While winter has spared much of Europe from extreme cold, many are wondering what spring has in store for them.
Following a winter that featured very active weather across southern Europe, a stormy start to spring is forecast which will lead to an elevated threat for flooding.
Spring will start off dry across the United Kingdom, but a change in the overall weather patterns looms from late spring into summer.
The changing weather pattern could also cause problems for agriculture in the Iberian Peninsula and across Eastern Europe.
JUMP TO: Wet Spring to Cause High Flood Risk for Italy and Balkan Peninsula| Severe Weather to Threaten France, Belgium, Netherlands and Germany | Dry Start to Spring for UK, Ireland; Seasonable Temperatures Throughout Spring | Early Rains Replaced by Dry and Warmth in Portugal, Spain and Southern France | Cold Lingers in East; Scandinavia Enjoys Mild and Drier Weather
The greatest concern for flooding stretches from southern and central Italy into the Balkans, reaching as far north as Hungary and Slovakia and as far south as Greece and western Turkey.
The combination of a wet winter which delivered large amounts of snow in the higher terrain and a continued stormy pattern will lead to this elevated risk for flooding. As temperatures slowly moderate, the snow pack will melt.
"The combination of melting snow in the Dinaric Alps and Carpathian Mountains will lead to river flooding," according to Meteorologist Tyler Roys.
As temperatures rise late in the spring and early summer, the threat will shift from flooding to localized severe weather from Romania into Bulgaria. These thunderstorms will be capable of producing damaging winds, hail and even an isolated tornado from late April into May.
While Romania and Bulgaria may get some localized severe weather, a more widespread severe weather threat will exist from the interior of Spain northeast through the interior of Belgium, Netherlands and Germany. A few strong to severe thunderstorms could also target Switzerland.
The setup for this severe weather will be based upon milder air building across northwestern Europe as high pressure builds over and just west of the region.
This mild air will be a key ingredient for thunderstorms as storm systems rushing into the region bring shots of colder air with them. The Atlantic air masses that will be over northwestern Europe for much of spring will contain ample moisture, a key ingredient for these strong to severe thunderstorms.
Roys added, "The greatest threats will be for damaging winds and hail; however, the strongest storm systems will be capable of bringing the threat for several tornadoes to areas from France into Germany, especially late in the season."
The spring will be full of variability in areas from Ireland and the United Kingdom into northern France, Belgium and Netherlands.
The season will start with generally below-normal rainfall as most of the moisture with storm systems pass to the south. However, as the season progresses, high pressure will build in the eastern Atlantic Ocean resulting in storms tracking farther north and through the United Kingdom and Ireland during mid- to late spring.
While the spring will turn increasingly wet from April into May, temperatures will remain near normal as a whole across the region. No extended periods of below-normal temperatures are expected as cold air remains entrenched over eastern Europe.
"A dry start to the spring will also provide favorable conditions for agriculture, including barley and sugarbeets, which are typically planted in March," AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist Jason Nicholls said.
The favored storm track in early spring will feature storms passing through southern Europe, bringing rain to areas from Spain and southern France through Italy and into the Balkans.
Unlike southeastern Europe, a pattern shift is expected in western Europe as high pressure builds over the eastern Atlantic Ocean by mid-season forcing storms farther north.
According to Senior Meteorologist Alan Reppert, "A large ridge of high pressure building over the northeast Atlantic Ocean will result in a change to much drier weather across Portugal and Spain early in the season."
This large area of high pressure will foster above-normal warmth and very little rainfall across Portugal and Spain from late March into April and May. As a result, the remaining rains through March will be vital to agriculture as reservoir levels will be tested by the extended dry weather that will begin by the middle of the season and likely linger through the summer months.
Two crops that could be impacted by the turn to dry weather include olives in Spain and grapes in southern France.
Following one of the worst years for olive oil production in 2014, another lackluster olive crop could lead to further increases in prices, as the Mediterranean region supplies the majority of the global olive crop.
A poor grape crop in France could have impacts on wine; however, the extent of this will be determined by irrigation in the region. A wet winter and early spring could allow water supplies to support the crops in Spain despite a turn to drier weather.
A ridge of high pressure will dominate Scandinavia this spring resulting in a drier weather pattern along with seasonably mild air.
A turn to drier weather will be beneficial for water levels which will likely be high following a wet winter combined with spring snowmelt.
Meanwhile, the same area of high pressure will result in continuing presses of cold air southward across eastern Europe. These colder-than-normal air masses will set the stage for early spring snow from the higher terrain of Romania into Ukraine and Belarus.
The overall cold weather pattern will lead to a lasting snowpack in this region that would likely delay the planting of agriculture during the early spring. A positive side to the snowpack is that it would provide ample moisture for crops moving into the summer months.