European Weather Roundup - late May/early June 2013

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  • Satellite image from 6th June 2013, showing persistent spells of sunshine over much of Scandinavia and the UK, while Spain experiences further unsettled weather (Credit: MeteoGroup).

    Severe flooding is ongoing across southern and eastern parts of Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic (Credit: PA Photo).

    Scandinavia has seen unseasonably hot and sunny conditions over the last few weeks, especially in the north and east, where temperatures have topped 30C a few times.

    Surface temperature anomaly map over Europe for the two week period between 20th May and 4th June 2013 (in degrees C) (Credit: NCEP/NCAR Reanalysis database).

  • European Weather Roundup - late May/early June 2013
    06.06.2013 17:45


    Over the past couple of weeks, Spain has been shivering, flooding has swamped much of southern and eastern Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic, while Scandinavia has been sweltering in one of the most intense late May/early June heat waves on record. Meanwhile, the UK has seen the weather improve dramatically since the end of May, with blues skies and warm sunshine replacing widespread cloud, heavy rains and suppressed temperatures.


    Spain has just endured its coldest May since 1985, with an average temperature of 14.6C over the country as a whole. This is 1.3C below the long term average. Northern Spain was particularly chilly, with Santander on the north coast experiencing its coolest May since records began there in 1951. Persistent north-westerly wind flows were to blame, with cool air from Iceland and Greenland frequently pushing all the way southwards towards the western Mediterranean. Snow cover over the Pyrenees Mountains has persisted far longer into late spring than is normal too.

    Despite the low temperatures, May was actually a fairly dry month, with Spanish rainfall approximately 25% below the long term average. Spain has experienced a drier and warmer interlude over the last few days, but more unsettled and cool conditions are on the way for this weekend. During the transition on Friday evening, low pressure moving eastwards is likely to trigger severe thunderstorms across parts of north-eastern Spain. There is the threat of squally winds, intense lightning and large hail.

    Heading across to the northern Alps now, a very active and slow moving area of low pressure brought widespread and very heavy rain to parts of southern Germany, Austria and Switzerland during the last few days of May and early June. The bands of rain intensified as they were continuously forced to rise over the northern slopes of the Alps. Between 250 and 400mm of rain fell in some of the mountainous areas within 3 days, but even lowland areas north-east of the Alpine chain experienced between 60 and 100mm of rain. Many rivers flowing through southern and eastern Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic are bursting their banks to record levels with widespread severe floods. At least 10 people are reported to have died as a result. Further heavy rain and thunderstorms later this weekend and early next week, over the same areas, bring the risk of a sustained period of flooding.

    Scandinavia has seen a persistent weather pattern of a different kind, with a large belt of high pressure stagnating across north-western Russia and Finland since the middle of May. This has brought a sustained heat wave and record temperatures, some 8 to 12C above the average, to northern and eastern Scandinavia and north-west Russia. Maximum temperatures soared above 30C over parts of northern Finland and Sweden in early June. To put this in perspective, the highest temperature across the UK so far this year is only 24C.

    This weekend, many parts of the UK will have further dry, warm and sunny weather with temperatures likely to hit 24 or 25C in some sheltered south-western areas. Eastern parts will have sunny spells, but low cloud drifting in from the North Sea may become more of a problem. Just the small chance of a shower, most likely over northern Scotland.

    By: Matthew Dobson