It was a long time coming but finally winter has shown itself in Europe and the USA.  Weeks of warmth, rain and wind have finally ended; the snow and subsequent freeze have arrived.

The forecast of an “Arctic intrusion” into the plains states of the US has come to pass: Denver, Colorado started  the day at -12 Celsius, having been sub-zero since Boxing Day.

Denver is at nearly 1700m above sea level and really gets cold, but Oklahoma is down on the plain, and here too there has been a major chill: 26th December 17C, 27th December 3C.

And of course the snow has fallen beyond the mountains.  10cm fell on Oklahoma City on the 27th. It is far better for snow to fall before the deep freeze.

The cereal growing plains states can suffer great losses of crop if the ground freezes, but if the snow falls first, that acts as an insulator and when it melts, it waters the ground.

In the short term, sudden snow is disruptive. Whilst the drivers of Oklahoma skid all over the place, the hopeful travelers in Europe queued for hours on the French roads.

Winter descended through the UK, the Low Countries, France and Germany. Snow fell to a depth of 10cm in Derby and on the Lincolnshire Wolds, both in England.

The roads to the now rapidly opening ski resorts in the Alps were full of cars and snow. The two are not good bed-fellows. 15,000 people were stranded on Saturday and emergency shelters were opened.

The Haute Savoie was just one of 19 departments in France on orange weather alert – one below the highest, red.

But there’s icing on the cake: new snow on the mountains for skiers. As an example, Kitzbuhel in Austria has now got some lower slope snow, good piste conditions and even some off-piste powder.

There is more to come, of both snow and freezing weather, in much of Europe and the United States of America.

Source: Al Jazeera