After a week or more of temperatures from Britain to eastern Europe running as much as 20 degrees above average, forecasters are saying the region will be plunged into record cold next week with a likelihood of snow in some areas.
Meteorologists say a strong high pressure system remained over much of Europe the last half of March, trapping heat below it. Monthly high temperature records have fallen in at least three countries.
Germany and the Netherlands Wednesday set all-time March records, reporting highs of 27.2 degrees Celsius and 26.1 degrees Celsius, respectively. In Britain Tuesday, Kew Gardens, about 15 kilometers west of London on the River Thames, hit 24.5 degrees Celsius, the highest March temperature in Britain since 1968.
French meteorologists also recorded warmth Tuesday as the nation’s average temperature was higher than on any other March day in recorded history. More than 220 weather stations, or roughly 37% of France’s network, observed new maximum March temperatures.
Climate scientists say these are the latest in a series of heat records that are disproportionately outpacing the occurrence of cold extremes, largely the product of a changing climate and a planet whose temperatures are skewed hot. The warm weather also made COVID-19 restrictions all the more difficult to enforce in many areas, said officials.
But forecasters say that will come to a dramatic end in the next three to five days, as models show a wave in the jet stream forcing out the high pressure and allowing much colder Arctic air into the region, swinging temperatures from record highs to record lows for this time of year.
Forecasters say the frigid air is likely to drop temperatures below 0 Celsius in some areas with snow likely in Scotland and higher elevations of Italy and eastern Europe.