For U.K., Europe, It's One of the Chilliest Augusts in Decades; Snow Possible in Scottish Highlands
By Jon Erdman
Published: August 22, 2014
Parts of Europe and the U.K. are being plagued by one of the coolest August spells in decades.
Forecast high temperatures the next few days were expected to hold in the upper teens to low 20s Celsius (about 62-72 degrees Fahrenheit) over a broad swath from England and Ireland to northern France, Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic and Austria.
"The cool Arctic flow will reach much of central Europe with temperatures 5-6 degrees Celsius below normal," says Leon Brown, meteorologist with The Weather Channel U.K.
(FORECASTS: London | Paris | Amsterdam | Berlin)
A few parts of the Scottish Highlands may struggle to see highs reach 8 degrees C (46 degrees F), nearing monthly cold high temperature records.
According to the U.K. Met Office, the coldest August daily high temperature on record in the U.K. was 8.9 degrees C (48 degrees F) at Lerwick on August 18, 1964, as well as three other locations on August 27-28, 1919. (The record only applies to locations less than 500 meters, or 1,640 feet, above sea level.)
Wednesday's high temperature was 12.1 degrees C (53.8 degrees F) in Lerwick. Scotland's coldest lowland spot was Loch Glascarnoch, with a high of 11.1 degrees C (52.0 degrees F). However, in the Highlands, Caingorm only reached a high of 3.1 degrees C (37.6 degrees F). Factoring in the wind, the U.S.-equivalent wind chill was in the upper teens there at times.
(MORE: U.K. Daily Weather Outlook)
Morning low temperatures on the order of 7-9 degrees C (44-48 degrees F) are expected from Ireland and the U.K to Poland, including London, Paris and Berlin.
Stansted Airport, located about 30 miles north-northeast of central London, dipped to 39 degrees F Thursday morning. Bournemouth, on the south coast of England, reached an astonishing 36.9 degrees F.
In Scotland, some sheltered areas may see temperatures dip close to the freezing mark the next few mornings, however record lows for the August 21-30 period in Scotland Highlands should be safe (-4.5 degrees C in Lagganlia on Aug. 21, 1973).
Persistent winds will only add to the chill over the U.K. and along the North Sea coast in the low countries of Belgium, The Netherlands, northern Germany and Denmark.
The U.K. Met Office mentioned a "risk of hypothermia when strong winds combine with heavier rain" in the Lake District of the north of England.
The culprit is a deep southward dip in the jet stream, or trough, anchored over the North Sea and Scandinavia, pulling cold air southward from the Norwegian Sea and Arctic. This feature looks to remain anchored in place through at least Saturday, putting a damper on the summer bank holiday weekend.
The U.K. Met Office continues to mention the chance of wet snow in their forecast on the highest Munro tops Friday. Munro tops are Scottish summits with an elevation over 914 meters (3,000 feet) that aren't separate mountains.
"It isn't that unusual (in mid-August) for some wet snow over the highest tops in Scotland above 1,000 meters (3,280 feet)," Brown adds. "As recently as 2010 there was fresh snow over the Scottish Highlands on September 1. I have been hiking over the tops of the Cairngorms in mid-August in snow!"
Incidentally, snow also fell over the Alps, as this photo from Austria taken at about 7,500 feet in elevation illustrates.
If you have travel plans to the U.K or northern Europe over the next week, pack long-sleeve shirts, long pants, and a rain jacket or wind-breaker. Skip the shorts.
MORE: Europe's Extreme Weather