Winter is approaching and the first long-range weather forecasts for 2020/21 are appearing. Although long-term predictions are a bit like crystal ball divination, meteorological models are more or less the same.

Weather, as we know, is very hard to predict so far in advance. We cannot be certain of anything more than a few days in advance. And that is why it is difficult to predict snowfall, especially for specific regions. Changes come from day to day and the weather often develops differently than meteorological models predicted.

OnTheSnow knows how eager you are to get as much information as possible so we've gathered research from several meteorological teams about the weather and have summarised the facts to give you our long-range weather forecast for 2020/21.

As we move from autumn to winter, Accuweather's group of international forecasters predict the primary storm track across Europe is forecast to shift south with many storms moving over southern Europe and the Mediterranean Sea.

Despite the projection of a stormy winter for southern Europe, Accuweather's meteorologist Tyler Roys thinks it may not translate into good news for snow lovers across the region. "The one thing that I will say is that the Alps might be hurting for snow this year . . . especially on the Italian side of the Alps. He says: "A handful of ski resorts have already opened with early-season snow, but the poor conditions forecast for the middle of this winter could hurt resorts that are already struggling with issues surrounding the coronavirus pandemic."

Temperatures

Long-range weather forecasts for 2020/21 are suggesting this winter will be rather milder and warmer in Central Europe. The weather should be slightly above average in temperature compared to other winters, with average December conditions but warmer January and February.

Precipitation and snow

In terms of precipitation, this winter should not deviate from the average. However, given the expected temperatures, we should expect that it will rain more often than it snows, especially during January and February.

Although the winter should be warmer overall, this does not mean that cold fronts do not fall on us during the winter. We will definitely experience a few very cold days as well as heavy snowfall this winter as well.

It is more or less certain that the long-range weather forecast for 2020/21 will be influenced by the La Niña phenomenon. This will cause heavy rainfall in the form of storms and heavy rains in Asia and Australia. However, for Europe, it is not yet possible to determine how this phenomenon will affect the amount of precipitation.

What is the La Niña phenomenon and how does it affect the weather?

La Niña is a phenomenon related to the marine atmosphere and is the colder opposite of El Niño. Like El Niño, his "sister" La Niña is causing weather changes around the world. During the La Niña phenomenon, large masses of cold surface water are shifted from the South American coast to the central parts of the tropical Pacific. 

La Niña also causes a decrease in overall humidity and a decrease in precipitation in the coastal parts of North and South America. Simply put, the La Niña phenomenon is associated with a generally drier winter on the American continent, as well as more abundant and stormy weather in Australia and Asia. 

As for the impact of the La Niña phenomenon on the weather in Europe, it will depend on when the current La Niña of the CP (Central Pacific) type is changed to the EP (Eastern Pacific) type. This change will gradually bring warmer air, milder temperatures and also less precipitation to Europe. 

El Nino and La Nina (Credit Met Office)