I keep banging on about the similarity between this winter’s pattern and 2011/12. That, like this year displayed relatively settled and mild conditions for the UK but cold over a large swath of the continent. Also like 2012, Southern parts of the UK have tapped on nearby cold continental air while Scotland, Northern Ireland, Northern England and Wales have remained mild with more cloud and moisture.
The first of two waves of Siberian cold sent temperatures to -54C in Russia, -43C in Finland, -41C in Austria, -37C in Poland and -32C in Italy. -32C in Moscow made for the coldest Orthodox Christmas in 120 years.
Powerful, ice cold bora winds brought huge ‘sea effect’ snows which crippled many parts of Greece, Balkans and Italy with the white stuff reaching the beaches of southern Italy and Greece.
Naples in southern Italy set a new all-time record low of -6C.
The second of the two waves of Siberian cold took Spain by surprise with snow falling on the beach at Palma, Mallorca while snow fell along the Costa Blanca and Murcia region of SE Spain for the first time in 80 to 118 years!
January temperature anomaly so far.
Winter 16/17 has been dominated by a positive AO/NAO like 2011-12.
While the final days of January may turn more unsettled with Atlantic influence returning, there is increasing likelihood that a sudden warming of the polar stratosphere is beginning to occur and this could trigger a rather different February for the UK. MANY models have an SSWE with major implications into February for the mid latitudes.
However, that statement warrants caution as SSWE’s are one thing but exactly where this warming and transfer from stratosphere to troposphere occurs is another and critical as to where the blocking highs and cold troughs form at 500mb beneath.
I certainly like the look of this… This is a view from high up within the stratosphere and the warming is likely stronger beneath the 10mb at 50mb.
The below CFSv2 weekly 500mb height anomaly charts suggest a somewhat stormier or unsettled period to end January but notice as we progress through the first half of February how the positive over Scandinavia builds WNW over Greenland and heights reverse throughout the Arctic.
The key is how much blocking we can get not primarily over Greenland but south into the North Atlantic thus determining both strength and positioning of the increasingly cold trough.
Based on the GFS, ECMWF and other global models and their SSWE solution, I believe February ‘should’ be the coldest month of winter for the UK and we may see the first real cold outbreak since November which of course was outwith meteorological winter. February shall also be another cold month for the continent.