AccuWeather’s 2023 Europe summer forecast
Will the weather pattern this season break the continent's streak of consecutive record hot summers? And will drought areas receive any relief? AccuWeather meteorologists have answers to all this and more in the newly released forecast.
Ambulances were caught in floodwaters on May 26 in Benicassim and Oropesa del Mar, Spain. The rain has been welcomed by many after this year’s driest spring since 1961.
Summer is right around the corner, and AccuWeather’s expert team of long-range forecasters has all the details on how the new season will unfold across Europe. Summer will officially kick off in the Northern Hemisphere on the solstice on Wednesday, June 21, roughly three weeks after the start of meteorological summer on Thursday, June 1.
Tyler Roys and Alan Reppert, senior meteorologists at AccuWeather who have studied weather patterns across the continent for more than three decades collectively, scrutinized past years and weather patterns around the globe to determine the main themes of the upcoming season.
AccuWeather meteorologists say summer weather will start quickly across central and northern Europe, while southeastern areas could experience a slower transition to the new season. Although the upcoming season may not be as stifling as prior summers, experts say it could prove just as hazardous for residents and visitors alike by way of wildfires, growing drought and severe weather.
What part of the continent could be in the path of frequent storms? And where will a lack of rain induce a heightened wildfire risk? The answers to that and more can be found below in AccuWeather's comprehensive 2023 Europe summer forecast.
Is an encore of extreme heat in the cards?
Europe is entering the new season, having faced back-to-back summers of brutal, record-smashing heat.
Earlier this year, a report released by the Copernicus Climate Change Service detailed how the summer of 2022 was the hottest on record for the European continent, beating the previous record set just one year prior in the summer of 2021. The dangerously hot conditions affected nearly every facet of life, claimed thousands of lives and worsened drought conditions, resulting in startling discoveries along parched riverbeds.
Tourists stand next to the fountains of Trocadero next to the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, on Aug. 3, 2022, while Europe was under an unusually extreme heat wave. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
Sweltering weather was quick to ramp up in portions of Spain and Portugal this spring. On April 27, 2023, Córdoba, Spain, set a new record for the highest April temperature ever recorded in Europe as the thermometer soared to heights more typical of August.
Heading into the new season, the burning question on the minds of many Europeans may be whether summer 2023 will be remembered as another season of extremes.
In general, extreme heat events are expected to be less frequent across the continent compared to recent years, according to Roys.
"There will be times that it gets hot, especially from the Iberian Peninsula to southern France and northern Italy, but the extreme record-breaking heat of last summer is unlikely to be repeated,” Roys said.
A stream of moisture from the Atlantic Ocean should increase cloud cover in these areas, which will help keep temperatures in check during the daytime hours, forecasters say. At night, however, cloud cover can act like a blanket, insulating the air beneath and resulting in higher temperatures than what would typically be observed.
Milder conditions during the overnight hours could lead to temperatures above the historical average for the summer as a whole in this region. AccuWeather experts say it could lead to health hazards as well.
“A vast majority of the buildings in Europe are made to retain heat, so if those places cannot cool down because the temperatures in the atmosphere are not lowering as much overnight, you’ll run a higher risk of heat-related health issues as the summer progresses,” Roys explained.
AccuWeather meteorologists say eastern Europe is one area of the continent that is less likely to experience frequent waves of scorching heat in the upcoming season. As a whole, temperatures are likely to hover close to the historical average over the summer months across Hungary, Romania and Serbia.
Dry, warm summer may increase wildfire risk in Scandinavia
The summer is expected to shake out on the drier and warmer side — compared to the historical average — across the northern half of the continent, including in Ireland, the United Kingdom and Scandinavia.
“There is a risk for Scandinavia to experience a repeat of 2018 when persistent warm, dry weather caused wildfires to break out across the region,” Roys said. “The region is not made to handle that type of weather pattern.”
During that summer, Sweden was ravaged by destructive blazes, which is remembered as one of the country’s worst wildfire outbreaks in modern history.
AccuWeather forecasters say that Scandinavia is not expected to be parched the entire summer. At times, showers and thunderstorms could move through the area.
“Any precipitation will struggle to materialize too much, however,” Roys said, adding that this would result in a higher likelihood of drought.
Farther west, Ireland and the United Kingdom will likely endure their fair share of dry stretches, which could prompt fears of another drought.
“There is a threat for drought to return, especially in England and the Midlands, but conditions are not expected to be as severe as last year,” Roys said.
During the summer of 2022, the British government issued its first drought declaration in England since 2018 as the region endured its driest summer in 50 years.
Interspersed in the dry spells can be times when showers and thunderstorms develop — especially across England and Wales — that can produce locally heavy rainfall and strong wind gusts.
AccuWeather expert meteorologists say June and July are forecast to be the driest months of the summer in this region before relief potentially arrives later in the season.
“How much precipitation there is during the latter part of the summer may be dependent on any tropical features that are in the Atlantic Ocean that could get steered toward northwest Europe,” Roys said. “By late August, that is when the British Isles could face the potential for impacts from tropical entities.”
A man runs up a hill on a small road in Frankfurt, Germany, as the sun rises on Friday, June 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)
Stormy periods from northern France to the Balkans
AccuWeather’s Europe summer forecast highlights the zone from northern France to Germany, Poland and into the Balkan states as the most likely corridor to face more frequent bouts of precipitation and perhaps even severe weather compared to the rest of the continent.
Precipitation should wind up near the historical average for much of this region, which will be good news for the crops across the Balkans, according to Roys.
Although the rainfall will help to curb drought conditions in the region, it could have damaging consequences for some communities.
“The zone from northern France to the Balkans is at greatest risk for severe weather in terms of thunderstorms capable of producing damaging winds and hail,” Roys said.
In the Balkans, the rounds of storminess could result in a significant flash flood risk as precipitation rises above the historical average for the season.
All hope is not lost for summer plans and holidays to be completely washed out, however, as “nice periods are expected” throughout the summer, according to Roys.
Temperatures are expected to be near to slightly above the historical average across the region over the course of June, July and August.
“We are expecting the number of 90-degree-Fahrenheit (32-degree-Celsius) or higher days to be slightly above the historical average this summer,” Roys said. “Will they be as frequent as the past few years, however? No.”
Drought relief may be hard to come by in southwestern Europe
Areas in most desperate need of rainfall across Europe are unlikely to receive aid from Mother Nature this summer, forecasters say.
The European Drought Observatory paints a bleak picture across most of the Iberian Peninsula, southern France and northern Italy where drought is ongoing.
"In April, the water levels of Italy’s Po River were already comparable to what they were last summer,” Roys said, noting the severity of the situation entering the new season.
The Po River, Italy's largest river at 405 miles long, is also the biggest reservoir of fresh water available in the country.
Melting snow in the Alps has provided little moisture to the unusually dry ground, as the mountains received 50% or less of their historical average snow cover during the winter season.
“Even though there will be precipitation around at times this summer, daily thunderstorms or things of that nature, precipitation is not going to be widespread or very meaningful,” Roys said.
Roys was quick to point out that the deadly flooding that ensued in northern Italy when a season’s worth of rain fell during the middle of May was ineffective in alleviating the drought, nor does it give any indication of what is to come this summer.
Spain, Portugal and southern France may wind up with rain amounts not too far from normal for the season, but that is not saying much given how dry they typically are, according to Reppert.
A forest burns during a wildfire near Altura, eastern Spain, on Friday, Aug. 19, 2022. (AP Photo/Alberto Saiz)
Dry thunderstorms, which are thunderstorms that produce little, if any, rain but still generate an abundance of dangerous lightning, could be a threat in these areas. This weather phenomenon is notorious for sparking lightning-induced wildfires that can flourish in areas of drought.
Experts encourage residents and visitors alike to use caution when handling any outdoor flame or spark to limit the risk of human-induced blazes.
“The main theme of the summer for this part of the continent is that any rain will bring short-term relief only, and the drought that worsened last summer will not go away for any of these locations,” Roys said.
The persistent dryness can stress the water supply, waterway transportation and crops, with corn likely to be the most susceptible to the drought.
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