By Kari Williamson
In 2011 wind speeds across Europe varied considerably from region to region. In the UK, Scandinavia, and around the Baltic Sea wind speeds trended roughly 5-10% above normal. Meanwhile southern Europe experienced wind speeds up to 10% below normal except for a few isolated areas along the Mediterranean coast.
2011 began with substantially below normal wind speeds across a majority of Europe due to a high-pressure ridge known as a Greenland High. This structure was hovering over the western Atlantic Ocean late in 2010 and began to shift eastward toward the northern Atlantic in early 2011. This created a blocking effect above the UK, causing severe deformation to the storm track as well as warm temperatures and substantially low wind speeds in the UK, France, and Germany in the second half of the first quarter.
In the second quarter, this ridge started to break down resulting in numerous storms and anomalously high wind speeds over a broad swath of northern Europe. During this period, below normal wind speeds were primarily constrained to Spain, France, northern Italy, and areas of Ukraine and Russia.
The third quarter featured milder anomalies, though an area from the UK to the Baltic Sea remained above normal.
Finally, the fourth quarter enhanced this pattern, with substantial positive deviations across northern Europe, and negative deviations highlighted in Spain and a broad land area between the Adriatic and Black Seas.
The wind performance maps were created by comparing hourly data for 2011 with hourly wind conditions averaged over the period 1981-2010 from 3TIER’s European meteorological dataset.