Sunday, January 24

Why is it going to snow more in Madrid than in Saint Petersburg: keys to ‘the great snowfall’

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The great snowfall caused by the storm Filomena -especially in Madrid and in the center of the Peninsula- will cause it to accumulate more snow in these areas than in Oslo or St. Petersburg, according to the meteorological portal

There is a reason behind this meteorological rarity and it is none other than the coincidence of two conditions that occur right now more favorably in Spain than in northern Europe: precipitation and cold air.

A strong high pressure blockage in the North Atlantic it is altering the polar circulation and the weather. Due to the powerful anticyclone over Greenland the flow of Cold air is being transported out of the polar regions and is spreading towards southwestern Europe. This mass of polar cold air is the cause of the low temperatures that are being registered throughout the peninsula.

Graphic representation of the two meteorological conditions.

Associated with this high pressure system, which extends from the North Atlantic to Siberia, a low pressure system is moving from the north of the Canary Islands to the southeast of the Peninsula.

The storm Filomena is the main center of this system of casualties, and the main cause of heavy rainfall that are taking place in the south and center of the peninsula.

Thus, the two ingredients necessary for snow to be produced are being produced at the same time: temperatures below 0ºC and precipitation. No matter how cold it is, without precipitation there is no snow possible.

In northern Europe, capitals such as Oslo or Saint Petersburg, where it has traditionally snowed much more than in Madrid, present similar temperatures but with less precipitation.

The freezing temperatures that are being registered in Spain are opposed to the heat wave over the arctic ocean. In much of Siberia temperatures are being up to 20ºC higher than usual. The high pressure system over Siberia also affects the north pole, where we have a low pressure system. This configuration is displacing warmer air from lower latitudes toward the Arctic Circle.

While in our latitudes we are under the influence of advection or penetration of cold air, the north pole is suffering the consequences of the advection of warmer air coming from lower latitudes.

This situation has led to lower temperatures in parts of Spain than in parts of the Arctic, a circumstance that will last for the next few days.

Filomena will continue to leave heavy rains in the Canary Islands, Andalusia and Ceuta and snowfall from south to north until at least Saturday, to make way next week to a drop in temperatures that “could exceed the thresholds of the cold wave.”

This was indicated by Rubén del Campo, spokesman for the State Meteorological Agency (Aemet), who has advanced that in the next few days it will continue to snow in many areas of the center and the east of the peninsula, where thicknesses of more than 20 centimeters are expected, which could exceed 40 centimeters in the surroundings of the Iberian System.

The forecasts of the Aemet suggest that as of next Sunday the meteorological situation is likely to “tend to stabilize” and that the combination of clear skies, light wind and snow on the ground could lead to strong frosts in the interior, on all in the center, with a sudden drop in temperatures to -5 degrees in Madrid capital or the -10 of Soria and Teruel.

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