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LONDON (Reuters) - Scandinavia will likely be colder than average this winter but Britain and northern parts of mainland Europe should enjoy slightly milder than normal weather until an unusually chilly February, private U.S.-based weather forecaster WSI Corp. said on Monday.
In its long-term European winter weather forecast presented on October 21, WSI said there was about a 75 percent probability of a colder-than-average start to 2010 because of a large build up of snow cover in the northern hemisphere.
The updated outlook for December to February points to slightly milder than normal weather outside Scandinavia until the end of January but abnormally cold weather throughout northern Europe, and correspondingly strong energy demand for heating, in February.
"The combination of the current El Nino event, abundant Eurasian snow cover, and a favourable pattern of ocean temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean suggest that this winter will be a cold one across much of northern and central Europe, especially after the New Year," WSI seasonal forecaster Todd Crawford said.
"For the UK, we expect total winter energy usage to be somewhere between that of the last two winters."
WSI also expects below normal temperatures during the three-month period in eastern and south-central parts of the United States, with above-normal temperatures across western and north-central areas.
WSI predicts regional temperatures in Europe to vary from the long-term averages for winters from 1971-2000 as follows:
DECEMBER -
Scandinavia - Colder than normal
Britain - Slightly milder
Northern Mainland - Slightly milder
Southern Mainland - Milder
JANUARY -
Scandinavia - Colder than normal
Britain - Slightly milder
Northern Mainland - Slightly milder
Southern Mainland - Milder
FEBRUARY -
Scandinavia - Much colder than normal
Britain - Much colder
Northern Mainland - Colder
Southern Mainland - Slightly milder
(Reporting by Daniel Fineren)

Reuters