Sweden is a large country with great variations in temperature and precipitation. This is especially apparent when looking at the snow cover extent. With climate change the snow cover duration is expected to decrease.

Large amounts of snow can cause major problems in traffic and damage to buildings, overhead power lines, and trees. The problems tend to get worse when combined with strong winds or if the snow is wet and heavy.

The amount of water that is bound in the snow cover during the winter and which melts in the spring, affects the runoff into our waterways during different seasons. This is particularly noticeable during years when a large snow cover melts rapidly, causing a greater spring flood.

Snow cover can also provide opportunities for recreation such as skiing, or transport off the beaten track when the snow cover is thick and long-lasting.

Snow cover duration

In the valleys of the northern mountain regions the first snow cover normally forms in early October. On the highest mountains, this happens already in September. A reason why coastal areas usually have little snow in early winter is because the temperature is relatively high during autumn and early winter around coastal areas and large lakes. Along the south coast of Skåne the snow cover forms on average some time in December.

It may take significantly longer before a more long-lasting snow cover is formed, especially in southern Sweden. The snow cover might not remain throughout the winter in this part of the country, from central Värmland, through south of Dalarna and to central Gästrikland.

With climate change the snow cover duration is expected to decrease, and in the southern parts of the country there is likely to be no long-lasting snow cover at all.