Meteorological officials in the United Kingdom are warning that the upcoming winter season could arrive early, and see both record snowfall and low temperatures. The conditions are expected to either reach or surpass conditions in the winter of 1962-63, when temperatures plunged to -20ºC.
The cause for this bleak forecast is due to the recent weakening of the Gulf Stream current in the North Atlantic, of which would normally bring warm water to the UK from further south. This situation is also being exacerbated by the current period of reduced solar output, and may be affected further by the super-El Niño currently being experienced in the Pacific.
"October is likely to see a real chill at times in terms of temperatures due to below-average sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic and a virtually non-existent Gulf Stream," explains Exacta Weather forecaster James Madden. “This is of some real significance to us in terms of future weather patterns, and this is also likely to result in a much colder than average November with the first significant snow of the year in parts of the north."
Britain’s Meteorological Office, more popularly known as the Met Office, is forecasting a number of weeks of odd weather, then expects temperatures to drop below average going into October. Emergency services have been warned to expect conditions similar to the record-breaking winter of 1962-63, where temperatures dropped low enough to freeze the River Thames, and could cause major transportation and fuel delivery problems.
University of Texas Institute of Geophysics associate Jud Partin says that Northern Europe could face many years of colder winters, thanks to the current conditions in the Atlantic. “A slowdown of the ocean circulation is a double-edged sword. If we see some temperature changes associated with it … and somehow are quick to act and alleviate the change, then we have the potential to stop it.”