Hydrometeorological Office, this July was the warmest ever recorded. It saw record-breaking numbers of tropical days (when temperature exceeds 30 °C/86 °F) – 27 such days were recorded in parts of the country. Besides that, the Serbian capital of Belgrade, the largest urban area in the country, saw 23 tropical nights (temperature above 25 °C/77 °F), which is unprecedented.
The ‘strong to extreme’ month-long drought, induced by ever higher temperatures and very little or no precipitation, left many crops damaged. This has sparked fears among many here in Serbia, a country heavily relying on agriculture as one of the main sources of income. Fortunately, the last week of July saw some much needed rainfalls which improved the overall situation significantly, although parts of western and northern Serbia haven’t fully recovered.
The beginning of August was marked by the return of the very warm weather, with temperatures again reaching 40 °C (104 °F). However, by the end of the last week temperatures dropped significantly, even one or two degrees below the average for this time of the year. Still, no significant precipitation was recorded.
Unfortunately, the current spell of pleasant weather will only last briefly. According to forecasts, we will see the temperatures spike above 32 °C (90 °F) as soon as Thursday, signalling the return of the notorious tropical conditions.
Bosnia and Herzegovina saw very high mean daily temperatures during the last month. ‘There were no record-breaking daily temperatures in June, although it was very hot. However, the mean temperature in Sarajevo measured 22 degrees Centigrade, which is exceptionally high’, climatologist Željko Majstorović told the Serbian ‘Tanjug’ news agency. He also explained that is the warmest June on record – in other words, the warmest in the last 120 years. Mr Majstorović added that the following period is set to see the same high temperatures, with only some scattered rainfalls. ‘A rise in precipitation is expected in the second part of the month’, he said.
Meanwhile, other parts of the Balkans region have also been suffering from the oppressive heat. In Serbia, the heat wave forecast to last until 10 July has caused temperatures to spike up to 37 °C (98 °F) throughout the country. At the same time, certain internet commentators claim that they have measured temperatures as high as 42 °C (107 °F) in shade. Serbian media have also reported that the extremely warm weather poses a serious threat to crops, as well as livestock. Experts warn that unless we see some rain soon, this could result in severe economic consequences.
Other parts of Europe have also had some very warm weather. One such country is Italy, where temperatures have reached over 40 °C (104 °F) lately. At least four people are reported to have died there because of the heat. A state of emergency has been put into force in certain regions, while major cities have declared the red, (their highest danger level.) The situation is especially difficult for the victims of recent earthquakes in northern Italy. Many of them are now living in tents, inside which temperatures are as high as 50 °C (122 °F), ‘Tanjug’ news agency has reported.
The first day of summer has seen tropical weather in the entire Balkans region. Temperatures in Serbia have spiked up to 37° C (99° F), which is significantly above the average for this time of the year. The skies have largely stayed clear and sunny, while the situation in neighboring countries is nearly the same.
It should be taken into account that these temperatures were, as always, measured in shade. It has been reported that the values measured in sun have reached as much as 50 °C (122 °F) in parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Such high temperatures pose a serious threat to people’s health and doctors therefore warn that people should stay in their homes during the warmest part of the day, and take all the precautions if they need to go outside.
And still, this extremely warm weather doesn’t come as much of a surprise. For more than a week, temperatures in the region have exceeded normal values by up to 6 °C (10.8 °F), signaling the arrival of even warmer weather. Last week, the warmest day in Serbia was Saturday, with 34 °C (93 °F) in the city of Niš.
Fortunately, this weekend is set to see the heat die down, as showers are forecast across the region. Yet, only on Thursday next week the unseasonable temperatures will return, with weather very much resembling today’s.
Last week Serbia saw some of the warmest days this year. Temperatures were generally a few degrees above average for the season. Precipitation was mostly recorded during the first part of the week, and it stayed below the usual values for this time of the year. The warmest day was Sunday, when 32 °C (90 °F) was measured in the city of Kruševac – around 5 degrees above the average.
Monday’s weather remained largely the same, hot and dry throughout the country. Yet, Tuesday brought a marked shift in weather, with temperatures as low as 15 °C (59 °F). The drop in temperatures was followed by light rain and overcast skies. Forecasters say that we should expect another change in weather on Friday, when higher temperatures are likely to be seen.
The last week in Serbia saw the temperatures return to their usual values for this time of the year – around 20 °C (68 °F) in most places. At the same time, the amount of precipitation exceeded the season average. Rain was recorded on every day of the week, with western parts of the country most severely hit with downpours.
On Thursday, Serbian capital of Belgrade was struck with a landspout, a weaker form of tornado. Although almost insignificant compared to the tornados seen in North America, such storm is very rare in these areas. “The photo [we were shown] does show a landspout – this is a form of tornado, but it is weaker and affects a smaller area. It occurred as a part of a supercell moving above Belgrade towards the west”, said Ms. Aleksandra Arsić, a meteorologist in Serbian Meteorological Office. The accompanying storm that hit Belgrade caused heavy traffic jams, with many streets flooded and gridlocks formed on major roads.
The last time a tornado occurred in Serbia was in May 2010, in northern part of the country.
Following a sudden drop in temperatures and heavy downpours across the region, the last week saw a slight improvement of weather conditions in Serbia. Temperatures remained below average, bottoming out on Friday, when -2 °C (28 °F) was recorded on the Kopaonik mountain. Sunday was significantly warmer – 27 °C (80 °F) was measured in parts of the country.
At the same time, precipitation stayed well above the average throughout the week. On Tuesday, the city of Vranje in southern Serbia saw a record-breaking amount of rainfall, 51 mm (2 in). The wet weather is set to continue for the following few days, officials from the Meteorological Office say.
The unexpectedly warm spell in Serbia ended on Saturday, when temperatures once again reached unusually high 31 °C (88 °F). During the night, temperatures across the country plummeted by 15 to 20 degrees, and are now significantly below the average. Not only is it unseasonably cold – it’s around 10 °C (50 °F) in most places – but we have also seen some heavy rain showers, following a dry period.
This sudden switch in weather is sure to cause problems to patients suffering from chronic conditions, doctors say. They also warn that weather sensitive people will probably experience strong symptoms, including headache and joint pain.
According to Serbian Meteorological Office, it will remain cold for the following several days. Weather should start getting warmer by Friday, thus bringing to an end the last in a series of unexpected weather events in Serbia.
The video above shows the city of Šabac in western Serbia, which was sweltering in heat only the previous day.