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Snow and ice in Europe


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    The storms and snowfall forecast for the weekend are not likely to cause major insured losses. Although snow breakage and heavy icing are being predicted, record events such as those that occurred in Bavaria in January 2006 or in Münsterland in November 2005 are not to be expected, according to a current statement by Munich Re geo experts.

    Winter has a firm grip on Europe. Further aggravation of the wintry conditions in central Europe that have persisted since late December is expected for the coming weekend. Southwestern Europe and northern central Europe will be hardest hit.

    The cause is cold air extending as far as northern Africa. In addition, a strong low-pressure system (Daisy) over the Mediterranean is moving from the region south of the Alps towards Eastern Europe, causing heavy precipitation on the southern flanks of the Alps, and precipitation over large parts of central Europe. Furthermore, a high-pressure system over Scandinavia is gaining force. Its interaction with the low pressure system will produce storms in the region between the northern edge of the low mountain ranges and the coast.

    For an area covering all of western Europe to North Africa, this indicates freezing temperatures with some heavy snowfalls, even in coastal regions. Even in lower lying areas of central Europe, 10 to 50 cm of snow are being forecast for the coming days. Up to one metre of new snow is being predicted at higher elevations on the south side of the Alps.

    At present, almost all of Europe is under snow cover. Unusually high levels are to be found in the areas adjoining the North Sea and Baltic Sea, for example, some 30 cm on Rügen.

    Fig.: Snowfall forecast in cm by Sunday afternoon for central Europe (source:


    In Germany, the main focus is on the combination of the moderate windstorm conditions with the heavy snowfall in some areas and persistent low temperatures, which can cause considerable drifting. This will particularly affect the central and northern part of Germany and Poland. Considerable disruptions are to be expected in all forms of transportation here. Widespread snow breakage and icing (as occurred in Bavaria in January 2006 or in Münsterland in November 2005) are, however, not to be expected in Germany. In southwestern Europe and the western Mediterranean, the main focus is on frost damage and local snow breakage.

    Winter damage in Europe Significant Events between 1980 and 2009 (PDF, 401 KB)
    Winter damage in Germany Significant Events between 1970 and 2009 (PDF, 402 KB)

    This press release contains forward-looking statements that are based on current assumptions and forecasts of the management of Munich Re. Known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors could lead to material differences between the forward-looking statements given here and the actual development, in particular the results, financial situation and performance of our Company. The Company assumes no liability to update these forward-looking statements or to conform them to future events or developments.