Mediterranean: Abnormal Weather – The New Norm?

Are the tornadoes in Turkey, hurricanes force winds in Italy, blizzards in Greece the new norm or just exceptional and unusual? We take a look at what weather forecasters are saying about the latest extreme weather in the Mediterranean and Europe.

Published 5 years ago

distant picture of Athens covered in snow
Athens shrouded in snow

Unusual weather patterns are currently affecting not only Europe but many parts of the world. There has been record heat, wildfires and rainfall in South America and Australasia, dangerous and extreme cold in North America, and heavy snowfall in the Alps and Himalayas. Along the northern parts of the eastern Mediterranean and the northwest of Spain rainfall was much above average, leading to several rivers overflowing and a number of fatalities, according to the Copernicus Climate Change Service.

The website Severe Weather Europe reported that in January, severe winter storms hit the eastern Mediterranean, including a tornado in Turkey and south through the Arabian Peninsula, bringing a widespread dust storm from Egypt to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Iran and the United Arab Emirates, and brought heavy rain and precipitation to Pakistan and northwest India.

These exceptional weather patterns have continued into February culminating with blizzards in Greece and hurricane force winds (called a Bura) in Croatia, Italy and Malta. Further north the temperatures across Scandinavia and as far as Greenland were 10°C warmer than the average for this month.

The cause: a high-pressure system. In fact it was an exceptionally high-pressure system created by an extensive ridge that stretched across Europe and peaked at over 1045 mbar. On the eastern side of the ridge it produced very cold weather across the Balkan peninsula, the Adriatic and in south and central Mediterranean.

This cold airmass also produced a very strong Bura, which although short-lived, swept across Italy, Croatia and Malta and reached speeds in excess of 200 km an hour.

What caused the high-pressure system? Primarily it was a Sudden Stratospheric Warming (SSW), which occurred in early January. An SSW is a disruption of the normal wind patterns in the stratosphere and can persist for many weeks after the event.

The recent weather throughout Europe and indeed many other parts of the world has been disruptive and may well become more frequent if it is assumed that it is the result of global warming, but it is still a rare occurrence. That said, it is recommended that any boat owner planning on spending the winter in the Mediterranean with their boat, looks carefully at shelter and past winter weather patterns for the ports on their short list before making a final decision. Advance information on future weather patterns can be obtained from the Met Office Contingency Planning website offers.

As reported by:

Noonsite has not independently verified this information.

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