AccuWeather's 2022-2023 Europe winter forecast
As Europe continues to deal with an ongoing energy crisis, AccuWeather meteorologists have outlined which parts of the continent will have the harshest conditions this winter and which areas could be spared the worst weather impacts.
Heavy rain in Torrevieja, Spain, caused restaurant tables and chairs to be swept away by floodwaters on Oct. 10
The official start of winter is just over two months away, and even though many Europeans may be getting settled into fall routines, AccuWeather's team of long-range meteorologists has already pieced together an outlook for what Old Man Winter will bring to Europe this upcoming season.
Climbing electricity and gas costs across the continent are putting additional pressure on the prospect of what this winter will bring. Periods of cold weather could mean a ripple effect throughout different aspects of the European economy. It could bring long-lasting impacts to the day-to-day lives of residents as well as repercussions to tourism and commerce that can expand on a global level.
This winter season, experts say that the overall pattern will be largely influenced by La Niña, an oceanic and atmospheric phenomenon that is the cold counterpart to El Niño. During La Niña, unusually low ocean temperatures expand across the Equatorial Pacific, which in turn creates an ocean-atmospheric feedback system that can impact weather across the globe--particularly the winter temperature and snowfall patterns.
Climatologists say La Niña is still undergoing strengthening and is predicted to continue through the rest of the autumn and winter months.
"La Niña is expected to peak in November," AccuWeather Lead International Meteorologist Jason Nicholls said, adding that the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) signature should return to a neutral phase -- neither La Niña or El Niño -- in January. Despite that change during the latter part of the season, atmospheric conditions should remain La Niña-like throughout the entirety of winter due to a lag between the climate phenomenon and altered weather conditions.
What does this mean for the 2022-2023 winter outlook across Europe? Since this winter is the third consecutive winter season under the influence of La Niña, this season may bring a handful of similarities to last year's winter weather. However, AccuWeather forecasters say that this year contains a rare piece of the puzzle that recent years have not.
“A triple La Niña has occurred only three times since record-keeping began, the most recent being the start of the century from 1998 to 2001,” explained AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alan Reppert. By looking back at the few times in recent history when there were three La Niña winters in a row, forecasters can analyze these unique years and use them as part of their toolkit to help piece together what this winter may hold.
How cold will it get this season, and which areas can expect stormy conditions? AccuWeather meteorologists answer that and more in a region-by-region breakdown below.
Southern Europe to take brunt of potent storms
AccuWeather forecasters say there are indications that the general storm track this winter will often aim for southern Europe.
Locations across Portugal, Spain, southern France, Italy and the Balkans stand a greater chance of receiving more frequent rain and wind-driven events than other parts of the continent. In some ways, residents from the Iberian Peninsula to southeastern Europe could see some similarities to the previous two years.
This could mean an increased risk for heavy rain events, especially in southeastern France, north-central Italy and the western Balkans. Those living in cities, such as Venice, Italy, should closely monitor any storms in the area this winter due to their location's vulnerability to flooding. A dominant southerly storm track across Europe would also mean the potential for higher snowfall along the southern slopes of the Alps, explained Roys.
Windstorms are known for bringing damaging winds, torrential rainfall and even unloading snow in higher terrain. Last year, many of the named storm events in Spain and Portugal occurred later in the windstorm season in the springtime. However, numerous impacts from Storm Blas were felt during the first half of November across portions of eastern Spain and southern France.
Blas was named by Agencia Estatal de Meteorología (AEMET), the Spanish Meteorological Agency, on Nov. 5, 2021. The storm spread heavy rain and gusty winds to the eastern coast of Spain before tracking over the western Mediterranean and bringing additional rain and wind to parts of Algeria and France.
Two snowmen frame the snow-draped dome of St. Peter Basilica. The snow blanketed ancient arches in the Roman Forum. (AP Photo/Alberto Pellaschiar)
Mountainous areas that can have higher snowfall totals this winter over the Iberian Peninsula include the Cantabrian Mountains, Central System and Pyrenees Mountains across northern and central Spain. The upcoming pattern could lead to ideal stretches of weather for area ski resorts and winter vacation destinations. However, low-lying areas outside the higher terrain will also stand a chance of getting normal to slightly above-average snowfall amounts as temperatures drop throughout the winter.
Following a remarkably dry summer in some regions with periods of sweltering temperatures, the yields from crops such as maize (corn), sunflower, sugar beet, potatoes and soybeans took a direct hit, according to the European Union’s crop monitoring service MARS. Experts have noted that the milder weather and periods of much-needed rainfall that arrived in some regions by late summer came too late for it to benefit many summer crops significantly. The prospects for this winter's growth and the upcoming harvest have moved into the spotlight.
Europeans have rising concerns that dry soil and depleted water reservoirs across southern Europe will need above-average winter precipitation to be restored. With this in mind, winter is typically the wettest season across this part of the continent, and the pattern favors rounds of unsettled weather that could help to put a dent in the ongoing drought. However, it is not expected that the upcoming stormy pattern could completely erase the drought. It may take years of above-average rainfall seasons to replenish the current low water levels.
Temperatures will likely trend near normal to slightly above normal across southern Europe this winter. However, periods of unsettled weather can be accompanied by spells of cooler weather, according to Reppert.
United Kingdom and Ireland can face cold bursts
By the start of December 2021, parts of the United Kingdom and Ireland had already observed some impacts from windstorms, including the named storms Aurore, Arwen and Barra. Storm Arwen was the notable storm that trapped 61 concertgoers inside the Tan Hill Inn, England's highest pub, for several days in late November 2021.
Last winter in mid-February, Storm Eunice brought substantial damage to infrastructure across the United Kingdom. The O2 Area's roof in London was badly torn by extreme wind gusts during this period. The Needles, a landmark in southern England, observed a wind gust of 122 mph from Storm Eunice, which the U.K. Met Office confirmed as the highest wind gust ever reported in England. To put the strength of winds into perspective, a Category 3 major hurricane in the Atlantic has winds ranging from 111 to 120 mph.
A general view of storm damage caused to the 02 Arena in east London, Friday, Feb. 18, 2022. Millions of Britons are being urged to cancel travel plans and stay indoors Friday amid fears of high winds and flying debris as the second major storm this week prompted a rare "red" weather warning across southern England (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
This winter, the forecast calls for temperatures generally near normal, with cold bursts that can coincide with periods of snowy weather.
The overall pattern this winter in cities such as Dublin and Edinburgh will favor fewer snow days than in typical years. However, any cold and unsettled periods that may grip the region this year could have substantial repercussions given the state of energy demand and costs associated with heating homes.
“There can be stretches of mild weather with near-normal temperatures," Roys said. "However, an outbreak of colder weather can settle across the region for a period of two to three weeks."
During these cold spells, the likelihood of residents observing snowfall outside the higher terrain areas will increase. Spots such as the Pennines Mountains, Southern Uplands and the Grampian Mountains will be areas forecasters say should have the greatest chance of normal snowfall this year.
January and February may bring a more active period in terms of snowfall for portions of Scotland and the highlands with the chances of storms to sideswipe northern spots. Meanwhile, areas of the southern United Kingdom could record near-normal winter precipitation totals during the first half of winter and less snowfall than typical by February.
While the frequency of storms may not change much this winter compared to last year, forecasters say there might be fewer impacts and the storms' intensities may be lower as well.
North-Central Europe to face dry conditions
Unlike the unsettled weather predicted for countries in southern Europe, locations farther north like northern France, Benelux, Germany and parts of Poland could have largely drier conditions.
With the general storm track favoring regions to the south, many locations across north-central Europe will face the risk of missing out on abundant winter precipitation. While the autumn rainfall that has already dampened areas of France, Germany and Poland recently has been welcome for the planting of winter crops, the prospects of a drier winter season could lead to challenges for continued growth of crops and may lead to a lower yield come harvest time.
Portions of France and Germany may trend on the drier side in comparison to locations across Poland, AccuWeather forecasters say, including the metro hubs of Paris and Berlin. Rain and snowfall amounts this winter are expected to trend below normal in northern France and Germany but can be near normal in Poland.
Average to slightly below-average temperatures will dominate this region.
With less snow in the forecast for north-central Europe, the risk of cold weather squashing the chances of winter crops surviving to harvest rises. If minimal snowfall is on the ground and a cold snap occurs, the winter crops such as grains and cereals would have little to protect them from the intrusion of cold air.
A woman poses for pictures as snow covers the Trocadero gardens with the Eiffel Tower in the background, in Paris, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021. The Eiffel Tower is using a blowtorch to melt ice collecting on its surfaces, and snow is blocking roads, trains and school buses across northern France. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Baltics and Scandinavia trending warmer
AccuWeather meteorologists are predicting a warmer-than-average winter in northeastern Europe and Scandinavia.
Periods of unsettled and chilly weather will be likely at times, but numerous atmospheric factors point toward temperatures trending on the warm side across the region, and fewer snow days are anticipated compared to typical years.
The possibility remains for storms to swing through with the potential to initially clip the northern United Kingdom then bring winter precipitation to western and southern parts of Norway.
Additionally, forecasters have raised concerns for storms to track northward from the Mediterranean and spread moisture to Finland, given the active pattern anticipated in southern Europe.
Areas across southern Sweden, including the city of Stockholm, may miss out on most snow days during the first half of winter. Meanwhile, snow enthusiasts may need to flock to areas to the east and west in Finland and Norway in order to encounter bursts of snowfall from December to February.
AccuWeather's Annual European Ski Forecast
It has come time to dust off the skis and snowboards for the second annual iteration of AccuWeather’s European Ski Forecast is in.
As many ski resorts across Europe prepare for what may turn out to be the busiest ski season since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, some owners are warning that a few aspects of the ski experience may be different this year. Rising electricity and gas costs have forced some resorts to raise the prices of an already expensive sport. Some resorts have been in jeopardy of not even reopening.
Resorts in France that are facing the challenge of reopening have come up with a few unique tactics in order to cut costs, including slowing the speed of lifts, using renewable energy and seeking government support, reported Euronews. As a result, customers may end up paying higher fees to offset the remaining costs.
Areas that are predicted to have excellent ski conditions this winter include resorts largely across the tallest elevations in southern Europe where an active storm track is likely to set up. In turn, additional snow is likely to have a positive effect on operating costs in these locations.
Spots that are expected to face “good” ski conditions this winter include resorts in Scotland, southern Norway, central Spain and central Italy. Poor conditions are anticipated this season for any resorts located across northern England and areas in Germany, including the northern slopes of the Alps.
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