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Winter Weather in Europe- How Will Planting be Affected?

Scott Patterson • January 17th, 2024.

Map of 2024 Cold in Europe

Compared to last year, winter weather in Europe is starting off 2024 wet with heavier snow returning to the Alps and periods of heavy rain to France, Germany and southern England. Colder temperatures have finally settled in a little bit over this region and it may feel like winter. Spain and much of Italy have been warmer and drier, while Scandinavia has been the ice box, although not seeing as much snow as areas to the south.

Reminder of Winter

While El Niño brings extreme drought and floods to other parts of the world, it will continue to have a minor influence on Europe. Instead, a weather pattern over Greenland will continue to funnel colder air into Scandinavia and at times into Central Europe, while a stream of mild, moist air moves in off the Atlantic. Together, these weather patterns will bring more rounds of snow to the Alps and lower elevations of France and Germany, while heavier rains will finally make it more into Portugal and Spain.

The Risks

Heading into February and through the first 2 weeks of March will see the biggest risk for much colder, but drier weather to push from Scandinavia into much of eastern Europe, but there is even a significant risk these colder temperatures will push further west into the UK and France. If this occurs it will bring snow levels down to sea level in much of northern France, Netherlands and Germany, while increasing pushing the heavier rainfall down across the Mediterranean.

Map of Cold Outbreak Risk in Europe Feb-Mar

The Implications for Spring and Planting

Although a cold outbreak could persist into the start of March it will quickly end by the second week and warmer temperatures will return, but along with a wetter weather pattern. While a quick warm up may sound appealing to some, it will likely lead to flooding of lowlands as rain falls across valley snow and snow in the mountains melts and runs off into the rivers. Flooding and very wet soil will be the biggest threats heading into mid-March into April.

Crops such as rice in France may favor the wet conditions, but other crops such as spring barley may be faced with cold soil temperatures and soaking wet soil too wet to plant.

Risk for wet soil and flooding March-April

Overall

The risk is there for a cold surge to finish off the winter season across much of Europe. If this risk occurs then the result may be that the soil is not favorable for early planting of crops in March across much of central and western Europe.

As the global El Niño weather pattern is expected to weaken by late Spring with a possible return to the La Nina that was in place the previous 4 years, a drier, hotter summer is on the table for 2024.  Contact ClimateAi for more details about specific farm locations in Europe.

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