During the coldest winters, you normally get some sort of signal like a few unusually cold days in the preceding summer or autumn or a string of unusually cool months, but this doesn't appear to have happened so far. The closeness of depressions 'diving' into the nearby continent giving us at times either a CNW or CN circulation is also a good indicator of a cold winter. The second week of December usually provides a useful guide in this respect, but we haven't reached this stage yet. There were however several indications of cyclonic NW or N during November, suggesting cold northerly outbreaks particularly in the early part of the winter.
The latest models at the time of writing seem to be suggesting a dry start to December with an Anti or ANW/AN circulation suggesting a milder option. We have to wait therefore to see what happens in the second week of December and see how depressions 'dive' into Europe close to or become 'blocked' near the British Isles. If they do, then I fancy a winter similar to that of 1967/68 that was colder than normal, although the timing of events will be different.
The low sunspot number also favours a colder winter, but these are more common on or just after solar minimum suggesting very cold spells this coming season rather than a particularly severe winter. Finally, there are the current wild swings of the 'Jet Stream' to consider that's forcing polar air far south and also tropical air far north causing extremes depending on what side of the trough the British Isles happens to be, which suggests both very mild and very cold spells.
I fancy cold northerly outbreaks during December mostly in the first half and again around or just after Christmas. There 'll be milder spells as well most likely in the second week and in the run up to the festive season. A drier than normal December seems likely particularly in the south, with some snow mostly in the north and east. The wetter periods should be briefly in the second week and and in the run up to Christmas.
Further cold northerly outbreaks may occur into early January, with perhaps a brief disruptive snowy spell followed by a rapid thaw as much milder air moves in. It could in fact be unusually mild around the middle of January, before a change in circulation pattern sees high pressure over Scandinavia or Europe becoming more influential. How far this extends west towards the British Isles however remains a problem. There could be some dull, misty, wet weather for a time and as temperatures fall, January could end on a much colder note perhaps with snow especially in the north and east.
February could also start cold, with low pressure in the vicinity of the British Isles giving further wintry showers. Disruptive snowfalls may occur mostly in the north and over high ground. It should then turn much milder again from the south bringing a rapid thaw, but with the return of grey, misty weather giving outbreaks of rain. The second half of February may see more in the way of high pressure bringing drier, quieter, weather, with patchy fog and frost at night where skies stay clear. So there you have it!
Please don't take the timing of the events above literally, they are simply a guide to give you an idea of what the overall winter should be like. Also please remember, what happens in the second week of December is critical. Winds between west and north with an anticyclonic bias will bring a milder winter, while these winds with a more cyclonic bias, should produce the type of colder winter shown above. As ever fingers crossed or it's back to 'the drawing board'.
Kind regards to one and all!
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