Official Europe Winter Forecast 2013-2014

Well it’s that time of year. Time for your Europe winter forecast 2013-14.

Based on multiple factors below, I have concluded that the upcoming winter should be colder and snowier than normal in Western Europe and warmer, drier in the East.

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Summer/Autumn 2013 Pattern

The type of summer this year with well above normal temperatures across the UK and West lead to warmer than normal sea surface temperatures in an already warm North Atlantic background which allowed the ridge to persist well into the autumn. The flip to a negative NAO/AO lead to a cold North and Eastern continent but warm in the West due to warm water temperatures and the feedback of enhanced ridging. A summer hangover if you will. Now that the pattern had flipped, the feedback has shifted and rather than boosting upper level heights, low pressure and enhanced rainfall is dominant across Western Europe.

The warm, wet autumn and likely continuation through much of November leads to considerable rainfall anomalies for the autumn season 2013. A warmer but more importantly, wet autumn, often leads to a colder winter.

Sea Surface Temperatures

Below is the most recent sea surface temperatures and you can see how warm the North Atlantic is with the continued warm AMO but notice the tongue of cold water extending from the North America continent out into the central Atlantic. This contrast of warm and cold is likely enhancing the strength of the jet stream and low pressure production and intensity within the backdrop of a positive NAO/AO. Tis type of mild, westerly and unsettled pattern, like 2009 sets the stage of a colder winter.


Here’s the below forecasted SST’s according to both the CFSv2 and Jamstec model

Note the warmer than normal waters in the far north which supports high latitudes blocking as well as the North Atlantic tripole of warm-cold-warm over the North Atlantic which supports a blocking high over Greenland which encourages the trough and arctic air into Western Europe.






Currently the ENSO is neutral, neither an El Nino or La Nina and I believe this shall remain the same well into winter. While a neutral ENSO can be hit or miss in terms of European winter temperatures, equally it can support a colder winter. Some models and forecasters believe a weak El Nino will come on, that too can support a colder than normal European winter but it tends to be coldest on the back end. We saw this neutral status of the ENSO at this point back in 2009 and after a warm, wet autumn, the winter which followed was the coldest in my 30 year lifetime.


Current Arctic Sea Ice And Northern Hemisphere Snow Extent

As for arctic sea ice, it’s more extensive than anything we’ve seen in the past several years while northern hemisphere snow cover is above average. Both should lead to building of cold air faster and with the current +AO, the arctic reservoir is currently on charge. With more extensive sea ice there is less warm water explosive and therefore heat release into the atmosphere and so cold air should build easier and ultimately stronger at this time compared to recent years. In other words the arctic air which eventually comes south could well be stronger. The arctic sea ice and snow cover is more on par with 2009.


Low Solar Cycle And Volcanic Activity

While I’m not greatly experienced in the solar cycle and volcanic connection to long term climate variability, I am of the understanding that a quieter sun leads to colder times on earth and we’re heading back into the tank after a brief spike during the last 2 years. Interesting to see the ‘spike’ around the time both North America and the UK was warm. The downturn appeared to occur just as we got very cold towards the latter stages of last winter into spring. There is clear evidence which supports colder times in the mid-latitudes with increased northern blocking.

The current trend continues to head downward. We saw a real tanking back in 2009-10 when we saw the worst winter right across the hemisphere in some 50+ years. We could well see something similar this upcoming winter.

Take a look at the below chart which shows the downward trend.


As for volcanic activity. It’s been on the increase up across Alaska with a few eruptions here as well as across northern Russia. These high latitude ejections, along with low solar and warm SST’s also encourage high latitude blocking.

Here’s an image capturing an eruption of Kamchatka in Russia. It’s likely that only the bigger eruptions which spew ash and other materials up into the higher atmosphere, have effect on weather patterns but volcanic activity cannot be overlooked.

Mid-October eruption of Kamchatka in Russia.

Mid-October eruption of Kamchatka in Russia.


Trend In Arctic & North Atlantic Oscillation

When looking at the NAO/AO indexes, it’s important to look and notice the trend. A lot can be said for trends. What I have noticed is that we have seen two significant plunges into negative over the last 2 months and thus this suggests to me that we’ve more plunges to come. The low solar activity can lead to more blocking, thus negative NAO/AO episodes . While the last two have not supported cold into West Europe, keep in mind that as the autumn progresses and given the current pattern, both water temperatures change and the pattern shifts and so once into December, the same set of ingredients may not lead to the same result as what we saw back in September and October. Keep in mind that the water temperatures surrounding the UK will cool, especially with the current stormy pattern. Those deep lows will quickly remove a lot of the heat.





Positioning Of High Latitude Blocking Vital

Given both current and projected water temperatures across the Northern oceans with greatest above normal anomalies the further north, high latitude blocking is expected. We’ve already seen some considerable blocking and this should return after a brief break in coming weeks.

In the heart of winter 2011-12 on the heels of a cold 2009-10 winter and brutal first half to 2010-11, the winter was mild in the UK while just 200 miles to the east, it was the coldest since the 1970s, even 1940s from Belgium to the Ukraine. The United States had a warm winter but it was all down to the position of the blocking high. During the mild winter of 2011-12, the blocking high set up too close to the UK but far enough west for brutal cold to get painfully close.

The key to this upcoming winter is whether the blocking high can position itself far enough west, north or both in order for descending arctic air to reach the UK.

I believe we will see more of a west positioned blocking high this winter with wettest soils compared to normal focused over the UK and West Europe and the removal of the warmest sea surface temperatures from the UK into the central North Atlantic, should allow the mean trough to position itself over West Europe as a pose to more central or eastern parts of the continent like we saw during the past two winters. Have the warmest waters nearby and you hold the mean ridge overhead.

Long Range Models

As for the long range models, well they’ve been persistent in the blocking but position of the block has been erratic.







Monthly Breakdown

So, I think you’ve got the general idea that I am suggesting a cold winter but the question is how long, how severe and when. That’s the million dollar question. Yes I do think we have a significant spell of winter perhaps lasting 2-3 weeks solid and it should hit in the heart of winter. I am convinced that true winter hits in December and NOT in November. November though may turn colder towards the end, won’t bring us the start of winter, it’s not till we get into December do I think the true blocking pattern sets up to the west of the UK.

I think we could well go through the first 2 perhaps even 3 weeks of December before the cold hits and like in 2009 when the cold didn’t hit till around the 15th through 18th. Once it hits, it’s here to stay and from there on in, we could see repeat hits of very cold weather.

2009 was quite exceptional with major cold for Western Europe through the second half of December, a large chunk of January as well as both February and March. The current setup supports similar and whether as severe, remains to be seen.


It’s extremely tough to call exactly when the cold hits but I think it hits beyond the 10th with the plunge into negative in both NAO and AO. We could well see a fairly widespread WHITE CHRISTMAS across the UK.


January looks colder than normal but we could see a 10-14 day spell of mild in the middle with the NAO/AO flipping back positive. This may present a welcome respite from the bitter and snowy end to December.


The cold is likely to return full force during the second or later half of January as the zonal of milder oceanic flow fades and the reloaded arctic air decides to plunge south once again.

February looks to see a 10-15 day spell of bitter cold and snow with a strong stratospheric warming event and strong -NAO/AO.

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  1. KAZ says:

    Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!

  2. Jake says:

    I’ll read it in full, when my plan upgrades! Only registered this morning!

  3. Mark Vogan says:

    I sure hope so too, lol. Hope you all enjoyed it. Hope to get a video up today at some point.. I’ve tried to lay out all the evidence to back up my ideas so it’s not a wishcast. The cold could be late or early. Coldest could be mid to late winter, right in the middle or spread out throughout the season. I strongly believe the cold will come and right now I think somewhere close to what we saw back in 2009 (15 dec onwards). A lot more wind, rain and potential flooding before we get there I think. Will be updating throughout the next month and a half. Have a great weekend everyone.

  4. Adam says:

    how does warm SST to the north promote blocking, I thought warm SST more likely to support low pressure?

  5. Robert says:

    Very interesting……………lets see!

  6. Jake says:

    I hope this is right but many others going for mild

  7. Michael says:

    Keeping ny fingers crossed, Mark.

  8. perry says:

    Fingers crossed the you are correct on this. Will you be doing a video

  9. Julie Grey says:

    Saw today that Ken Ring saying white December likely in Southern Parts of Ireland! Will be watching with interest!

  10. Michael says:

    I hope this comes off Mark. Too many peeps going for milder than normal.

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