State-of-the-European-climate: October 2019

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Extreme precipitation in the south of France, northeast of Spain and north of Italy from 21-24 October

Between 21 and 24 October heavy rain and thunderstorms caused flooding and landslides in the south of France, the northeast of Spain and northern Italy (Figure 1). People had to be evacuated due to the floodings and rail and road traffic were severely disrupted. Three people died in France, two in Spain and two in Italy. The heavy precipitation was caused by a depression over the Mediterranean (Figure 2). The frontal system moved westward from Italy towards Spain between the 22nd and 24th of October. On the east side of the depression a south to southeasterly wind brought warm and humid air from the Mediterranean Sea causing excessive rainfall and heavy thunderstorms along the coast.

In Italy, most precipitation fell on the 22nd. The province of Alessandria in Piedmont was among the worst hit areas. Piedmont Regional Agency for Environmental Protection (ARPA) reported that on 22 October as much as 253 mm of rain fell in 12 hours in Casaleggio Boiro.

In France most precipitation fell on the 22nd and 23rd of October. In a large region in the south of France 100-200 mm fell, but locally even more than 200 mm. Normally this is the amount of rainfall for three months. The highest rainfall amounts were reported in the Languedoc and the Roussillon regions, with in the village Puechabon 271.5 mm (Meteo France).

The Spanish Meteorological Service of Catalonia (Meteocat) recorded at several locations in the northeast of Spain more than 200 mm in 24 hours on the 23rd of October, with in Prades, Baix Camp, 287.4 mm of rain.

Figure 1: Maximum 1-day precipitation amount in October 2019 (left) and anomaly w.r.t. 1981-2010 (right)

Figure 2: Weather Analysis Map of 22 October (left) 00 UTC and (right) 12 UTC (source: KNMI).

Specific climate indicators for October 2019

Figure 3: R20mm: Very heavy precipitation days in October 2019 (left) and anomaly w.r.t. 1981-2010 (right)

The excessive rainfall in the Mediterranean countries is confirmed if we count the heavy precipitation days. In Figure 3 it is shown that in northern Spain, southern France and northern Italy about 4 days with very heavy precipitation occurred. Very heavy precipitation is defined when more than 20 mm/day is measured by the rain gauges. If we compare this to the 30-years reference period in Figure 3, right panel, it becomes clear that this is rather exceptional.

Figure 4:FD: Number of frost days in October 2019 (left) and anomaly w.r.t. 1981-2010 (right)

In Figure 4 a large number of frost days is reported in northern Europe. A frost day is defined as a day on which the minimum temperature at screenheight (2 meter) drops below zero degrees Celsius. This occurred on more than 20 days, which is exceptional with respect to the 30-years average.

The weather in October 2019

Temperature deviations and extremes

October was warmer than average in most of Europe. In eastern Europe temperatures, particularly maximum temperatures, were exceptionally above average. Only in Scandinavia and the British Isles temperatures were below average.

Figure 3: October 2019 minimum (left), average (middle), and maximum (right) temperature differences from reference period 1981-2010 (E-OBS)

Figure 4: Areas with exceptional low and high monthly averaged minimum temperature (left), mean temperature (middle), and maximum temperature (right) in October 2019 (Based on E-OBS). The qualifications "exceptionally above (below) average", much above (below) average, slightly above (below) average and normal relate to the percentile ranges >90 (<10), 75-90 (10-25), 60-75 (25-40) and 40-60 as calculated from the climatological period 1981-2010.

Figure 5: Lowest minimum temperature (TNn, left), and highest maximum temperature (TXx, right) in October 2019. (Based on E-OBS)

Figure 6: Areas with exceptionally low temperatures of the coldest night (TNn, left), and exceptionally warm temperatures of the warmest day (TXx, right) in October 2019 (Based on E-OBS)

Evolution of the European land-surface temperature

Figure 7 (left panel) shows the European-averaged temperature from 1950 onward, where blue bars show temperatures which are below the 1981-2010 average and red bars above this mean value. The green bar is the provisional 2019 estimate, based on data until the end of October and climatological means for the remaining months. The grey bars in the panel indicate the estimated uncertainties which take into account the errors introduced by spatial interpolation over areas without observation stations, inhomogeneities in the temperature data that result from station relocations / changes in measurement instruments etc., and biases due to urbanisation, as documented in Van der Schrier et al. (2013) and Chrysanthou et al. (2014). The uncertainties tell us that although we are not 100% certain about the ranking of individual years, the overall positive trend since the 1980s is very pronounced.

The right panel of Figure 7 shows the daily temperature, averaged over Europe, for the past 12 months.

Figure 7: European land surface temperature: annual anomalies with the current year in green. The grey bands show the uncertainty in the averaged temperature (left). Daily anomalies with respect to the seasonal cycle until the end of October 2019 (right). (Based on E-OBS)


Total precipitation in October varied strongly between different regions. Above average precipitation occurred over most of western and northern Europe, whereas below average precipitation occurred over most of southern and eastern Europe.

Figure 8: Monthly average precipitation sums over Europe and highest 1-day (RX1day) and 5-day sums (RX5day) in October 2019 (Based on E-OBS).

Figure 9: Areas with exceptional amounts of precipitation per month (RR sum, left), maximum in 1 day (RX1day, middle) and maximum over 5 days (RX5day, right) in October 2019 (Based on E-OBS)

Figure 10: Precipitation fraction in October with respect to 1981-2010 per year. Top row: Northwest Europe, Central Europe, Northeast Europe. Bottom row: Southwest Europe, Region definitions, Southeast Europe. (Based on E-OBS)

Radiation and Cloudiness

The radiation and cloud anomaly patterns are opposite, as usual, and reflect the above described temperature and precipitation anomaly patterns, with above average radiation over the warmer eastern part of Europe and above average cloudiness over the wetter western and northern parts of Europe.

Figure 11: Monthly map of surface incoming shortwave radiation (left) and its anomaly (right, with respect to 1983-2005) (METEOSAT Seviri/Mviri product, source CM SAF)

Figure 12: Monthly maps of cloud cover (left) and its absolute anomaly (right, with respect to 1982-2009) (AVHRR, source CM SAF)

About the Copernicus State of the European Climate

Monthly and yearly State of the European Climate bulletins are prepared for audience of mainly non-meteorologists/climatologists interested in impact of weather and climate. In these bulletins, the main features of the most recent calendar month is shown, with a focus on extremes and significant deviations from climatology. The information is provided within their historical context, and includes references to addional information. The bulletin is based on Copernicus products, but also contains information from other sources as appropriate.


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