Could Britain Be in for a 5-Month Arctic Winter?

18 September 2015, 16:16

Remember a few years’ ago Britain endured one of the coldest winters in several decades? It could be about to happen again.

According to news reports released in the past few days, Britain might be on the verge of heading into one of the coldest winters we have seen since the Sixties. Back then Britain had snow for five solid months. Even the sea started to freeze over in parts. Could we really be about to go into another bitter winter like that?

If we do, it could all be due to El Nino. This is the phenomenon that occurs when the eastern portion of the Pacific Ocean sees rising temperatures. In turn, the polar jet stream ends up going further south than it normally would. This jet stream usually keeps Britain warmed up sufficiently to prevent most of the snow we would otherwise get. El Nino was strong in the winter of 2009/10 – and that’s the winter we had all the snow.

So if El Nino is predicted to be even more powerful this year, could we be in for another freezing winter?

Many people are sceptical. For starters, long-range forecasting doesn’t go beyond a couple of months’ ahead. That puts us in November, before any real snow is likely to arrive. The months from December through until February are most likely to see snow if any does turn up. Secondly, long-range forecasting is notoriously unreliable anyway. It gives us an idea of what might happen, but that is about it.

In addition, El Nino is not the only thing that can affect the severity of the British winter. There are many other factors that can come into play as well. So while this year’s El Nino could be more dramatic than usual, it may not necessarily lead to huge swathes of snow blanketing the country as they did before.

At the present time, everyone is reading about the warnings and wondering whether plummeting temperatures will be experienced. They are also wondering whether this winter could turn out to be mild. After all, last year was predicted to be cold with plenty of snow everywhere, and nothing of the sort happened. For most people it was an anti-climax of epic proportions, instead of a snowy winter of epic proportions.

So perhaps we should just keep an eye on the long-range forecast and on the more immediate weather warnings that might be coming our way. This will ensure we get the latest weather information, temperatures and snow warnings – if there are any. Although if El Nino has anything to do with it, this year might well be an epic winter for many of us. Perhaps we will look back on this news item and smile at how accurate it was…