As winter transitions into spring, changing weather patterns will bring a variety of weather to Europe, ranging from strong wind and rainstorms to dramatic temperature swings and prolonged periods of warmth.
Severe weather events ranging from frequent flooding to damaging thunderstorms are expected while a damaging drought is also likely during the spring months of March, April and May.
JUMP TO: Wet spring forecast with storms set to lash northern Spain and France to Germany and Alps| Drought to worsen for southern Portugal and Spain | Warmth to dominate Italy, Balkans and Ukraine | Stormy weather, flood threat to shift southward in UK | Poland, Belarus and Baltic States to endure temperature swings
A stormy spring is expected for a large portion of western Europe with impacts for France, Netherlands, Belgium and Germany.
The active weather pattern that persisted for much of the winter will continue into the spring as rounds of storms from the Atlantic will bring frequent episodes of rain and strong winds.
This barrage of storms will enhance the threat for flooding in France, but also bring locally damaging winds throughout the season. While coastal areas will likely experience the strongest winds, multiple storms may bring wind gusts in excess of 85 km/h (50 mph) to central and northern France, including Paris.
On the southern side of these storms, warm air and moisture from the Mediterranean Sea will fuel occasional strong-to-severe thunderstorms. Areas from Toulouse eastward to Marseille and Nice will be at the highest risk for these damaging thunderstorms.
A higher-than-average number of storms will also result in above-normal rainfall in Belgium and Netherlands. Damaging winds events are expected to be infrequent; however, one or two powerful storms could result in coastal flooding and widespread power cuts.
The Atlantic storms will track inland bringing rounds of rain to Germany, though the threat for damaging winds will be lower than areas from France to Netherlands.
While widespread damaging winds are not expected in Germany, the repeated rounds of rain will elevate the threat for flooding, especially in southern and western parts of the country. Farther north and east, rainfall will be largely beneficial following a drier-than-normal winter from Dresden to Berlin and Hamburg.
"The frequent storms will also bring snow to the Alps extending the ski season across the region through at least Easter," according to Accuweather Meteorologist Tyler Roys. While the ski season will be longer, there will be an elevated threat for avalanches as mild air from the Mediterranean Sea is pulled northward ahead of the storms.
While storms are expected to bring near- to above-normal rainfall to northern Portugal and far-northern Spain, central and southern parts of both countries will endure another season of below-normal rainfall.
"Parts of southern Spain only received 20-30 percent of normal precipitation during the winter season and this pattern will continue into spring," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alan Reppert said.
The drought that has worsened over the past several years will have no relief this spring with the most abnormally low rainfall expected in the hardest-hit regions from Andalusia to Valencia.
"The olive crop will once again be negatively impacted by drought having a major impact on olive oil prices around the world," Reppert added.
Spring will be in full force from Italy through the Balkan Peninsula and into Ukraine where unseasonable warmth is expected for long stretches from March through May.
A lack of cold air across eastern Russia will prevent any Arctic intrusions into southern Europe throughout the spring.
As a result, long periods of above-normal warmth combined with drier-than-normal weather will dominate the spring.
From late April into May, temperatures will occasionally soar to levels more common during the first half of summer, with the most intense warmth expected from southern Italy into the southern Balkans.
Air masses from the Mediterranean Sea, however, will set the stage for occasional severe thunderstorms from southern France through northern Italy into the northern Balkan Peninsula as storm systems passing to the north interact with the unseasonable warmth and rich Mediterranean moisture.
Locations such as Milan, Venice, Zagreb, Ljubljana and Budapest are at risk for thunderstorms capable of producing damaging winds, hail and flash flooding.
The winter months unleashed numerous storms on the British Isles as strong winds disrupted travel and brought power cuts.
The high frequency of storms also caused flooding over South West England, Wales and North West England.
The spring will feature beneficial changes for some areas while others continue to endure repeated rounds of stormy weather.
A southerly storm track will continue through much of the spring causing above-normal rainfall and occasional strong winds through Ireland, Wales and southern England.
Above-normal rainfall in areas that already endured a harsh winter will result in continued episodes of flooding.
Greater London, South East England and East Anglia will have an increase in rainfall during the spring. Following a drier-than-normal winter, however, no widespread flooding problems are expected.
Farther north, this southward shift in storminess will bring a reprieve to areas from Northern England into Scotland, with the weather improving throughout the spring months in Northern England. Generally near- to below-normal rainfall is expected in these areas while temperatures will be near to above normal.
While Northern Ireland and Scotland will not be free of storms during the spring, there will be longer stretches of tranquil weather following a very stormy winter.
The battleground between lingering winter chill and the return of spring warmth will be found from Poland into Belarus and the Baltic States during March and April.
Cold air will remain entrenched over Scandinavia making occasional intrusions southward into the Baltic States, with a brief chill being felt into Belarus and Poland.
"These cold intrusions will continue the threat for snow through Easter from northern Poland into the Baltic States," Roys said.
Storms tracking westward across Europe will help to pull warmer air from the Balkan Peninsula northward, bringing occasional bursts of warmth which will be erased by cooler air that follows each storm.
During the late spring, warmer air from the Balkan Peninsula is expected to surge northward bringing warmer periods to Poland and Belarus, an end to any long-lasting cold, and providing a good start to the growing season for farmers across the region.