The long-range weather forecast for winter 2023-2024 in Europe is looking very promising for skiers! Climatologists are predicting an El Niño winter, but what is it and how does this effect snowfall in the Alps?


We know how eager you are to get as much information as possible about this winter’s skiing conditions, especially with the snow already falling across the European Alps. So what is an El Nino weather pattern and how will it effect my ski holiday in Europe this winter?

What is an El Niño weather pattern?


El Niño is a complex weather pattern which happens roughly every 2-7 years. It is caused by a variation in ocean temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific and this can have a huge impact on global weather. We’ve seen the La Nina weather pattern for the last three years, but Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology predicts that sea surface temperatures will cross the El Niño threshold by August.

El Niño and La Niña have their biggest impact on global climate during the Northern Hemisphere winter. So if the meteorologists are right and an El Niño is on the way, what does this mean for snowfall in the Alps? The last El Niño weather pattern happened in winter 2018-19 and we saw fantastic snowfall, so if that’s anything to go by signs are looking good!

El Niño effects the long-range weather forecast for winter in Europe


How does the temperature in the Equatorial Pacific effect Europe? Well, according to the University of Leeds, it is the balance between high pressure over the Azores and low pressure over Iceland. This determines where rain goes in Europe during winter by pushing the jet stream. The jet stream is a band of strong winds that carries rain across the Atlantic. During El Niño winters, both of the pressure centres (over the Azores and Iceland) lose strength, and the jet stream brings wetter conditions to southern Europe and colder conditions to northern Europe.

What will El Niño mean for skiing in Europe 2023/24?


The key here is that El Nino has the potential to bring colder temperatures this winter, and if it brings the precipitation to follow that can only mean one thing, plenty of snow. As a result of global warming, scientists expect El Niño’s influence over the North Atlantic and northern European winter will strengthen. This might translate to a generous amount of snow on the slopes, setting the stage for an unforgettable skiing holiday this winter.

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