The current cold spell that has paralyzed much of Europe and reportedly killed almost 300 people over the past week should start to ease slowly from next week, a senior official at the United Nations World Meteorological Organization (WMO)
Omar Baddour, the chief of global climate monitoring at WMO, told reporters in Geneva that the current “negative Arctic Oscillation” – a weather phenomenon which leads to cold conditions in Europe and relatively warmer conditions in the Arctic – should shift into a more neutral pattern within the next two to three
“So, based on this indicator, we might expect – it’s not a deterministic
forecast – [but] we might expect the changing of the current cold wave might
start easing slowly from next week to the end of the month,” he said.
Extremely low temperatures have been recorded over much of Europe in the past
week, with Ukraine, Poland, Russia, Belarus and Latvia among the countries most
affected. Substantial snowfalls have also been reported in numerous countries,
including as far south as Algeria and Italy.
In an update issued today, WMO said
the low temperatures have by and large not set records.
“The long duration of the cold period, its relatively late onset and the extent
of the cold area are noteworthy but not exceptional,” the agency stated.
WMO said a very stable high pressure system originating in Siberia in eastern
Russia in mid-January had allowed a continuous flow of cold air to persist and
also prevented milder temperatures and maritime storms from moving from the
Atlantic Ocean eastwards into Europe.