Heatwaves and 'hurricanes': Europe's outlook

An unusual autumn weather pattern promises sunshine for many, but a major storm heads for parts of the British Isles.

    A fine spell of autumn weather is in store for many parts of Europe in the next week as a "blocking high" takes charge.

    Also known as an "omega block", this large-scale atmospheric feature tends to be slow-moving, meaning that settled weather conditions are likely to persist for a week or more.

    Not surprisingly, the best of the weather will be across southern Europe.

    For example, Madrid, Spain will see temperatures of at least 23C until next weekend at least. This compares with an October average maximum temperature of 19C.

    Rome, Italy is also expected to record temperatures 2 to 4C above the October average of 22C.

    Further north, Vienna, Austria is expected to be around 5C warmer than average. In Berlin, Germany temperatures will be up to 11C above the 13C average maximum.

    The downside of an omega block is often that, with longer nights and therefore, more nocturnal cooling, there could be issues with fog and low cloud.

    On the western periphery of the block, there is another feature which is causing great interest: Hurricane Ophelia.

    Ophelia is a Category 1 hurricane, lying almost 1,200km to the southwest of the Azores.

    In the coming days, Ophelia is expected to retain its strength as it gathers pace, passing just to the east of the Azores around 00:00 GMT on Sunday. Even though the islands will not take a direct hit from Ophelia, they will be battered by strong winds and heavy rain.

    Interestingly, according to weather.com, only 12 hurricanes have passed within 300km of the Azores in records that date back to 1851.

    This, in turn, poses real problems for weather forecasters and their computer forecasts. With little in the way of historical precedence to rely on, it is very much a case of "unknown territory" in trying to forecast the developments of such a storm.

    Current forecasts take Ophelia over western Ireland on Monday and this is sure to bring a period of very stormy weather.

    But the forecast track remains uncertain, and there will be added interest in this storm, as it will coincide with the 30th anniversary of what is known in the UK as The Great Storm, which caught everyone, including the forecasters, by surprise.

    It strengthened explosively before striking southern England, causing widespread damage, several deaths and uprooting hundreds of thousands of trees. The very landscape of England was forever changed by this storm.

    Hopefully, Ophelia will make less of an impact, but only time will tell.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies


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