Europe set for unusually warm winter but faces cold blast in December

Europe faces a higher-than-usual chance of a cold blast of weather before the end of the year, but the winter overall is likely to be warmer than average, the continent's long-range weather forecaster said Thursday.

Europe set for unusually warm winter but faces cold blast in December

Temperatures this winter will be crucial for homeowners worried about the record cost of heating their homes, and for European policymakers seeking to avoid energy rationing due to cuts in Russian gas supplies.

“We see the winter as being warmer than usual,” said Carlo Buontempo, director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service that produces seasonal forecasts for the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF).

“Nevertheless there is a still a significant chance of a block situation, which can lead to cold temperatures and low wind over Europe,” he told AFP as the service issued a monthly update to its forecasts.

A so-called block or blocking pattern in the winter can bring stable, often wind-free weather accompanied by freezing temperatures.

“This was looking more likely in November, but there now looks like a pronounced probability of a cold outbreak in December,” Buontempo said.

The ECMWF produces weather modelling with data from a range of national weather services around Europe.

Its forecasts are based on indicators such as ocean and atmospheric temperatures, as well as wind speeds in the stratosphere, but do not have the accuracy of short-range reports.

The models provide the “best information possible, to give a hint, to guide our decisions”, Buontempo said.

The European winter was expected to be warmer than usual because of the “La Nina” global weather phenomenon, which is related to cooling surface temperatures in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean.

“We know that in a La Nina year, the latter part of the European winter tends to favour westerly winds, so warm and wet,” Buontempo said.

The agency will update its winter season forecast next month when it will have greater confidence because “all the drivers for the winter will be more active”, he said.

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Heavy snow causes travel chaos in southern Norway 

Heavy snow has led to several accidents and travel disruption on Friday, with multiple weather warnings in place for parts of southern and western Norway. 

Heavy snow causes travel chaos in southern Norway 

Heavy snow will continue throughout Norway on Friday after plenty of precipitation through Thursday evening. 

The snow has caused significant issues for travellers in southern and western Norway, with the police and the Norwegian Public Roads Administration advising drivers to consider if a journey is necessary and work from home if they can. 

At 7am this morning, traffic on the E18 into Oslo was disrupted after a car was flipped onto its roof. This led to partial closures, single-file driving and queues stretching kilometres. Additionally, shortly after 9:30am, the E16 between Skui and Rustan was closed due to traffic being blocked toward Hønefoss. 

Meanwhile, two drivers were taken to the hospital for check-ups after an accident In Bjørntvedtvegen in Skien. And in Oslo, at around 7am, a car and a bus in Grorud collided. 

Train traffic has also been affected. The Bergen line between Hallingskeid and Myrdal is closed due to snow avalanches. Additionally, signalling issues at Drammen station caused delays and changes to services from the station. 

Furthermore, the majority of the mountain passes in Norway were closed due to bad weather or were operating with convoy driving in place. has sent out a red danger warning for avalanches and an orange danger warning for snow in several places. In addition, a yellow danger warning has been issued for gusts of wind in Rogaland and Hordaland.

For an overview of closed roads and mountain passes, you can click here to check the Norwegian Public Roads Administration site.