MADRID – Spain has had its first real winter episode. Heavy snow showers and storms swept the northern and eastern half of the country with the cold. The last temperature was 12 degrees below zero and was measured in the province of Lérida.
Such a winter period was a bit early for the time of year in Spain. Last January, part of the country was surprised by a large amount of snow left behind by storm Filomena. Can we expect something like this again? To answer this question and find out what kind of winter awaits us, we looked at some forecasts from various sources;
- Eltiempo.com from Meteored
- The Spanish weather institute Aemet
- Various European weather models
- Jorge Rey, the young Spanish meteorologist, who relies on the Cabañuelas technique of his ancestors.
Now that November has ended with a midwinter atmosphere in much of the country, we are at the beginning of December, the first month of the climatic winter.
The late summer lasted quite a while, causing a rather abrupt transition to early winter. This was due to the succession of polar or arctic air masses guided by the anticyclone of the Azores and low pressure from the European continent. Will this be a foretaste of what lies ahead? And, what many Spaniards wonder, will we have historic storms like Filomena or Gloria again?
Winter warmer than usual
According to the predictions of Meteored’s models, all indications are that winter will be slightly warmer than normal throughout the Iberian Peninsula, albeit with nuances by region and month. The European Centre for Medium-Term Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) predicts that in December we could have temperatures up to 0.5ºC higher than normal across the country, except in the Canary Islands and on the Galician coast, where the average values at that time appearance.
From January 2022
In January, these deviations could become more pronounced. Values of 0.5 to 1 C higher than the average are expected in most of the Iberian Peninsula, except in the Valencian Community, the Region of Murcia, the Balearic Islands, the Andalucian coast, the western half of Galicia, and the Canary Islands. Here the expected values are slightly higher than normal.
In February, the situation would be similar to January, if the models regarding temperatures are met. This doesn’t mean it won’t be cold, but in general, it looks like anticyclonic situations could prevail, although the ripples of the jet stream could set off a major winter storm.
No signs of a very wet winter
With regard to rainfall, the outlook for December is not good for the time being. This month could be considerably drier than usual in southern Galicia, western Castilla y León, around the Strait of Gibraltar, and in some areas of Estremadura. In the rest of the Northern Plateau, Castilla-La Mancha, Madrid, Aragon, the Canary Islands, and Andalucia, less precipitation than the average for recent years is expected. On the east coast, the Balearic Islands, and on the Cantabrian slope, no deviations from the average are observed.
For the month of January, rainfall across the country is expected to be at the usual levels. It rains much more in the centre and north of the country than in the south. Only in the west of the Canary archipelago can January be a bit drier than usual, especially on La Palma and El Hierro.
Precipitation February 2022
In February, the maps show some changes. According to El Tiempo’s model, it will be wetter than normal in the region of Murcia, Alicante, and the eastern part of Almería. On the other hand, it remains drier than usual in the eastern part of Cantabria, and in the far west of the peninsula, it remains drier than usual.
Domination of high-pressure areas
The predicted distribution of temperature and precipitation anomalies for the next quarter seems to indicate the predominance of high pressures in the area surrounding the peninsula and in the Mediterranean Sea. Possibly combined with specific migrations of the anticyclone to Central Europe. This favours the introduction of easterly winds, which explain the precipitation anomalies at certain points in the country.
Severe winter and rainy spring
Spain’s youngest meteorologist, now 15, caused a furore with his accurate forecast of storm Filomena last year. He used the age-old ‘cabañuelas method’ instead of modern technological means. This is a traditional method used by farmers through the ages. Rey predicts this on the local radio in Monasterio de Rodilla (Burgos) where he lives. According to the young Rey, 2022 will be a year with a very changeable climate. “We expect a harsh winter, a rainy spring, and an unstable summer.”
Normal values or slightly higher for temperatures and precipitation
In the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, and Europe, forecasts from seasonal or long-term meteorological models are kept for the coming months (December, January, and February). The US model provided by NOAA says temperatures in Spain are slightly above average during the months of December through February. The amount of precipitation does not deviate much from the normal values.
The British with their Met Office model also predict temperatures slightly above the average for these months. The chance that they are higher than average is 50% – 60%. The precipitation situation will be perfectly normal with snowfall at relatively high levels.
The German model DWD agrees with this with a 40% – 50% chance that the temperatures are higher than normal. Rain will also be normal to slightly more abundant than usual.
The French model of Meteofrance maintains normal temperatures and normal to slightly more abundant precipitation, especially in the interior of Spain and the Pyrenees.
The ECMWF, European Center for Medium-Term Weather Forecasts also points to temperatures that are generally normal, occasionally a bit higher but consistent with the models above. The European model has proven to be one of the most reliable in recent years, according to Lugaresdenieve.com. As far as precipitation is concerned, no details are to be expected based on this model.
Another big winter storm like Filomena?
Another scenario such as storm Filomena for Spain is unlikely but not impossible, Meteored says. Both Filomena and Storm Gloria were extraordinary from a climatic standpoint. That makes it very unlikely that something similar will happen again this winter, at least not in the same areas. However, with the steeper ripples observed in the jet stream in recent years, no scenario can be completely ruled out.
According to Antena 3, the young meteorologist now indicates that the estimated date when another similar storm could occur would be January 24. So keep an eye on this date because Rey was one of the first to warn about the arrival of storm Filomena in Spain a year ago. In addition, he predicted in October that the first snow could be expected at the end of November.
According to the National Meteorological Institute AEMET, the probability of a storm of the magnitude of ‘Filomena’ to repeat in 2022 is “very low, about 1%” as these “extreme phenomena” occur “every long period” and “on “Although it is impossible to predict an extreme episode like ‘Filomena’ in the long term, storms with these characteristics are very unlikely and their return period is estimated to be about 100 years,” said Rubén del Campo, a meteorologist at the AEMET.