Is This Europe’s Coldest March In 30+ Years? Arctic Oscillation To Go Off The Scale!

Written by on March 12, 2013 in Rest of Europe, United Kingdom & Ireland with 2 Comments
AFP/AFP - Cars drive in the morning traffic on the N118 road around Paris, on March 12, 2013, during a heavy snow storm in France. A heavy late-winter snowstorm hit northwestern Europe on Tuesday (Reuters)

AFP/AFP – Cars drive in the morning traffic on the N118 road around Paris, on March 12, 2013, during a heavy snow storm in France. A heavy late-winter snowstorm hit northwestern Europe on Tuesday (Reuters)

A massive late season snowstorm which hammered a region stretching from Germany through the Netherlands, Belgium, Northern France and Southeast England may go down in the history books as one of the worst in March as hundreds become stranded on the roads, rail and airports.

Hundreds of thousands lost power in Northern France with Paris all but grinding to a halt. The winter storm which struck is something this region has not seen in years never mind in March. It’s said that the hard-hit Channel Islands just off the North Coast of France, endured it’s worst winter storm since 1987 while reports on twitter suggested this was Northern France’s worst snowstorm in some 40 years with upwards of 50cm or nearly 2 FEET of snow accumulating.

The event was considered ‘remarkable for the season’ according to Meteo France.In atrocious near blizzard conditions, motorists on both the French and English side of the Channel spent last night stranded in their cars, heavy snow coupled with 40-50 mph winds built up metre-high snow drifts. According to Reuters, in the Normandy and Brittany areas of Northern and Northwest France, as many as 2,000 people were trapped in cars or spent the night in emergency shelters.

As many as 80,000 lost power The Eurotunnel shut down while the city of Paris all but grinded to a halt. In terms of surprise, this storm was well monitored and expected to be significant across Northern France and somewhere along the South Coast of Britain. I first alluded to a ‘snowstorm potential’ way back last Saturday as I stated that ‘some sort of surface low’ could develop beneath the upper low as bitterly cold air swept down from an unusually cold Scandinavia.

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The depth of cold coming was becoming more and more apparent throughout last week as models were all in agreement that this would be the coldest air mass on the winter. Amazing given that it’s mid-March! While a major snowstorm hammered a region from Germany to France, clipping southern Britain, fierce ENE winds blew across the North Sea brining heavy snow showers to many parts of the UK. As the cold settled in, winds dropped off and with the help of fresh snow covered ground, Aboyne in NE Scotland plunged to -13C which made for the second coldest night of the winter.

Last night the thermometer fell to -12C at Saughall in Ayrshire with a widespread -4 to -8C. My dash temperature fell to -11C in the snow covered village of Blackwood, just 18 miles south of Glasgow. Similar conditions are expected tonight under clear, calm skies and over snow cover.

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As cold and snow lingers through much of the week, I recon this 10 day stretch could be one of the coldest and most severe March periods for Western Europe in 30 years. So, why is it so cold and stormy and how could this be seen coming way back some 10 days ago? It stems back to my primary analog for this winter, 2009-10 and with that winter came a cold, snowy February and March. While 2009-10 was far more severe overall, the March of 2012 verses a similarly wild March 2010 appears outdone by this year due to the storm and savage, mid-winter cold blast.

The ARCTIC OSCILLATION diving into the tank (deepest of winter), meant a world of cold was in the mid-latitudes and the signs were there to be seen by what was going on across in the United States as well as across parts of NE Asia. With the NORTH ATLANTIC OSCILLATION also going more and more negative, this screamed that cold and snow was on the way to Western Europe and sure enough, we got it.

Arctic Oscillation Goes Off The Scale!! Not Good If Your Hoping For Spring!

I knew the AO was holding in the tank but when I just brought this latest ensemble up I nearly fell off my seat! Check this out…

Courtesy of NOAA

Courtesy of NOAA


Courtesy of NOAA

Courtesy of NOAA

Given there’s plenty more cold fuel through the remainder of March with the AO diving into off-the-scale negative and with the NAO appearing to take a double dip, my advise is don’t pack away your warm clothing, scraper or even snow boots just yet. We may very well see just as cold and wild weather during the second half of March which may extend into April. We saw cold and even snow into the second week of May back in 2010, could we see a repeat this year?[/s2If][s2If current_user_is(s2member_level0)]

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  1. Jamie says:

    this snow has been something else. well done on your forecast. it will be another boost to the Scottish ski centres.

  2. perry says:

    Like what you are saying. Seams your winter forecast has been pretty much spot on. Well done and keep up the good work

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