Update (30/11/23): Heavy snow blankets the Alps – is this a sign of an El Niño weather pattern?
After a mild October, the Alps has seen consistently cold temperatures in November and some huge early snowfalls. Check out our latest snow pictures here: ‘It’s snowing in the Alps 30/11/23‘
Ski bookings are reportedly up on last year and skiers are keeping an eye on webcams and flight prices. Also keep an eye on our weekly snow report published every Sunday.
Long-range weather forecast for winter 2023-2024
The long-range weather forecast for winter 2023-2024 in Europe is looking very promising for skiers! Climatologists are predicting an El Niño winter, but what is it and how does this effect snowfall in the Alps?
OnTheSnow knows how eager you are to get as much information as possible about this winter’s skiing conditions. We’ve gathered weather research from meteorological teams and summarised the facts to bring you our long-range weather forecast for winter 2023-2024 in Europe.
So what is an El Nino weather pattern and how will it effect my ski holiday in Europe this winter?
What is an El Niño weather pattern?
El Niño is a complex weather pattern which happens roughly every 2-7 years. It is caused by a variation in ocean temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific and this can have a huge impact on global weather. We’ve seen the La Nina weather pattern for the last three years, but Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology predicts that sea surface temperatures will cross the El Niño threshold by August.
El Niño and La Niña have their biggest impact on global climate during the Northern Hemisphere winter. So if the meteorologists are right and an El Niño is on the way, what does this mean for snowfall in the Alps? The last El Niño weather pattern happened in winter 2018-19 and we saw so much snow! After a warm start to the season, January 2019 broke one snow record after another. Austria reported seven metres of powder in seven days!
El Niño effects the long-range weather forecast for winter in Europe
How does the temperature in the Equatorial Pacific effect Europe? Well, according to the University of Leeds, it is the balance between high pressure over the Azores and low pressure over Iceland. This determines where rain goes in Europe during winter by pushing the jet stream. The jet stream is a band of strong winds that carries rain across the Atlantic. During El Niño winters, both of the pressure centres (over the Azores and Iceland) lose strength, and the jet stream brings wetter conditions to southern Europe.
What will El Niño mean for skiing in Europe 2023/24?
OnTheSnow has gathered information from leading climatologists on how an El Nino winter might effect skiing in Europe for 2023/24.
The Priestley Centre at the University of Leeds, say, “The largest effect is observed in northern Europe, where winters become drier and colder. A frosty 2023-24 winter season is likely if El Niño ramps up sufficiently by then. As a result of global warming, scientists expect El Niño’s influence over the North Atlantic and northern European winter will strengthen.”
Professor Adam Scaife, head of long-range prediction at the UK’s Met Office told EuroNews: “El Niño years have a tendency to have a mild wet and westerly start to winter (Nov-Dec) and a colder, drier end to winter (Jan-Mar) across most of northern Europe.”
If you want to better understand the El Niño and La Niña weather patterns, watch this video from the Met Office . . .
El Nino and La Niña © Met Office
Other factors effecting Europe’s long-range weather forecast for winter 2023-2024:
Well weather, as we know, is very hard to predict so far in advance. And that is why it is difficult to predict snowfall, especially for specific regions. Changes come from day to day. Weather often develops differently than meteorological models predicted.
Some European ski resorts are open all year round. Check out our list of open ski resorts in Europe.