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Europe Winter Forecast: 'Fantastic' Ski Season for Alps; More Tranquil in UK

By By Eric Leister, Meteorologist
November 08, 2014, 12:09:21 AM EST

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Following a mild winter for almost all of Europe during the 2013-2014 season, big differences are expected for many areas during the 2014-2015 winter season.

The large-scale weather pattern will feature stubborn areas of high pressure over Scandinavia for much of the winter. This setup will funnel colder air into northern and eastern Europe while also forcing the majority of storm systems to track across southern Europe, especially during the second half of winter.


Eastern Europe Braces for a Cold, Snowy Winter

Numerous shots of cold air from Siberia will result in below-normal temperatures from Poland and the Baltic States eastward into Belarus, Ukraine and western Russia. The cold will often dip farther south into the Balkan Peninsula, combining with an active storm track to produce above-normal snowfall.

Above-normal snowfall is also expected from eastern Poland into western Russia and Ukraine. With cold air in place for the bulk of the winter, snow that does fall will likely remain on the ground for extended periods of time which will only aid in keeping temperatures well below normal.

While cold shots will invade Germany throughout the winter, long-duration cold spells will not be common. However, it will be a cold winter overall for Germany, with temperatures falling near to slightly below normal. More snow is expected this winter compared to last due to the colder air that will be in place.


Another area that can expect more significant snowfall is the Alps, with the most impressive snowfall expected in the Swiss and Austrian Alps.

"Ski conditions will be fantastic for the 2014-2015 ski season, especially when compared to last year," AccuWeather Meteorologist Tyler Roys.

The first significant snowstorm of the year has already occurred across the Swiss and Austrian Alps. This winter, an active storm track and cold air will promote frequent big snow events for the Pyrenees, Alps and the mountains of the Balkan Peninsula.

AccuWeather MinuteCast® is now available in many European countries: The patented minute-by-minute forecast available in the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Netherlands, Luxembourg and parts of the Czech Republic. It will tell you exactly when rain or snow will start and stop at your exact location. Type in your city name, select MinuteCast and input your street address. On mobile, you can also use your GPS location.

Fewer Storms for Ireland, United Kingdom and France

Another aspect of the upcoming winter season is that large and widespread damaging wind events are expected to be less common than last winter, which featured several noteworthy storms that caused damage from the British Isles into northern Europe.

While occasional shots of cold air will send temperatures tumbling across Ireland, the United Kingdom and France early in the winter, a persistent southerly flow caused by storms tracking near and north of Scotland will often result in near- to above-normal temperatures.

Fewer storms tracking across the United Kingdom and Ireland into northern Europe will lead to below-normal precipitation overall for the winter season, following the wettest winter on record across the United Kingdom last year.


Beneficial Rain Forecast for Spain

The primary storm track of the winter will feature more storms tracking across southern Europe, with above-normal precipitation expected in Spain.

Even though a wet winter is predicted for areas from Spain through Italy and into the Balkan Peninsula, temperatures will still be near normal due to warmer-than-normal nights from cloud cover.

A wet winter will have positive impacts for the interior of Spain where the worst drought in decades devastated crops and lowered water levels at key reserves. Rainfall between 100 and 150 percent of normal is forecast for these areas.

Accuweather Meteorologist Alan Reppert added, "This increased rainfall will lead to a higher yield of olives, leading to a drop in olive oil prices following some of the highest prices in years."

Elevated Flooding Threat for Italy and Balkan Peninsula

An active storm track is expected to impact southern Europe throughout this winter.

"Numerous slow-moving storms will deliver days of rainfall to southern Europe, leading to an increased flooding threat from Italy into the Balkan Peninsula where flooding has already been a problem leading up to winter," Nicholls said.

Interactive Weather Radar for United Kingdom and Ireland
Interactive Weather Radar for Germany
Interactive Weather Radar for Italy

The most likely areas to experience flooding from these storm systems will be from Italy into the Balkan Peninsula. Major river flooding is a possibility.

A very wet year has already resulted in some of the worst flooding in recent memory across Italy and the Balkan Peninsula. Flooding that occurred in May was deadly in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Romania and Slovakia. Many of these areas have experienced 200 percent or more of the normal yearly rainfall. A wet winter will only exacerbate the threat for flooding as some areas continue to recover from the earlier flooding.

Meanwhile, heavy snow will fall at times in the higher elevations.

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