Why are we getting these warm wild winds?

Is there a cold winter on the way?

Whilst our weather has warmed in the last couple of days with the arrival of mild westerly winds from the Atlantic, there are indications further afield which may point to a cold winter for Wales.

Scientists monitoring ocean conditions over the tropical Pacific Ocean have detected a warming of the surface water which is a strong indicator of the onset of a major global climate event, known as an “El Nino”.

These events occur every few years, and can impact climate globally. For example an El Nino event coincided with the very cold winter experienced by the UK in 2009-2010.

Commenting Professor Tom Rippeth, meteorologist says:

“There now appears to a very high likelyhood we entering an El Nino. Met Office research has shown El Nino events are one factor which can lead to an increased risk of a colder than normal winters here in the UK. However, studies of previous El Nino winters have shown it to be possible for the cold to be restricted to continental Europe, whilst the UK remains under the influence of milder westerly winds off the Atlantic.”

“Furthermore, the El Nino is just one factor which influences our winter weather. Last year’s severe winter conditions, nicknamed the “Beast(s) from the East”, were actually attributed to atmospheric disturbances over the Arctic.”

“Whilst I would say that on the balance of probability we will see a colder winter than usual, it is highly unlikely to be as severe as is being predicted in some quarters of the tabloid media.” 

Professor Rippeth is the professor of Physical Oceanography at the School of Ocean Sciences. He teaches modules on weather and climate at Bangor University and is an expert on role of the ocean in UK Weather and Climate.

Publication date: 29 November 2018