The winter season of 2023-2024 is set to be influenced by the emerging El Nino, potentially leading to significant changes in weather patterns across Europe. The El Nino event, which is currently strengthening, is expected to be the primary determinant of weather conditions in the Northern Hemisphere during this period.
El Nino and its Global Impact
El Nino, also known as El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO), is a climate pattern that alters between warm and cold phases approximately every 1 to 3 years. The world is currently transitioning into a warm phase, also known as El Nino. This phase change is evident in the above-normal ocean temperatures observed across the equatorial Pacific Ocean. These oceanic anomalies signal that global weather patterns are shifting.
El Nino significantly impacts tropical rainfall and pressure patterns, as well as the complex exchange between the ocean and the atmosphere. Although the immediate effects are most noticeable in the Pacific region, the influence of El Nino spreads globally, affecting weather patterns across the world, including Europe.
Winter Forecast for 2023/2024
The long-range forecast for the principal ENSO region predicts a moderate to strong El Nino event by the middle of the winter. This event is expected to lead to considerable changes in weather patterns, particularly in terms of snowfall.
According to Severe Weather Europe (SWE) and the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), the winter of 2023/2024 is expected to have less snowfall than usual across most of Europe. The only exceptions may be parts of Central Europe and Scandinavia. The average snowfall from December 2023 to February 2024 is predicted to be lower than in previous years, with an uneven distribution of precipitation.
Specific Predictions for Europe
In January 2024, snowy weather is anticipated to arrive in Poland, with potential snowfall significantly increasing in most Central countries. Snowfall in February 2024 is expected to be less intense but still above average. The United Kingdom Met Office (UKMO) also forecasts a decrease in snowfall across most of Europe, though their predictions indicate a less drastic change in January than that forecasted by the ECMWF.
Understanding the Global Weather System
The global weather system is intricate, influenced by numerous large and small weather drivers. Apart from El Nino, two other factors are being monitored for their potential impact on the winter of 2023/2024. These include the Polar Vortex and a new anomaly high in the Stratosphere. How these factors interact and balance each other will ultimately determine the final weather outcome for the upcoming winter season.