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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Winter returns as fresh snowfall expected overnight in parts of Germany

Winter is making a late "guest appearance" in Germany with forecasters predicting further snow overnight in some parts of the country.

Winter returns as fresh snowfall expected overnight in parts of Germany

After heavy snowfall overnight on Friday in the Thuringian Forest and the western Ore Mountains, fresh snow is expected in other parts of the country on Saturday night.

An area of low pressure over Poland is currently bringing cold air to Germany and up to 20 centimetres of snow is predicted in the night from Saturday to Sunday for some areas, German news website Tageschau reported, citing the German Weather Service (DWD).

Meteorologists are forecasting heavy snowfall especially from the Sauerland region and northern Hesse up to the Thuringian Forest.

A thin blanket of snow could form at low altitudes, while at levels of 400 to 600 metres above sea level, as much as 15 centimetres of fresh snow could fall. 

Sunday will see sleet, especially in southern Germany, with heavy snowfall forecast for the evening in the Alps and its foothills.

“Winter is making another late guest appearance,” DWD meteorologist Christian Herold said.

Temperatures are set to remain unseasonably cold in the coming week, too, DWD said.

The weather may warm up gradually towards the end of the month, but there are currently no signs of stable sunny, warmer weather, the forecaster said.