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Winter 2011/2012 - Review, Analysis And Key Events

A Winter's Tale


[center]WINTER 2011/2012[/center]



[b]DECEMBER 2011: [/b]

[b]SCOTLAND MEAN: 3.1C, CET: 6.0C, MAX TEMP: 15.5C, MIN TEMP: -9.4C[/b]

[b] Scotland Diary of Highlights[/b]

[b]A persistent Atlantic airstream brought changeable, sometimes very stormy, conditions. Temperatures were near or a little below normal for much of the month but it became milder in the last 10 days. There was rainfall on most days and hill snow at times. [/b]
[b]The mean temperature was equal to the 1971-2000 average - almost 5 °C warmer than December 2010. Rainfall totals were above average in most of the west and north, over 75% above in places, but close to normal in the east. In northern and western Scotland it was one of the wettest Decembers in the last 100 years (and the number of days with rain was among the highest for December in 50 years). It was a relatively dull month, especially in the Western Isles and towards the south-west.[/b]
1st to 10th: Heavy showers early on 1st, these easing during the afternoon, although it was windy with a gust of 68 mph at Prestwick (Ayrshire). A bright start in the east on 2nd with showers for the north-west before rain spread from the west during the afternoon. A showery windy day on 3rd with a gust of 78 mph reported at Loch Glascarnoch (Highland). A much colder day on 4th with frequent showers, these becoming wintry in the north. The 5th saw snow showers in a strong north-westerly wind for much of the north and west with 15 cm of snow recorded at 0900 on 5th and 6th at Eskdalemuir (Dumfries & Galloway). The showers eased on 6th and it remained cold then rain, preceded by some sleet and snow, spread from the west during the afternoon. A showery day on 7th with some snow for higher ground in the north. The strong north-west wind kept it feeling cold with a 64 mph gust at Stornoway (Western Isles). A very stormy day on 8th with much of the country experiencing gale-force winds and heavy rain. A gust of 105 mph was recorded at Tulloch Bridge (Highland) and over 25 mm of rain fell across much of Highland with 57 mm at Loch Glascarnoch. A better day on 9th with scattered wintry showers mainly in the north and west. A band of snow spread from the west into central areas in the early hours of 10th followed by a cloudy day with scattered showers.

11th to 20th: The 11th saw showers for northern and western areas with the east having the best of any bright spells. The 12th saw scattered showers for the north and west, with snow on high ground, before wind and rain spread from the west during the evening. A wet and stormy day on 13th with snow for higher ground; Tyndrum (Stirling) recorded 57 mm of rain and a gust of 71 mph was recorded at Prestwick. There were showers for western and northern areas on 14th and 15th, wintry on high ground, with any bright weather in the east. After an early frost on 16th, with -8.7 °C recorded at Aviemore (Highland), it was bright but cold with only scattered wintry showers in the far north-west and south-east. Similar on 17th and 18th, with frosty nights and scattered coastal wintry showers; -9.4 °C was recorded at Loch Glascarnoch early on 18th. On 19th a band of rain, initially falling as freezing rain in places, moved eastwards during the morning with clearer weather following. Some patchy rain for much of 20th before a band of rain spread from the south-west during the late afternoon.

21st to 31st: A wet start on 21st although the rain cleared during early afternoon to leave a cloudy and mild day which continued on 22nd, with rain spreading to north-western areas later. A band of rain moved south-eastwards during the morning of 23rd clearing to scattered showers. It was very windy and wet for the north-west on 24th with a gust of 54 mph at Loch Glascarnoch and 51 mm of rain at Achnagart (Highland). Achnagart also recorded 71 mm on 25th, when again most of the heavy rain fell in the north-west. However, it was very mild, with 15.1 °C recorded at Dyce (Aberdeen). On 26th there were strong winds for northern areas with a 101 mph gust recorded at Sella Ness (Shetland) and heavy rain again in the north-west with 52 mm at Kinlochewe (Highland). Still very mild, especially towards the east, with 15.5 °C recorded at Fyvie Castle (Aberdeenshire). A quieter day on 27th with patchy rain spreading from the south during the afternoon. Stormy on 28th with gale-force westerly winds and frequent squally showers. Gusts of 79 mph were recorded on Tiree and South Uist. Winds eased on 29th but there were still frequent showers. Rain spread eastwards on 30th turning heavier and persistent for a time with some snow, especially over high ground. New Year’s Eve was rather cloudy and outbreaks of rain spread south-eastwards during the evening, with clearer skies and showers following by midnight
[b]My Analysis:[/b]

December 2011 was the most interesting month of the Winter 2011/2012 and a very good month for snow in W Scotland and just slightly below the Scottish December Average. The month was mainly dominated by the Atlantic, however it's tilt allowed for Polar Maritime incursions during the first 20 days. These brought short but regular cold feeling days with the risk of ice and snow. It was also a very wet and windy month too with the fields nearby always being flooded and it was windy regulary. A snowy month too with two decent cold spells with good snow events brought some notable lying snow to the Glasgow Area which makes December 2011 a great month and the best of the Winter and perhaps it's the month that has saved/made the winter's reputation of carrying on decent form and not reverting back to snowless winters. This month certainly contradicted that.

The month began on a wet and windy note until we entered a cold spell around the 3rd/4th. This would bring persistent, heavy snow showers to much of the West of Scotland and dumped around 5-15cm in this area. The snow remained on the ground until around the 6th. A very decent cold spell. Following this was a milder but wetter and windier period including a powerful storm on the 8th that earned a Red Warning. Following this was shorter periods of cold air streams and some snow but generally fluctuating between wet and windy to cold, settled with risk of ice. On the 16th was a heavy snowfall for Glasgow that dumped around 3-8cm. The snow would remain on the ground until the 19th following a cold, crisp and sunny cold spell - very seasonal and festive. Beyond this was a very mild period with heavy rain and strong winds and little sunshine. Almost a record breaking warm Christmas with 15C in Aberdeen. However it was still interesting weather at a nice time of year and the first 20 days were very good. All in all, for weather I'd give this month somewhere between 7 to 8/10.

A very good month for snow, cold and interesting weather in between.

[b]JANUARY 2012:[/b]

[b]SCOTLAND MEAN: 3.2C, CET: 5.4C, MAX TEMP: 14.0C, MIN TEMP: -10.5C[/b]

[b] Scotland diary of highlights[/b]

The first week was mild, but very stormy at times, with a major storm on 3rd affecting southern Scotland in particular. It remained wet in the north and west, but gradually turned more settled towards mid-month, with some dry sunny days and night-time frosts, especially in eastern areas. A mainly westerly airstream brought a return to unsettled conditions later in the month, with rain and hill snow, before it turned much colder but dry at the end.
Temperatures overall were 0.8 °C above the 1971-2000 average. Rainfall totals varied widely, from more than 150% of normal in parts of the north to only half the normal for Fife and the eastern Borders. It was sunnier than normal except for south-west Scotland and the Western Isles, provisionally the second sunniest January in the series (since 1929) for eastern Scotland.

1st to 10th The 1st and 2nd saw strong westerly winds, with frequent showers mainly in the north-west. The 3rd was a very stormy day, with gale-force winds and squally showers for most of the country. There was a gust of 102 mph recorded at Edinburgh Blackford Hill. The 4th started dry in the east, but rain spread from the west during the afternoon with some strong to gale-force winds again. 58 mm of rain was recorded at Cluanie Inn (Highland), and Dundrennan (Dumfries & Galloway) had a gust of 76 mph. The windy theme continued on 5th with gale-force north-westerlies, and a scattering of showers mainly in the north-west. A gust of 65 mph was recorded at Peterhead (Aberdeenshire). The 6th started bright, but patchy light rain spread from the west during the morning. It remained windy with scattered showers in northern areas on 7th, then it was dull and damp on 8th with rain and drizzle for most areas. The 9th was a brighter day with sunny spells and only scattered light showers. The north-west saw some heavy rain on 10th, with 28 mm falling at both Cassley and Resallach (Highland), whilst other areas were generally dry but cloudy.

11th to 20th A generally dry, mild but cloudy start on 11th although rain and strengthening winds spread into north-western areas by late afternoon. A windy start on 12th with Loch Glascarnoch (Highland) recording a gust of 68 mph, but winds eased during the morning to give a cooler, brighter day. After a chilly start, 13th was dry with sunny spells. The settled theme continued on 14th and 15th; after frosty mornings (down to -6 °C in parts of the Highlands and Borders), these were dry days with sunny spells. The 16th was dry with sunny spells too, after a cold and in places foggy start, with -10.5 °C recorded at Aboyne (Aberdeenshire). Another cold start on 17th, temperatures falling close to -10 °C in parts of the Highlands; scattered showers were mainly confined to the north-west. A band of rain cleared overnight to leave showers on 18th, mainly for western and northern areas, becoming wintry on higher ground. On 19th a band of showers, with snow for higher ground, spread from the west, giving a snow depth of 8 cm at Aviemore (Highland). The 20th started bright, but a band of rain spread from the south-west during the day accompanied by strengthening winds.

21st to 31st The 21st was a day of frequent showers and strong winds, with a gust of 70 mph at Loch Glascarnoch. The 22nd saw the showers confined to northern and western areas, and the winds eased slightly later in the day. There was more sunshine on 23rd, especially in eastern areas, whereas the showers continued in the north and west. The 24th started with a band of rain (snow for higher ground) spreading from the west, although this cleared during the morning to leave a dull and cloudy day. The 25th was milder and drier than of late, with some strong winds for western areas. However, a band of rain spread from the west during the evening which cleared overnight giving a colder day on 26th with a band of rain and snow spreading eastwards for central areas during the afternoon. A frosty start on 27th, with Loch Glascarnoch recording -6.9 °C, then a bright but chilly day with only a few scattered snow showers mainly for the north, whilst 28th remained chilly but was generally dry until rain edged in to the Western Isles during the afternoon. The 29th was a bright day after a chilly start for northern areas, with scattered showers, but the south-west saw rain for much of the day. It felt cold in a south-easterly breeze; this continued into 30th and 31st which were generally dry but cloudy days.
[b]My Analysis:[/b]

Overall, despite the lack of cold and snow in the first half of the month and the lack of a major snowfall in January, the month was just about satisfactory. Certainly nowhere near snowless, we had days of snowfall and some tempory coverings and the second half was pretty cold with lots of frost and sunshine. Certainly, I've seen worse months than this. The first half of the month was very mild and very stormy, compared to the cold and sunnier second half. However the warm first half influenced the Mean temperature more and we got a milder than average month.

The first few days of the New Year was wet, windy and mild with little sunshine. However on the 4th, the Met Office gave out a late Red Warning for Scotland as its worst storm since 1998 hit which brought extreme damage and extreme gusts of wind. Following the storm was unsettled weather with some cooler periods with sleety snow at times. Around mid month, we entered a far more settled period as High Pressure sat over the UK and brought cold conditions with sunshine and frost and interesting sunsets, it certainly did feel very seasonal. The following period saw a brief return to the jet stream and then we got some snowfalls. The last few days saw us enter another cold spell with lots of sunshine and nighttime frosts . A nice end to the month. Overall, for snow January wasn't awful but it failed to produce interesting snow events and there weren't many snow events but there was at least 3 snow events observed in Glasgow (15 winter months since 2000 have had worse records than that). The storm was incredible, and the wonderful crisp winter sunshine of the second half was good. Overall I'll give the month somehwhere between 5 to 7 out of 10. Average for snow, good for cold and interesting with mild, wet and windy periods.

[b]FEBRUARY 2012:[/b]

[b]SCOTLAND MEAN: 4.4C, CET: 3.8C, MAX TEMP: 18.7C, MIN TEMP: -15.6C[/b]

[b] Scotland diary of highlights[/b]

After a cold, fine start, for most of the month there was a westerly component to the airstreams over Scotland. These brought generally mild weather, especially in the last 10 days. Cloud and rain were most frequent in the west, whilst sheltered eastern areas were mainly dry and recorded some unusually high temperatures at times.
The mean temperature was 1.8 °C above the 1971-2000 average, making it the mildest February since 1998 and one of the mildest on record. It was drier than average across most of central and eastern Scotland, especially from the Lothians to Aberdeenshire where only about a third of the normal amount fell. Rainfall totals were close to average in the west and the Northern Isles. It was a relatively dull month in the west, especially along the west coast and in the Western Isles, but sunshine totals were nearer normal along the east coast.

1st to 10th: A frosty start on 1st and 2nd, with temperatures dropping to -7 °C on both nights in parts of the Highlands, but dry and sunny days followed. The 3rd again saw a frosty start after temperatures fell well below zero, with -10.9 °C at Braemar (Aberdeenshire) and –11.8 °C at Cromdale (Highland). It was a dry and sunny day, although rain reached the far west during the evening. This spread eastwards overnight resulting in a wet day on 4th with rain for most areas but snow for the higher ground. This cleared overnight to leave a slightly milder day on 5th with scattered showers in the north. The 6th and 7th were dry but cold days after a frosty start with temperatures down to -10 °C in parts of the central Highlands. There were long sunny spells although fog was slow to clear from parts of the Central Belt. The 8th was milder but wet after a frosty start for the north-west and dry and cold in southern and eastern areas. The 9th saw an area of freezing rain in Dumfries and Galloway in the morning but a dry day elsewhere and on 10th a band of patchy, light rain spread from the west.

11th to 19th: The period 11th to 16th was more settled and generally dry, with the best of any sunshine in the east where temperature maxima reached 11 or 12 °C from 13th. On 16th rain in the north-west overnight gave way to showers, and it was dry and bright elsewhere. The 17th started dry and bright but rain, heavy at times, spread from the west during the day. This was persistent in the north-west, with 52 mm recorded at Cluanie Inn (Highland) and 71 mm at Achnagart (Highland) in the 24 hours ending 0900 on 18th. Turning much colder from the north-west as the rain spread southwards during the early hours of 18th, followed by showers of hail, sleet and snow. A frosty start on 19th with temperatures down to -10 °C in some Highland glens, and wintry showers at first in the north-west, but dry and sunny elsewhere.

20th to 29th: Rain spread to all areas from the west on 20th and it turned milder in the south-westerly flow, the temperature reaching 13 °C along the Moray Firth. The 21st continued mild, especially in the east, but it was cloudy with rain at times, persistent in the higher parts of the west where over 40 mm was recorded (60 mm at Achnagart). This unsettled theme continued into 22nd and 23rd with strengthening winds but still very mild towards the east with 15.7 °C at Aboyne (Aberdeenshire) on 22nd and 15.9 °C at Dyce (Aberdeen) on 23rd. Fresh or strong north-west winds gave a bright day with scattered showers on 24th and again at first on 25th but cloud and rain spread south-eastwards through the day. Dry and cloudy with showers in the north-west on 26th, rain arriving from the west later which spread to all parts overnight. This cleared south-eastwards during the afternoon of 27th. The 28th and 29th were dry and cloudy but very mild, especially in the east, with the temperature reaching 17.2 °C at Dyce on 28th


Overall February for the UK was a pretty interesting month. Here in Glasgow, it was notably disapointing month for snow with only two days where I observed snowfall and Glasgow Airport didn't even record a single snowfall. However, despite the lack of snow and the mild average temperature, the first half was pretty cold here with our coldest temperatures of the winter. It was also quite sunny under an easterly flow. However in Europe it was notably colder making it a 4th Consecutive Winter with a Big Freeze and this affected England too which saw colder temperatures than in Scotland. And England (and Wales) enjoyed the two of the most widespread and notable snow events of the winter too with depths up to 15cm and lying on the ground for a few days. However, despite the UK's most notable cold spell of the winter (December 2011 was best for Scotland, however for the UK, this cold spell could perhaps have carried on the theme of severe cold spells of the previous winters), the second half was much milder with only one snowfall event in Scotland. This resulted in some horrible cloudy, mild days with drizzle aswell as some lovely spring-like days. As a result some very mild temperatures were recorded. Despite the lack of snow here in Glasgow (but not exactly snowless) and missing out on the best of the cold spell, it was overall for the UK an equally interesting month as December and January with a notable cold spell that could perhaps make the category "Big Freeze", the most notable snowfalls for the UK happened and even the milder end was interesting.

From the 26th January till around 6th February, Glasgow was enjoying a cold spell which saw temperatures drop as low as -7C on the 2nd under a cold easterly flow. There were some days with cloud cover and others with fine winter sunshine. However, the cold spell ended earlier here and we got some milder and wetter conditions whereas the SE of England had a very cold first half with a major snowfall on the 4th and another on the 9th. But most notably was the cold temperatures with -18.7C being recorded at Chesham and and a maximum of -5.4C at Coningsby. This didn't last long as milder weather arrived (although here in Glasgow there was a brief cold spell) which resulted in a mix of dull days and some good spring-like days. Towards the end of the month, the February maximum temperature record was under threat as the temperature reached 18.7C near Birmingham and maxed around 17C near Aberdeen. Overall, an interesting month but like January it had long very mild periods that cancelled out the colder periods and it lacked a notable snowfall (it was the poorest month of the winter for snow). However even the milder weather was interesting and most notable was the cold spell. Despite Glasgow lacking out on the snow, intensity and length of the cold spell as in Europe - the cold spell here was quite notable and further south east it was included two notable snow events and some very cold temperatures and even made the BBC use the phrase Big Freeze. So perhaps the Winter 2011/2012 did continue the run of severe cold spells in the UK afterall - anyway the good run had continued anyway thanks to a good December and interesting periods of weather in January and February (good cold weather) that cancel out any of the long, very mild and less interesting periods that lacked snow. 5 or 6/10.


TBC (Facts of winter, my overall analyse, how good it was, it's best moments, what caused it, how it compares....)

[b]WINTER 2011/2012:[/b]

[b]SCOTLAND MEAN: 3.53 (18th Mildest, 5th Mildest in My Lifetime)[/b]
[b]UK MEAN: 4.54 (16th Mildest)[/b]
[b]UK SUNSHINE: 38.7hrs (DEC), 60.3hrs (JAN), 65.3hrs (FEB), WINTER = 164.3hrs - sunnier than average[/b]
[b]SCOTLAND SUNSHINE: 23.4hrs (DEC), 46.7hrs (JAN), 53.6hrs (FEB), WINTER = 123.6hrs[/b]
[b]UK RAINFALL: 168.1mm (DEC), 108.3mm (JAN), 54.5mm (FEB), WINTER = 331.0mm[/b]
[b]SCOTLAND RAINFALL: 265.4mm (DEC), 177.4mm (JAN), 99.2mm (FEB), WINTER = 541.9mm[/b]
[b]UK AIR FROST: 7.4 days (DEC), 8.6 days (JAN), 11.1 days (FEB), WINTER = 27.1 days[/b]
[b]SCOTLAND AIR FROST: 11.9 days (DEC), 10.2 days (JAN), 9 days (FEB), WINTER = 31.2 days[/b]
[b]OVERALL RATING: 6/10[/b]


DECEMBER 2011: SNOWFALLS - 6 (4th, 5th, 6th, 9th, 16th, 17th), COLDEST TEMP (2/-5C)
JANUARY 2012: SNOWFALLS - 3 (20th, 24th, 26th), COLDEST TEMP (2/-5C)
OVERALL: 10, 2/-7C

The 5th Snowiest Winter since 1999/2000

Overall Review:

A decent winter that continues the good run of the past few; no real big freeze despite a relatively prolonged cold spell in February. Nonetheless, we didn't revert back to some of the poor winters prior to 2009. The good points are that December saw two very decent cold spells and snow events with the area covered in lying snow for Days - a generally interesting month. The storm of January 2012 will be remembered for years. January and February both saw some snow at least but most notably there were good spells of cold, crisp weather and even the mild end was interesting. Disapointments is of course no white christmas and the incredible prolonged very mild spell until mid January. Other disapointments are that there wasn't that much in the way of snowfall and barely no significant even in January and February. Another disapointment is the great cold spell in Europe never reached us to make a 4th consecutive big freeze winter. But overall, an interesting and varied winter with some good moments aswell as bad but ultimately we did exceed the threshold for snow and cold in a winter which makes a decent one.


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