Weather bureau: 2023 was Bulgaria’s warmest year on record since 1930

According to a preliminary assessment by Bulgaria’s weather bureau, the average annual temperature for 2023 in Bulgaria was 12.9 degrees Celsius, making last year the country’s warmest on record since 1930.

The year 2023 was about 0.4 degrees warmer than 2019, the second warmest, the weather bureau said.

Winter and autumn 2023 were the warmest winter and autumn seasons since 1930, and the summer was the third warmest. Only spring had temperatures below normal.

January 2023 had the largest positive deviation from the norm, followed by the months of October, December and September.

September featured summer temperatures, even though it is the first month of meteorological autumn.

There were 25 “summer days” (days with a maximum temperature above 25 degrees), more than the summer days in June, the first month of that season.

On September 23, temperatures around or exceeding 36 degrees C were measured at 12 weather stations in Bulgaria.

It was also unusually warm in October, when there are also long periods with consecutive summer days, the weather bureau said.

In the second half of July, there was one of the worst heat waves in Bulgaria in decades, it said.

There are periods of eight to 12 days in northern Bulgaria and 16 to 17 days in southern Bulgaria with recorded maximum temperatures around or exceeding 34 degrees C. At 38 weather stations, temperatures reached or exceeded 40 degrees C.

The lowest measured temperature was minus 24.7 degrees C on February 7 at Musala peak, and the highest 43 degrees C on July 25 in Rousse.

Monthly amounts of precipitation varied widely. For example, after the extremely dry October, during which the precipitation was only about 12 per cent of the monthly norm, the wettest month of the year followed – November, with an average total precipitation of about 232 per cent of the climatic norm.

The frequency of wind storms during the year was significant, the weather bureau said.

In almost all months, there were reports material damage caused by strong gusts of wind in different regions of the country.

On November 4, a tornado took the roofs off more than 100 houses in Isperih municipality. The most serious damage was in the village of Lavino, where the roofs of over 30 houses were completely destroyed.

On November 18, two people died in Varna and Sofia, trapped by fallen trees as a result of hurricane-force winds. Gale force winds, in many places exceeding 20 m/s, damaged parks and buildings almost across the country.

Associate Professor Lilia Bocheva of the National Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology told Bulgarian National Television in an interview that every decade since 1980 has been warmer than the previous one: “This does not mean that each subsequent year is warmer than the previous one. We have a fluctuating temperature regime, but it is going upwards”.

Bocheva said that 2023 stands out as a record year both for the world and for Bulgaria.

Climatologist Dr Simeon Matev of Sofia University told Bulgarian National Television: “It is difficult to say whether 2024 will beat 2023, but there will undoubtedly be some months that will be record warm. The trends for 2024 are a continuation of the El Niño phenomenon, but this phenomenon is weakening”.

Heatwaves and extreme events will continue into the new year and beyond, although it is not known precisely when they will happen.

“Bulgaria ranks among the countries that are relatively severely affected by these phenomena. It is very likely that in the summer we will again have days with intense precipitation, they will cause damage and if the mayors of the respective places have not learned the lessons from previous ones, again will be top news in the media,” Matev said.

(Photo: Ivan Philipov)

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