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Europe braces for intense Arctic outbreak and heavy snowfall across multiple regions

Europe is bracing for a major weather shift this weekend, as an intense Arctic cold outbreak targets eastern, central, and southeastern regions. The season’s most severe winter storm is set to hit the Balkan peninsula, potentially dumping up to 50 cm (20 inches) of snow across areas from Romania to Ukraine. This significant event is forecasted to extend into the end of November, contrasting sharply with the mild weather experienced in recent weeks.

After weeks of unusually warm weather, Europe is on the verge of a significant meteorological change. A classic dipole pattern is emerging, characterized by a robust high-pressure system in the west and a deep, cold trough in the east. Starting this weekend, this pattern will introduce a major Arctic cold outbreak across eastern and central Europe, extending to the Balkans.

As colder Arctic air clashes with warmer Mediterranean and Black Sea regions, a potent winter storm is expected to form over Greece, rapidly intensifying into a significant blizzard in Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, and Ukraine from Saturday to Sunday, November 25 – 26, 2023. This event is set to cover areas from Sofia through Bucharest to Odesa and Kyiv with deep fresh snow, reaching local accumulations of around 50 cm (20 inches) in just 36 – 48 hours, accompanied by strong winds.

In the wake of this storm, central Europe will be engulfed by a much colder air mass, with significant snowfall predicted for the northern Alps due to persistent north-northwesterly winds. Meanwhile, other areas will see less snowfall, as the initial cold blast will act more as a fast-moving frontal system with limited moisture, until it encounters warmer air masses towards the Eastern Mediterranean.

This major dipole weather pattern is a classic setup for an intense cold outbreak from the Arctic into Europe. Temperatures across eastern and central Europe are expected to drop significantly, around 8 – 12 °C (14 – 22 °F) below normal on Saturday. While the west maintains near-normal temperatures, the Arctic cold pool will intensify over Eastern Europe and the Balkans through Sunday and Monday, November 26 and 27.

The forecast suggests that this cold spell will bring much lower temperatures than recently experienced, well below the norm for late November. Particularly cold mornings are expected across east-central Europe and the Balkan peninsula on Sunday and Monday.

ecmwf_T850a_eu_26

Looking ahead, weather models indicate that the Arctic cold will persist and even intensify across central Europe by mid-next week, with potential westward expansion. A new winter storm is expected to develop over the Benelux countries, moving towards the Alpine region, bringing more snow to parts of west-central Europe and the Balkans.

With this extensive cold spread towards Western Europe, snowfall is likely to follow. Fresh snow is forecast over eastern France, Benelux, and Germany by Monday night, extending east-southeast over the Alps towards the Balkans on Tuesday. The most significant cold, however, will remain over Scandinavia and the Baltic region, with temperatures potentially dropping to -20 °C (-4 °F) or lower.

References:

1 A Winter Storm with Arctic Cold Outbreak heads for a large part of Europe – Severe Weather Europe – November 23, 2023

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