'Godzilla' El Nino Likely Not to Blame for UK's Cold Spells This Winter

By by Jillian MacMath, AccuWeather.com Staff Writer
October 26, 2015, 9:23:32 AM EDT

As the strongest El Niño in over 50 years begins to impact the global weather pattern, rumours are flying that it could result in a long, bitterly cold winter across the United Kingdom.

While it’s true that El Niño can play a role in the pattern that sets up over western Europe, the Met Office says its influence won’t be wildly impactful.

“The influence of an El Niño over the U.K. and western Europe tends to be weaker and less predictable than elsewhere because of how far away we are from the event itself,” the Met Office wrote in their blog on 15th September.

El Niño is characterized by above-normal sea surface temperatures in the eastern and central equatorial Pacific Ocean.

As the U.K. sits considerably farther from this area of warm water than the United States or South America, the impacts are generally less significant.


However, there is a link in late winter during El Niño years, when the U.K. can be at a slightly higher risk of colder-than-normal weather, according to the Met Office.

AccuWeather’s 2015-2016 Europe Winter Forecast calls for cold spells for the U.K. at times.

The core of the cold air is expected to build over Scandinavia and then drop southward, with only brief periods of below-normal temperatures reaching northwest Europe, according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Eric Leister.

Overall, however, temperatures this winter season are expected to be typical for northwest Europe, with the only exception being Ireland and Scotland, where colder-than-normal water in the North Atlantic will keep high temperatures below normal.

The number of days with snow and ice are also forecast to be fewer than normal.

2015-2016 Europe Winter Forecast
Cold 'Blob' in North Atlantic Ocean May Affect Weather in Europe, Eastern US
PHOTOS: 400-Year-Old Church Emerges From Drying Mexico Reservoir

“Generally, El Niño could cause a jet stream configuration to allow for cold air at times into the U.K.,” AccuWeather Meteorologist and Long-Range Forecaster Anthony Sagliani said.

However, the overall pattern is much more significantly driven by processes that occur in the north Atlantic, he said, including the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and the Arctic Oscillation (AO).

“These teleconnections, as we call them, determine the placement of highs and lows in the atmosphere, and also the placement of the jet stream far more significantly than El Niño does in the U.K.,” Sagliani said.

Despite being nicknamed a Bruce Lee and Godzilla El Niño on social media, its impacts, if any, will be minimal.

“There’s really no effect in the U.K. that we can say is definitely caused by El Niño” AccuWeather Meteorologist Tyler Roys said.

“We can’t say, like we can in the U.S., that it’s going to be wet, or stormy, etc. By the time [El Niño] reaches Europe, the influences have been overtaken by typical processes that control the region’s weather.”

Report a Typo


Comments that don't add to the conversation may be automatically or manually removed by Facebook or AccuWeather. Profanity, personal attacks, and spam will not be tolerated.

More Weather News