Mild January/February expected for Europe - German forecaster

FRANKFURT Mon Dec 10, 2012 8:37am EST

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FRANKFURT Dec 10 (Reuters) - Europe is expected to have mild weather in the main winter months of January and February after a cold snap in December, German meteorologist Georg Mueller said in a monthly report on Monday.

"The general trend is still on the mild side for the main winter months (January and February) for northern Europe," said Mueller, who monitors weather on behalf of Point Carbon, a Thomson Reuters company.

He said apart from December, no major cold and dry spells were expected. Extremely wet and mild weather was also not likely as southern Europe in particular could be under the influence of high pressure.

Mueller concluded that temperatures were likely to be near normal and precipitation near or below normal, with no major windy spells.

Forecasts of likely weather patterns over the winter are important for electricity and gas companies which need to assess consumer demand for heating and lighting.

The power market in Europe is particularly vulnerable this winter because supply is tighter than in previous seasons.

Germany has taken a large chunk of nuclear capacity out of operation, Belgium is struggling with some unexpected reactor faults and French supply security is challenged by an ageing reactor fleet.

December in Europe so far has turned out colder than weather forecasts predicted in November. Temperatures are sub-zero and there has been heavy snowfall in parts of the region.

Another energy specialist, Weather Services International (WSI), last month said it expected warmer than usual temperatures between December and February for Europe, except for Britain and the Iberian peninsula.

(Reporting by Vera Eckert; Editing by Jane Merriman)

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