A very mild Valentine’s day

This week a strong high pressure system has set over central western Europe, causing sunny days and mild temperatures. Today, maximum values are far above the average mostly everywhere in Europe, with temperatures reaching 20 °C in the Iberian peninsula (Figure1).

maximum-temperatures-Europe-valentine-day
Figure1. Maximum temperatures observed in Europe today (source:Meteociel).

Temperatures between 10/15 °C are observed in all the Mediterranean region, France, the UK and Germany. Moving eastward values are lower but still above the average of February. Only in Russia and north Scandinavia temperatures are below 0 °C.

The weather today (Figure2) has seen bright skies over all W Europe and central Mediterranean region, with only some local fog at the lowest levels (mainly in the morning). At the edges of the high-pressure ridge, clouds and band of rain are observed in the north Atlantic and E Mediterranean, instead over N Russia and Finland snowfall is occurring.

satellite-imagery-valentines-day-europe
Figure2. Satellite imagery of today. I have added the main weather features (rain, snow, high-pressure). (source: Sat24).

This weather condition won’t change during the next weekend, with still dry and mild conditions in central/southern Europe. Colder air will reach tomorrow the E Mediterranean, though without ‘freezing’ temperatures. From Sunday, colder and moister air from the N Atlantic will try to push the anticyclone eastward, causing unsettled and ‘colder’ weather over the UK, France and Spain. We will see next week if there is going to be a change in the weather patterns, though it seems likely that the high pressure will be still steady for the next few days.

January 2019 in Europe: cold and ‘mild’, but without extremes.

In this article I am going to analyse the temperatures observed in some cities in Europe during January 2019. A former analysis made two weeks ago had shown that the first two weeks of the year have been cold (and snowy) in Southern and Eastern Europe, with observed temperatures lower than in NW Europe.

Now that January has passed, we can see if the trend observed at the beginning of the month has occurred also throughout the last two weeks or if it has changed.

In Figure1 I have plotted the average daily temperatures observed in 17 cities in Europe.

average-temperature-January-2019-Europe
Figure1. Average daily temperatures January 2019 in some European cities. I have grouped them according to the region.

We can see that E Europe and N Europe have observed the lowest average temperatures (Moscow is the coldest: -7 °C). Moving westward and southward temperatures rise, with positive values mostly everywhere (except in the Balkans: Bucharest -1 °C). The warmest cities have been Lisbon, Athens and Instanbul.

Regarding the anomalies of the average temperatures compared with the long-term average (1981-2010), in Figure2 I have plotted the results, in order to determine where it has been colder than the average and where it hasn’t.

daily-average-temperature-anomaly-Europe-January-2019
Figure2. Daily temperature anomaly observed in January 2019 in some European cities. In blue negative anomaly and red positive; and the bigger is the circle, the more significant is the anomaly (in terms of absolute values).

We can see how the most significant anomalies (in absolute values) have been observed in Scandinavia (colder temperatures) and E Mediterranean (warmer temperatures). Warmer than the average also in Germany, Iceland and Ireland (though the anomalies are mostly between +0.2/+1 °C). In southern Europe little negative anomalies are observed.

This ‘picture’ is different than what seen two weeks ago, when significant negative anomalies were observed in SE Europe and ‘warm’ conditions were observed in the north (especially in Iceland, UK and Germany).

This change in the weather conditions was due to a different type of air masses moved towards the continent. After the new year’s eve, cold air from Russia moved towards the Balkans and the Mediterranean region on the southern part of a strong high-pressure system positioned between central Europe and the N Atlantic. Instead, after the second week of the month, the cold air was flowing from Greenland and the Arctic (thus from the N Atlantic) causing a decrease in temperatures in Iceland, the UK and central Europe, and causing warmer air to flow from N Africa towards the Balkans and E Europe.

In conclusion, January has been ‘mild’ in some places (i.e. in central/western Europe, Iceland and SE Europe) and cold (compared with the average) in Scandinavia and Mediterranean region, though in both cases, the anomalies have’t been too significant.

Europe: first week of ‘spring’

During the last two weeks wintry conditions have occurred in numerous countries, both in W Europe and E Europe. Very cold temperatures were observed in Scandinavia and Russia and snow has fallen in many areas between central Europe, the UK and the Mediterranean region.

However, these weather conditions are changing, with milder air coming from mid-Atlantic and N Africa. Indeed, already today higher temperatures are observed (Figure1) with values above 10 °C in many areas in S Europe (especially S Spain, Italy and E Mediterranean region) and above 0 °C mostly everywhere, except in the Alpine region, Scandinavia and N Russia.

Europe max temperatures 4/02/2019
Figure1. Maximum temperatures observed today in Europe. (Source: Meteociel)

The satellite imagery (Figure2) shows the main features of the weather conditions over the continent.

A high-pressure is setting on W and Central Europe, with bright conditions in Spain, S France and central/N Italy and fog/low clouds between Germany and Poland. Between France, the UK and the N Sea a (weak) low pressure system is causing showers across England and Benelux.

Moving eastward, warm air from N Africa is causing settled and mild conditions in the E Mediterranean and convection is occurring between S Italy and Greece. This is due to a (weak) low-pressure system positioned close to Sicily which is leading to a temperature contrast between the (relatively) cold air from central Europe and the mild air from N Africa. Thus, convective cells are forming on the sea, causing numerous thunderstorms in the area.

Finally, in E Europe and Scandinavia cold temperatures are still observed, with snowfall between Finland and Russia.

satellite imagery Europe 4/02/2019
Figure2. Satellite imagery of this afternoon. I have highlighted the Tropical air (yellow) and the convection (red) in the Mediterranean region; the snow
(blue) at the ground in central Europe and Alpine region, and the low-pressure system (black) in the N Sea. (Source Sat24).

The weather conditions for this week will see an increase in the strenght of the high-pressure in central/southern Europe with settled conditions and relatively mild temperatures (though fog/low clouds are possible in the valleys limiting the increase in temperatures). In fact, from Tuesday possible peaks of 20 °C are expected in S Spain, Portugal, S Turkey and Cyprus. Temperatures between 10/15 °C are expected in S France, Italy and the Balkans and close to 10 °C in the UK and Central Europe. In addition, during the night temperatures will be close or slightly below 0 °C especially in the valleys (and in case of clear sky),causing a strong temperature gradient between day and night.

Only in E Europe and Scandinavia it will be still cold, though with values above the average.

On Thursday, colder air from N Atlantic should cause a slight decrease in temperatures (with frequent showers) in Central Europe, though with no snow or ‘freezing’ conditions. However, only from next week (so in 7 days) a more significant change in the weather conditions should be observed, though it is still too early to talk about its possible effects.

First day of the week: low temperatures in central and northern Europe.

During the weekend and today temperatures have dropped in central Europe and northern Europe, with ‘freezing’ conditions in some areas.

The minimum temperatures observed this morning (Figure1) are well below 0 °C mostly everywhere in central and northern Europe, with values between -5/-10 °C especially in Germany, Alpine region and Czech republic; in some areas (central Germany and in the Alps) values between -10/-15 °C are observed.

Moving north towards Scandinavia, temperatures are well below -20 °C, with peaks of -30/-35 °C especially between Sweden and Finland.

Cold conditions are also occurring in Russia and E Europe, instead moving towards the Mediterranean region and the Atlantic coast temperatures tend to increase, with values above 0 °C mostly everywhere. The warmest conditions are observed in S Greece, Cyprus and S Spain, with minimum temperatures between 10/15 °C in some areas.

Europe minimum temperatures 21/01/2019
Figure1. Minimum temperatures observed today in Europe. (Source: Meteociel)

The afternoon has seen still very cold temperatures in central/northern Europe, with numerous cities observing maximum temperatures below 0 °C (Figure2), instead moving southward and westward temperatures have been milder, with values above 10 °C especially in Portugal, S Spain and E Mediterranean.

Europe maximum temperatures 21/01/2019
Figure2. Maximum temperatures observed today (source: Meteociel).

The low temperatures observed in central Europe are due to the combination of the cold air, moved southward last week, with a high-pressure system (Figure3) settled on central Europe since this past weekend. Thus, the cold air is ‘trapped’ at surface causing temperature inversion (temperatures in the free atmosphere around 1500 m a.s.l are ‘warmer’ than at surface) and fog/low clouds.

Looking on the Atlantic, a low pressure system is moving towards the UK, leading Polar maritime air to move south-eastward (notice the scattered clouds).

Scandinavia and Russia are reached by very cold air coming from Siberia, which is moving southward towards central Russia (see the cold front, band of clouds, from Sweden to central Russia).

Finally, in the Mediterranean region settled conditions occur on the Iberian peninsula (positioned on the warmer side of the anticylone); in Italy a weak low-pressure system is causing overcast conditions and rainfall especially along the peninsula and finally, in the E Mediterranean, showers are occurring mainly in Turkey.

Satellite imagery of Europe 21/01/2019

Figure3. Satellite image of today. I have coloured in blue the Polar maritime air, in purple the Polar continental and in yellow the high pressure. Notice the fog/low clouds in central Europe. (source: Sat24).

The next days will see colder air towards the UK and W Europe, with showers and snow at low levels especially between tomorrow and Thursday, with the high-pressure moving eastward towards Russia.

The cold air will move towards the central Mediterranean region, causing the development of a deep low pressure system between Spain and Italy which will bring rain, strong winds and snow (at low-medium levels) along the Italian peninsula and in N Spain; some snow should fall also in the Po valley and Alpine region.

Later in the week, the low pressure system will move towards Greece and the Balkans causing unsettled weather.

In Central and N Europe instead, the weather will be nice (but still cold), with some snow showers especially mainly between central Sweden and Finland.

In conclusion, it will be a very interesting week, because of the presence of different air masses on the continent and possibility of snow at low levels in numerous areas.

Europe: a beautiful satellite image of today, with very different weather conditions

If we look at the satellite imagery of today (Figure1) we can see different weather conditions across the continent.

Between the UK and Scandinavia we can see the cold air coming from the Arctic, visible for the scattered cumulus clouds on the N Sea caused by instability (ocean surface is warmer than the air mass, thus the warm air lifts up in the atmosphere and condenses forming clouds and precipitation); these are causing scattered showers (mainly snow) in Scotland and E England, as well as a decrease in temperatures in the UK, Norway and N France.

On the west (in N Atlantic) a deep low-pressure system (989 hPa) is moving towards Ireland, though it will weaken before reaching the coast (between tomorrow and Saturday), so no severe event is expected.

On the southern part of this cyclone, less clouds and calm conditions are due to a high-pressure west of Spain, which is leading to a warm air advection from mid-Atlantic towards the Iberian peninsula (maximum values of +14/+17 °C today between Portugal and S Spain).

Instead, from E Spain to the Baltic region, a long and narrow tail of clouds stands for a cold front moving southeastward (causing rainfall and snow between France, N Italy and the Alpine region ); this is simply the front of the arctic air mass which is ‘pushing’ towards central-southern Europe.

Moving eastward, we can see how between S Italy, the Balkans and Turkey the weather conditions are ‘calm’, with clear skies (notice the snow at the ground between Greece, Serbia and Romania). Here, a high-pressure is causing settled (and relatively) mild conditions (maximum temperatures between +12/+15 °C in S Greece and Turkish coast).

On the northern side of the anticyclone, we can see another band of clouds (between Ukraine and Russia) which is related to a warm front moving eastward and causing snow at ground level (due to the negative temperatures at surface).

The warm front in E Europe and the cold front in central Europe are related to a deep low-pressure system (976 hPa) positioned between the Baltic sea and S Finland. This is causing intense snowfall in the area and quite strong winds on the Baltic sea, and it is leading to very cold air from NE Russia towards central Scandinavia, where temperatures close or below -30 °C are observed.

Figure1. Satellite imagery of today. I have added the different type of air masses and weather systems. Tropical maritime air (yellow), high pressure (orange), Polar Maritime air (purple), Arctic air (blue) and Polar continental air (dark blue). (Source: Sat24).

Thus, today has been fascinating on a meteorological point of view, and also the next days will be interesting due to the fast change in the weather conditions over Europe.

First two weeks of the year: Was it actually colder in S. Europe than in the north?

The first two weeks of January have seen very cold air coming from Russia towards Central-Eastern Europe, with lot of snow especially in S. Germany, Austria (more than 2 metres in the Alpine region) and the Balkans. Also in Greece and S. italy snow has fallen, at sea levels at times.

In northwestern Europe instead, and especially between France, the UK and the N. Atlantic, a strong high-pressure ridge has caused settled conditions for several consecutive days, causing also very warm air towards these areas and Scandinavia.

I have analysed and plotted the daily average temperatures in 17 countries (cities) and compared the results. This analysis is simply focused on considering the main cities, thus it is not a detailed analysis for each country.

The results (Figure1) show that in S. Europe (especially between Italy and the Balkans) the daily average temperatures have been lower than in central-northern Europe.


Figure1. Daily average temperatures observed during the first two weeks of January in Europe. Notice the cities are grouped according to the geographical region.

We can see how Rome and Istanbul observed similar or lower temperatures than London, Paris and Amsterdam (to cite a few). In addition, it is impressive to see that Reykjavik has observed a very similar mean temperature to the cities in southern Europe.

Also the Balkans have observed temperatures lower than in northern Europe, with Bucharest colder than Stockholm and observing temperatures very similar to Helsinki.

However, not all southern Europe has observed low temperatures; the Iberian pensinsula has seen warmer conditions (though with temperatures close to their climatological average), with Lisbon the warmest capital so far. This is due to the frequent flow of warm air coming from the Tropics caused by the high-pressure ridge set (since December) between W Europe and the Atlantic.

In E. Europe (Warsaw, Moscow) the lowest temperatures have been observed (which is also in accordance to their climate); these areas where directly influenced by the polar continental air coming from E/NE Russia throughout the whole period.

If we look at the daily temperature anomaly (Figure2) computed respect to the climatological average (1981-2010), we can see how Reykjavik has observed the highest values (almost +5 °C; the daily mean average temperature in January for the Icelandic city is 0 °C).

Overall, all the area from France to Scandinavia and Iceland has seen warmer temperatures, instead E Europe and S/SE Europe have experienced a colder weather.

Figure2. Daily temperature anomaly (with respect to the 1981-2010 average) in Europe during the first two weeks of this year. Negative anomalies (in blue) and positive (in red). The higher is the anomaly (in terms of absolute values) the bigger is the ‘circle’.

In conclusion, we can say that the new year has brought cold weather in the southern and eastern part of the continent (with snow in numerous and unusual areas); instead, the western and nothern areas (especially the countries along the N Atlantic coast) are still experiencing mild conditions (as occurred also in December).

First week of 2019 in Europe: between cold and mild conditions

The first week of the year is going to see two different weather patterns over the continent. On W. Europe, a strong high-pressure system will be positioned between the UK and N. Atlantic, bringing mild and settled weather in Spain, Portugal, Ireland (and western part of the UK).

Instead, on the eastern side of the anticyclone, a deep low pressure system, positioned between Sweden and Finland, will lead very cold air (polar continental with values between -12/-14 °C at 850 hPa (1500 m a.s.l)) to move southward during the week (Figure1) towards central-eastern Europe. In addition, the cold air will cause the formation of a low-pressure system in the Mediterranean Sea (between S. Italy and Greece) which will lead to snow at low levels and (very likely, due to the cold temperatures) along the coast of the Adriatic Sea.

Figure1. Synoptic chart valid for 00 UTC on Thursday night. I have coloured in orange the mild air moving towards W. Europe and in blue the cold air (polar continental, PC) coming from Scandinavia. Notice the 528 dam line reaching S. Italy and Greece (which means snow at sea level is possible). (source: Met Office).

The cold wave should reach the maximum intensity between Thursday and Friday, instead Saturday and Sunday milder air from the Atlantic should move eastward, pushing the cold air towards E. Europe and Russia.

Thus, during the week, the continent will be ‘divided’ in two parts, with temperatures well below 0°C (also during the day) in Scandinavia, Balkans and Central Europe, with snow expected especially between Poland/E. Germany and Czech Republic, and between Serbia and central/northern Greece and central-S. Italy.

Instead, warm temperatures on the west (possible maximum values between 8-11 °C in Ireland and between 16-18 °C in S. Spain/Portugal), with settled conditions in both Spain, France, Ireland and the UK (except for some low clouds close to the coastal areas and valleys).