Damaging winds, rough seas threaten western Europe as parade of storms continues

Maura Kelly
·4 min read

A stormy pattern that began in late November across Europe is expected to continue through the early stages of December. As one storm continues to drench south-central Europe, a new storm is predicted to impact a large swath of the continent through the end of the week.

As this second storm sinks south over the British Isles on Wednesday night, it will bring a fresh round of showers and chilly air to the region.

By Thursday, showers will spread over much of the area from the United Kingdom, Ireland and the Netherlands to France and northern Spain as the storm stalls over the British Isles and northern France. Pockets of heavier rain are expected to develop, especially across parts of western France.

Areas of rain are forecast to linger over this portion of western Europe into the beginning of the weekend, and rainfall totals of 13-25 mm (0.50-1.00 inch) will be common. Some localized locations can receive 50 mm (2 inches) of rain, which can lead to flooding in low-lying and poor drainage areas.

With colder air arriving with this storm, precipitation can fall as a mix of rain and snow in higher hills and mountains of the U.K. and France. In the highest elevations, just snow is possible which can create dangerous travel conditions.

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This slow-moving storm will also be in the ideal location to usher in strong wind gusts across western Europe. West to northwesterly winds can gain speed over the Atlantic Ocean and into the Celtic Sea, the English Channel and the Bay of Biscay as the storm intensifies.

"Damaging wind gusts will arrive across western and northern coastal France Thursday evening and across coastal northern Spain and Portugal late Thursday night into Friday morning," said AccuWeather Meteorologist Isaac Longley.

Longley added that wind gusts of 80-97 km/h (50-60 mph) could be expected across this region with an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 120 km/h (75 mph). Winds of this magnitude can lead to downed tree branches, some weaker trees and power lines and can cause damage to weaker structures.

Strong wind gusts can also spread across the rest of Spain and France, as well as Benelux from late Thursday night and into Friday. While gusty, winds are less likely to be damaging in these areas.

There is the potential for these strong wind gusts to become widespread enough for this system to be considered a windstorm. If given a name by a meteorological service in the U.K., Ireland or the Netherlands, the storm could be called Bella. However, if the name is assigned by either France, Spain, Portugal or Belgium, it could be referred to as Dora.

A strong onshore flow through the end of the week can cause coastal flooding along exposed beaches as well as large swells on the various bodies of water.

While strong winds will be the biggest threat to western countries, a new threat will emerge across south-central Europe as the storm expands into the area late this week and into the weekend.

Once the storm reaches far enough south, it will be able to draw in moisture from the Mediterranean Sea. This will help to fuel areas of heavy rain and thunderstorms across Italy as well as western portions of the Balkan Peninsula. Forecasters warn that some of these storms could produce flash flooding and damaging wind gusts.

Areas of flooding and an increased risk for mudslides will be likely as this same area is receiving rain from a storm currently sweeping across the region. South-central Europe also received rain during the end of November.

The storm also has the potential to bring very heavy snow to the Alps that could close some passes and raise the threat for avalanches.

Rounds of rain, high-elevation snow and gusty winds will linger over much of Europe into the weekend as this slow-moving storm system is forecast to linger over the continent.

The stormy pattern is not expected to wane with the passage of this storm. AccuWeather meteorologists are already tracking the potential for another storm in western Europe early next week.

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