Forecasters predict a big freeze this winter

Forecasters predict a big freeze this winter

According to forecasters at the Met Office, Britain may be facing one of its worst winters since 1950.

The last time the UK had an icy winter was in the period 2009/10. During this time temperatures dropped to -22.3C in parts of Scotland. There was record snowfall in many parts of the country.

Experts are predicting that the “El Nino” weather phenomenon will cause temperatures in the UK to plummet this winter.

What is an El Nino

This is a complex weather pattern that occurs when ocean temperatures rise in the Pacific due to a change in wind direction. This heat up of the ocean in the Pacific has knock on effects in other parts of the world such as pushing jet streams further south.

The UK relies on warmth brought from the Gulf Stream to keep our winters mild. A drop in temperature could mean heavier snowfall this winter.

According to BBC forecaster Thomas Shafernaker, “In Europe sometimes winters end up much colder and drier and last much longer into spring. In 2010, El Nino played an important part in bringing huge amounts of snow to the UK.

Forecasters are quick to point that despite the strong indications, it is very difficult to accurately predict at this stage the full impact of the El Nino on UK weather systems.

According to climatologist Dr. Doug Smith, “The El Nino is one of the most important factors in our weather. But there are other things such as the North Atlantic Oscillation and Sun output. It is not clear right now and we will know more in November.”

Chief Meteorologist at the Weather Channel, Leon Brown, believes that there should be cause for concern with this particular El Nino.

“The latest indication suggests [the El Nino] is starting to move westwards and is cooling near the South American coast.

He continues, “If that happens then the impact may shift the jet stream and give us a greater risk of a colder Atlantic Oscillation this winter, which will bring us colder winters.”

Consequences of El Nino

They are linked to major climate and weather changes in Europe, North America and Australia. El Nino means “boy child” in Spanish as it was first observed at Christmas.

Capable of causing heavy rain, snowfall and storms, it can lead to severe flooding in Australia.

Consequences of bad El Ninos are reflected in rising food prices with staples such as coffee, rice, sugar and cocoa most affected. These crops are grown in tropical areas, often bearing the brunt of flooding and draughts caused by El Nino weather.

According to Dr. Nicholas Klingaman from the University of Reading, “crop prices rise by about five to ten percent, particularly for staple crops [sugar, rice, coffee and cocoa] because El Nino causes floods and draughts in many tropical regions where these crops are grown.”