Just in time for Boxing Day and the weekend, a storm system is set to dive into the United Kingdom and central Europe, on the heels of another storm that brought unsettled weather over the Christmas holiday.
Boxing Day shoppers should prepare for a windy and rainy day, and anyone expecting to be queued up outdoors will want to dress appropriately. While highs have recently been running above normal across the U.K., the storm will bring an abrupt change to cooler temperatures. By Friday night, winds will add to the chill, gusting past 50 kph (30 mph) at times.
While a majority of the precipitation in the United Kingdom will come in the form of rain, the Scottish Highlands will need to brace for a significant snow event, with 12-25 cm (5-10 inches) of snow likely falling across the higher terrain of the region.
On Saturday and into Sunday, the storm will shift focus from the British Isles to Continental Europe. With cold air moving in place ahead of the storm, a disruptive snowfall is expected to impact many locations in central Europe.
Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Switzerland, and northern Italy will all be in this snow area, with a widespread 5-10 centimeters (2-4 inches) of snow likely. According to AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Tyler Roys, "timing will be poor for holiday travelers, as snow is expected to be heavy enough to delay flights and slow down major and secondary roadways."
Southern Germany, and the Alps in Italy, Austria and Switzerland will be threatened by a more significant snowfall, with 15-30 centimeters (6-12 inches) of snow. Travel in any open mountain passes will be difficult at best, and even roadways in the lower elevations of the area will see delays.
"The storm will be particularly significant for portions of central and eastern France, much of Germany, and southern Belgium as being the first significant accumulation of snow this winter season," Roys said.
Farther west, a transition from rain to snow will mean that while major accumulations are unlikely, slick conditions and even minor accumulations are expected after the initial push of rain. Most of Great Britain, France, and the low countries should see snow mix in for the second half of the storm. While ground travel may not be as significantly delayed, air travel may see similar impacts as central Europe.
To add to delays, Roys expects many areas to see a rapid freeze during the second half of the storm. Any wet and untreated roadways could become perilous, regardless of whether or not snow sticks to the road surface in these locations.
By early next week, the storm will have shifted focus to the Balkans, although some light snow may linger in the Alps and the higher terrain of Italy. High pressure moving into the British Isles and western Europe will bring more settled weather by early next week.