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November 1985: 20 Years On


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  • Location: Irlam
  • Location: Irlam

November 1985 was the coldest November since 1925 with a CET of 4.1C. Here's a summary of that cold, frosty November

The month started with a northerly coming down across most parts and there were snow showers in the north and unusually low minima for early November, -4C in a number of places and -8C in one or two places were recorded and -12.1C was recorded at Santon Downham. A ridge cut off the northerly on the 3rd and by the 4th it had become milder as a low moved through to the north of Scotland but by the 5th, the northerlies were back bringing a cold Bonfire night with snow showers as far south as south Wales.

The milder weather returned to all parts on the 7th as a SWly became established. This lasted until the 9th but as the low tracked into, Norway, the northerlies returned bringing sleet and snow showers to a number of places and severe frosts. High pressure in the Atlantic, slowly moved across the UK over the next couple of days, followed by a frontal system bringing higher temperatures and some rain.

High pressure was intensifying over Scandinavia and this caused the frontal system to become slow moving over the UK and on the 18th, it began to move westwards as a cold easterly became established. Snow showers and maxima near freezing were reported in the south. In London, it snowed for several hours on the 18th.

A slight shift in the high shifted the wind to a ENEly resulting in slightly higher temperatures and the wintry precipitation turning into light rain and drizzle. The high itself began to shift westwards and the wind began to develop more of a northerly component. By the 25th, the high was near Greenland and a frontal system came down in the northerly bringing with it very cold arctic air and snow showers.

A complication developed as a low over Denmark began to drift westwards, so by the 27th, it was over NE parts. This brought snow showers to many parts, 15cm of snow was recorded at Lerwick. Over the snow cover severe frosts ensued with minima of -18.5C recorded at Aviemore and -12C at Shawbury on the morning of the 29th. It was a very cold and wintry end to the month in Scotland, -20.9C was recorded at Kinbrace but in the south a warm front was moving up from the south west bringing much milder weather on the 30th, the start of a mild December.

Some data from that month


Mean Max:8.1

Mean Min:1.2

Lowest Min:-5.7

Air frosts:11

Falling sleet/snow:3 days


Mean Max:6.8

Mean Min:1.4

Lowest Min:-4

Air frosts:9

Lying snow:2 days


Mean Max:7.0

Mean Min:-1.7

Lowest Min:-9.3

Air frosts:21

Falling sleet/snow:8 days

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  • Location: Derbyshire Peak District. 290 mts a.s.l.
  • Weather Preferences: Anything extreme
  • Location: Derbyshire Peak District. 290 mts a.s.l.

And just to add to that, November 1985 at my own location.

Mean max'.........4.4c

Mean min'......... 0.0c

Lowest min'......-3.3c

Air frost..............15

Sleet/snow falling...13

Snow lying at 0900...8


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

November 1985 was also the sunniest November since 1973 and the driest since 1983, the month as a whole was cold, sunny and dry.

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  • 4 months later...

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