Jump to content
IGNORED

The Shetland Blizzard Jan 1968.


Rollo

Recommended Posts

Posted
  • Location: Ponteland
  • Location: Ponteland

This is for our new member Viking 141 and any other interested parties.

During the sixties a gentleman called S.G.Irvine used to post letters to "Weather" re snow events and this is one that I have just found.

On page 46 0f the January edition of "Weather"we read "snow had already whitened the tops of the mountains for a brief period on the 5th of September", leading to local predictions of a severe winter ahead". This prediction was accurate for Shetland at least,for on the 3rd of January we had our severest blizzard probably in living memory; this cold spell also froze the sea at Gunglesund,Fair Isle, so that people could could walk on it, also for the first time in living memory, and on 8th January I made my first observation of Arctic sea smoke.

Radio Kalundborg broadcast on 2nd January that the temperature was -6c in Thorshavn, Faroes and -13c in Reykjavik, Iceland,so I had in mind that if the wind blew from anywhere near this direction we could well get snow and frost.

On the morning of the 3rd a depression passed eastwards to the south of Shetland causing a backing of the wind. Snow started to fall at 6 am with a light east-south-east wind. Flakes were large, for the temperature was slightly above freezing point. The wind continued to back, increasing to strong when it reached east-north-east at 9-30 a m. At this stage the first drifting commenced; the temperature meantime had fallen so that frost flowers now appeared in the window panes. The wind steadily increased to gale force and backed to North East and later north. A furious blizzard raged throughout with severe drifting reducing visibility at times to about 12 yards. Continuous snow which had started as large flakes had now changed to powder which,together with the drifting snow, even sifted through the edges of closed doors. It changed to showers at 2 pm, but much drifting continued.

Almost all transport on land,sea and in the air was brought to an abrupt halt, and the electricity supply was cut in in many parts of Shetland. One man died when caught out in the blizzard. What seemed to me most outstanding about the blizzard was the extraordinary thickness of the falling and drifting snow. I talked afterwards about it to several men in the prime of life and they all said they had felt difficulty in breathing in it.

The rock pool at Gunglesund, Fair Isle, scene of many a balmy afternoon's swimming, was frozen over at New Year to a thickness to support people walking on it. Gunglesund is salt water and no one in the island ever remembers it happening before. it was more sheltered than other inlets of the sea around Shetland, and this is why it alone froze to this extent. Nevertheless it has to be exceptionally cold before the sea freezes anywhere in Shetland for in winter the wind is more often strong than not and as a consequence the sea is normally in turmoil.

At 10a m on 8th January the wind was almost calm in Shetland and the sky was nearly cloudless. The mimimum air temperature forecast for Shetland by the Meteorological Office for the night of 7th-8th was -4c, and the average sea-surface temperature in shetland at this time of year is 8c. My family and I observed Arctic sea-smoke rising several feet in the air from a patch of the sea near the shore which was more disturbed than the rest. The smoke was not in a continuous sheet; it can best be described in miniature by the steam rising from many cups of hot tea placed near each other. The smoke lasted about half an hour; the wind then freshened a little from the south-east and it disappeared.

As records show that northerly wind frequency has increased over the Norwegian Sea and Shetland, the above events may be of interest to readers. From listening to Norwegian weather broadcasts I note that the temperature in Jan Mayen was more often at -20c and below last winter than in any winter in at least the last 12 years. It is probably the combination of this low Arctic temperature and the quite frequent,very strong, uninterrupted winds from this direction which has made frosts more severe than usual in Shetland.

Edited by Rollo
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 5
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Posted
  • Location: Dublin, ireland
  • Weather Preferences: Snow , thunderstorms and wind
  • Location: Dublin, ireland

Hi Rollo,

Thanks for a very interesting post.

It certainly whets the appetite.

Su-Rui-Ke...... The year is in the heading of the thread, 1968

Regards,

John

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest Viking141

Hi Rollo

Thanks for that - very interesting! I will have to speak to my in-laws and other family members and see what they remember of that winter. Might also be worth a trip to the local library to check the reports in the Shetland News & Shetland Times newspapers. I'll post what I find out.

:D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...
  • 6 months later...
Posted
  • Location: Leeds/Bradford border, 185 metres above sea level, around 600 feet
  • Location: Leeds/Bradford border, 185 metres above sea level, around 600 feet

Here is the chart from that event...

Rrea00119680107.gif

While i am not sure about Scotland, the only time i know of sea ice forming around England was the winter of 1963.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...