Europe winter seen warmer than average

LONDON Tue Oct 23, 2007 8:40am EDT

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LONDON (Reuters) - This winter is likely to be warmer than average, particularly in northern Europe, but cooler than last year, the UK Met Office said on Tuesday.

Last winter was the second warmest in Britain since the UK Climate Series began in 1914 and the weather was "exceptionally mild" across Europe, Britain's official weather forecaster said in its latest winter forecast update.

"Above-normal winter temperatures are more likely than below-normal temperatures over much of the European region," it said in a statement. "Probabilities for above-normal temperatures are higher for northern Europe than for some central and southern regions, where there is more uncertainty."

In north and northwest Europe and parts of the Mediterranean the odds for warmer-than-normal versus colder-than-normal are at least 60 to 40.

"Elsewhere, in parts of eastern and southern Europe, the odds are more evenly balanced, but still slightly favoring warmer than normal conditions," the forecaster said.

The latest update is broadly unchanged for the UK but now includes a forecast for the rest of Europe.

The 1971 to 2000 average winter temperature for the UK, for December, January and February, is 3.7 degrees Celsius.

But global warming means long-term averages for both summer and winter are becoming less relevant as temperatures in both seasons have been higher than average in recent years.

The Met Office said its forecast continued to point towards a drier winter than last year, one of the wettest on record, over the UK. But the forecaster said it was still unsure whether winter precipitation totals are more likely to be above or below the 1971-2000 average.

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