October Alpine snow? What will the winter 2011/2012 bring?

Posted: October 2, 2011 by tchannon in weather

Figure 1

We have had unusual weather in Europe over the past few years and so a question many are now asking is what will winter 2011/2012 bring?

I noticed what might be early October snow for the Alps, they have had one minor spate already. This is for next weekend, 8/9th Oct 2011, assuming of course the models forecast correctly. A week ahead is improbable when there are unstable conditions.

A cold blast from the Arctic is expected either way as the recent blocking high vanishes. The recent brief Indian summer in England, last day tomorrow.

Figure 1 is a composite of precipitation and temperature from the excellent Meteox web based weather service. I have added arrows and text on what I think it shows.

Meteox is providing what the regional European weather services do not, an overall view of all Europe. They co-operate with the regional services.

The future?

In northern Europe we had an early blast of cold during December.

Looking at history I found no instances of two blasts of cold but early cold is less common, does happen. A result of this has turned agriculture and horticulture upside down during 2011, confusing plants. In essence we had no summer, an enduring complaint from elsewhere in Europe in recent years. (not strictly true but poor weather has been widespread)

Looks like we have a double season, perhaps leading to double tree rings a known happening, just as missing rings are known.

I had a look at CET daily data, using my own signal processed version of daily. There is a problem with the traditional meteroloy maths which leads to artefacts and errors, essentially Nyquist and Shannon troubles.

In the case of the winter 2010/2011 the cold blast was during December, note the underline. That is picked up by conventional math but if the same length blast was centred between two months the math will fail to show the magnitude of the cold. In my opinion this is likely the skew historic temperature rankings.

I have a high resolution plot but it is too large for reasonable viewing, however if seen together with some of the textual historic weather reports it is fascinating.

That said things are never so simple. CET is a vague average for England but England has sharp variations. For example, the heat and drought they have had recently in the East Anglia area is very local.

I have no doubt there are patterns and some are not yet found.

Coming winter?

Don’t look at me. The sun has been both asleep and somewhat active. There is plenty of reason to suppose we are heading into a different weather regime and I am old enough to have seen plenty.

  1. Tenuc says:

    Following the coldest summer for ~20y, I’m not optimistic about what our winter will bring.

    The CET for the summer months were as follows…

    June CET = -0.4 below mean

    July CET = -0.8 below mean

    August CET = -0.4 below mean

    The summer was also wetter than average across the UK with many, many grey days blotting out the sun. However, down in the SE, plant growth has been very good with huge amounts of berries and nut available for the wild life to enjoy.

    In view of above I’m expecting another cold winter again, with plenty of snow and ice to enjoy. It will be good to get some skiing up on the South Downs again!

  2. R. de Haan says:

    We’re back at the seventies.

    And honestly, I haven’t seen anything new on the weather front that I haven’t seen before.

    The real extremes in past European weather coincided with volcanic eruptions, the only meteorological.

    All the rest is business as usual.

    I think I can live with that.

    What’s harder to swallow is the clueless European politics, the economy and the rising prices of food and fuel.

  3. R. de Haan says:

    Cosmic and geological events like the current status of our sun, earth quakes and volcanic eruptions are calculated based on time scales beyond the life span of a single human life.

    But today we are witnesses of a remarkable period in time, unprecedented for our generation.

    The current solar minimum coinciding with a cooling climate and a steep raise in seismic and volcanic activity.

    Today we have two volcano’s with the potential to seriously screw up the weather conditions in Europe as both volcano’s are subject to serious caldera quake swarms indicating the transportation of magma to the surface.

    The volcano’s are Katla, Iceland: http://en.vedur.is/earthquakes-and-volcanism/earthquakes/myrdalsjokull/

    and El Hierro, Canary Islands: http://www.jonfr.com/volcano/?p=1581

    These volcano’s have become active at a back ground of increased seismic activity in general.

    Magnitude 8 – 9.9
    2011 Earthquakes (1)
    annual average (1)
    100% of 20yr. YTD avg. until day #276

    Magnitude 7 – 7.9
    2011 Earthquakes (16)
    annual average (15)
    148% of 20yr. YTD avg. until day #276

    Magnitude 6 – 6.9
    2011 Earthquakes (159)
    annual average (134)
    157% of 20yr. YTD avg. until day #276

    Magnitude 5 – 5.9
    2011 Earthquakes (1,914)
    annual average (1,319)
    192% of 20yr. YTD avg. until day #276

    Data from http://modernsurvivalblog.com

    We only have to look at the frequency and impact of recent earth quake disasters to know we are navigating different waters now.

    I never imagined to experience a period in my life time where I would be eye balling an upcoming winter period in Europe with a potential volcanic eruption in the back of my mind.

    Today this is a new reality.

    And we’re having a front row seat.

    Isn’t it great?

  4. adolfogiurfa says:

    @R.de Haan: “Interesting times” indeed!….but politicians and accolites will attribute these phenomena to GW, buying carbon shares will be mandatory 🙂

  5. Tenuc says:

    adolfogiurfa says:
    October 5, 2011 at 3:34 pm
    ….but politicians and accolites will attribute these phenomena to GW, buying carbon shares will be mandatory.

    A little bit of good news here – perhaps first signs that British politicians are realising their stupidity…

    “George Osborne has vowed that the UK will not lead the rest of Europe in its efforts to cut carbon emissions, raising the prospect that the country’s carbon targets could be watered down if the EU does not agree to more ambitious emission reduction goals.

    In a potentially explosive intervention, Osborne insisted the government will only cut emissions in line with its neighbours in order to ensure British businesses are not put at a disadvantage.”

    Link to full Grauniad article here:-


  6. R. de Haan says:

    Also read James Delingpole:
    UK Shale Gas could rock Government Coalition

  7. R. de Haan says:

    Only if we let them…

  8. tchannon says:

    Also keep in mind the sun is approaching solar max but the magnetic zero crossing has moved little so it is not yet.

  9. adolfogiurfa says:

    Polarity change expected in 2012: http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/LFC2.htm
    (it looks like the Sun needing CPR)

  10. HR says:

    The N.American news today was reporting snow on the way, pointing out that the the late thaw last spring means that the no-snow period is one of the shorter periods. Unfortunately I wasn’t listening closely to the details so don’t know the record breaking period but it’s obviously noteworthy.

    I had a play with the GISSTEMP tool to look at the past couple of winters compared with the previous decade, it does look like something is going on in the whole of the northern hemisphere mid-latitudes.

    GISTEMP link

  11. tchannon says:

    Looks like my forecast was correct, put another way the models were about right. Doubt it will be heavy snow.

  12. Ulric Lyons says:

    My solar based CET forecast for Oct showed a very warm start to the month, with a drop in temp`s from around the 4th to 10th, and then returning to above normal temp`s for most of the rest of the month.

    High pressure to the south of the UK is likely to re-establish and strengthen:

    The AO and NAO are both becoming more positive, reducing the chance of Arctic blasts:

  13. tchannon says:

    Seems to me the critical factor in the northern temperate climate region is circulation blocking patterns, leading to 1 to 6 week episodic stable hot or cold weather.

  14. Ulric Lyons says:

    T.C., the solar signal will be determining the jet stream flow patterns, as well the timing of the cold plunges and their recovery.

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