By P Gosselin
Germany’s DWD national weather service has released the preliminary figures for Germany’s mean temperature and precipitation for May, 2023. The month was normal in terms of temperature using the 1991-2020 climate mean and drier than normal.
Those who hoped for compensation after the cool April only got their money’s worth at times in May 2023 – at times it was summery warm, but for the most part, very cool days prevailed.
A cool start to the month was followed by a cool period, and in the last third of the month the “Little Ice Saints” made themselves felt with cold nights despite plenty of sunshine. Unfortunately, the dreaded spring and early summer drought reappeared, especially in northeastern Germany, which reduced crop prospects, albeit much less severely than in 2022.
The 2023 May was therefore not entirely satisfactory – but in the long term neither May temperatures nor precipitation showed any worrying trends.
The figure above shows that despite rising CO2 concentrations, the trend for the May mean temperature has not risen since 1986.
May precipitation 2023 – mostly insufficient
With around 44 mm of precipitation, which is just under two-thirds of the mean for the period 1991 to 2020, this May was far from being one of the driest since 1881.
Unfortunately, the well-known rule “When May is warm and dry, all growth stalls” still applies, even if the sharp rise in CO₂ concentrations helps plants to better survive dry phases.
Longterm precipitation trend shows nothing worrying
The northeast of Germany, already plagued by droughts, was also at a severe disadvantage this May; from about the Elbe north-eastwards, less than 20 mm fell most of the time; after 2018, 19, 20 and 22, the next crop failure are in the works. In Weimar, the usual early summer drought started quite late this time; only in the last ten days of May. The situation is somewhat better in the centre of the country and regionally much better in southwest Germany.
A look at the long-term development of May precipitation shows nothing worrying, however:
Chart: Germany precipitation in millimeters since 1881. Overall trend is wetter. Since th2000 the trend has been drier. Data source: DWD.