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The very strange winter of 1874-75


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Posted
  • Location: Irlam
  • Location: Irlam

Here's the first of a series of odd seasons we shall be looking at over the next few days.

Today we are going to look at one of the strangest winters ever recorded, winter 1874-75. The CET average for that winter is 2.8, however its when you break it down to the individual months is when you see how odd this winter was.

December 1874: -0.2 (-4.5)

January 1875: 6.4 (+3.0)

February 1875: 2.3 (-1.1)

December 1874 is the 6th coldest December ever recorded. (It was 4th coldest at the time)

January 1875 is the 12th mildest January ever recorded (It was the 5th mildest at the time)

The second half of December 1874 was -2.2C, one of the coldest second halves to a December ever recorded

The first half of January 1875 was 6.5C Thats a 8.7C between the two halves.

The rise in CET between December and January is the largest ever recorded.

The second half of February 1875 was 1.7C

All in all, a very peculiar winter with exceptionally cold (25th-31st December 1874: -2.9C) and exceptionally mild spells. (12th-19th January 1875: 8.8C)

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Posted
  • Location: Rossland BC Canada
  • Location: Rossland BC Canada

Interesting. These years were quite remarkable on the other side of the Atlantic as well. As you know, the North American climate was markedly cooler in general in the 19th century, but relative to those normals (and based on Toronto's long period of record that began in 1840), January 1874 was very mild. April on the other hand was much colder than average and basically never saw any of the typical spring flirtations with summer temperatures. Even so, the summer itself turned quite warm by the standards of the period. Then the autumn was quite cold again. The winter was quite similar to what you've reported, a rather cold December, a brief warming in early January, then bitter cold from late January through March, and no real warming trend until June. The rest of 1875 was generally colder than normal as well, but the last day of the year was very mild at 15 C and this trend lasted through January, 1876. This topsy-turvy weather continued for quite some time, but generally warmed up in the rest of the 1870s and through 1882.

Another long cold spell began in the winter of 1882-83, which dominated most of the years from 1883 to 1888. Although Krakatoa has been blamed for it, something else obviously started it, because the volcanic eruption was in August of 1883 while it was already record cold by March of that year.

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Posted
  • Location: Norfolk
  • Location: Norfolk
Another long cold spell began in the winter of 1882-83, which dominated most of the years from 1883 to 1888. Although Krakatoa has been blamed for it, something else obviously started it, because the volcanic eruption was in August of 1883 while it was already record cold by March of that year.

That interesting Roger. Could it just be that 1883 was a statistical quirk that happened to immediately precede the sulphate induced Krakatoa spell?

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Posted
  • Location: Buckingham
  • Location: Buckingham

I do find this historical data incredibly fascinating. It surprises me that there were such wild fluctuations in temperature between one winter month and the next. Is there any chance that some of the records might have questionable accuracy? Just a thought.

Moose

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  • 1 year later...
Posted
  • Location: Irlam
  • Location: Irlam

CET trackometer for December (1st value) and January 2nd value)

1. 0.4 1.9

2. -1.0 4.1

3. -0.7 4.9

4. 0.6 5.4

5. 1.7 5.6

6. 2.3 5.8

7. 2.4 5.6

8. 2.8 5.5

9. 2.5 5.4

10. 2.4 5.5

11. 2.5 5.7

12. 2.4 5.9

13. 2.3 6.1

14. 2.2 6.4

15. 1.9 6.5

16. 1.8 6.6

17. 1.6 6.7

18. 1.4 6.9

19. 1.4 7.0

20. 1.3 7.0

21. 1.1 6.8

22. 0.8 6.7

23. 0.6 6.7

24. 0.6 6.7

25. 0.5 6.6

26. 0.5 6.6

27. 0.4 6.6

28. 0.3 6.7

29. 0.1 6.7

30. 0.0 6.5

31.-0.2 6.4

Some reports from December 1874

15th and 16th: Heavy falls of snow over the SE and west of England, about 11 inches generally and in many places remained unmelted until the end of the year.

23rd: Rime in thorn-like spikes, half an inch long on the trees and ice spiculae in the air.

28th: Remarkable fall of snow on this and next day, depth average 17 inches (Meshaw)

Snow deeper than has been known for many years, about 18 inches deep on the level (Brampford Speke)

Minima reported on the 30th

Berkempstead: 13F

Oxford: 13F

Coventry: 16F

Hexham: -2F

Minima reported on the 31st

Dorking: 18F

Basingstoke: 9F

Ross-on-Wye: 5F

10F at Worksop

14.6F at Halifax

Tunbridge: a very severe month, mean temp. only 32.7F (-4.0F)

Forest Hill: Number of frosty nights (26) is more than I have ever recorded in any month.

Sheering Rectory: Mean temp: 31.9F (-6.6)

Sprowston: The rime continued on the trees from the 28th to 1st. Dead blackbirds were picked up in all directions.

Coston: Snow on ground from 11th to 31st inclusive. Many blackbirds and robins killed by cold.

Elterwater: There have been many falls of snow. which has been nearly covered all month.

Kirkstone Pass: In many places the snow was 8 feet deep in the roads, the snow was level with the top of the house at the south end, at least 30 inches has fallen.

Dingestow: More frost and skating than remembered.

Melrose: Heavy falls of snow and severe frosts, the total fall of snow amounted to a depth of 34 inches.

January

Muswell Hill: 25 days in which rain was registered

Forest Hill: Wet, southerly winds and very mild. Dec: 33.5F; Jan: 43.6F

Bromley: An exceedingly mild month

Addington: Very little frost after 2nd

Cambridge:

Mean Dec max: 37F

Mean Jan max: 47.5F

Mean Dec min: 26.3F

Mean Jan min: 36F

Diss: The sudden change from the severe December to a warm relaxing condition caused a great mortality among old people.

Compton Bassett: Very mild for January, the thermometer having fallen below 32F on only 4 mornings.

Taunton: Very mild and wet.

Coston: Very mild, prevailing winds: W, SW and S. Mean temp: 40.7F, that of December: 29.8F

Buckden: After a storm of snow for nearly 6 weeks duration, terminating with intense frost, a thaw set in on the evening of the 2nd, whence the temp. rose gradually till it attained its max about the middle of the month.

Shap: The land at the end of the month looked fresh and green and the weather more like the latter end of April than January.

Kilrush: Much rain, but snow only on one occasion and that only a slight fall.

Bushmills: The month opened with a thaw and after this no more frosts. The wind was south on 19 days.

Kilsallaghan: The frost which lasted almost without intermission during the whole of December, passed away with the old year. The weather here has continued mild during the whole of the month.

February

Forest Hill: Much snow with NE winds

Cambridge: Mean temp 7F below that of January: winds constant between N and E with frequent snow showers after 16th

Sheering: Winds N or E on 25 days out of 28.

Diss: Snow remained on ground from 10th to month's end.

Coston: A very different month from January: on the whole very cold and wintry.

Buckden: Continued snow and frost

Chester-le Street: Snow prevailed from 19th

Melrose: Snow on 7th and 11th and daily from 17th to 28th; total depth of 10.5 inches

Addington: Temp never above 32F on 9th

Llanfrechta: Snow lying on hills from 16th to months end

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  • 2 years later...
Posted
  • Location: Cleeve, North Somerset
  • Weather Preferences: Continental winters & summers.
  • Location: Cleeve, North Somerset

Fascinating data and facts there Mr Data! Wouldn't be at all surprised if this winter turns out like a slightly watered down version of that (literally with the amount of rain due over the coming days) with January being the spoiler in the winter.

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Posted
  • Location: Western Isle of Wight
  • Weather Preferences: Snow, Storm, anything loud and dramatic.
  • Location: Western Isle of Wight

Very interesting Mr Data. You do have a knack of finding good stuff.

I wonder what caused the, quote "Diss: The sudden change from the severe December to a warm relaxing condition caused a great mortality among old people." (In January)? Quite disturbing IMO.

Certainly warmer here I left my jumper at home today, if it was not for the rain I would have been working in my shirt. This time last month I was in very nearly full Arctic dress lol.

Regards,

Russ.

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  • 8 months later...
Posted
  • Location: Irlam
  • Location: Irlam

With wetterzentrale charts going back to 1871, we can look at what happen with this winter.

Quite a winter snow storm chart this for mid December

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/pics/archive/ra/1874/Rrea00118741214.gif

The year of 1874 ended with an easterly blast.

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/pics/archive/ra/1874/Rrea00118741231.gif

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/pics/archive/ra/1874/Rrea00218741231.gif

Now we can see why it went belly-up in the New Year as the Scandi high collapsed and SWlies flooded across the UK

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/pics/archive/ra/1875/Rrea00118750103.gif

The charts look January 1996ish with a standoff between the low in the Atlantic and higher pressures to the east

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/pics/archive/ra/1875/Rrea00118750110.gif

The Atlantic breakthrough

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/pics/archive/ra/1875/Rrea00118750120.gif

High pressure had some control during part of February

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/pics/archive/ra/1875/Rrea00118750213.gif

Towards the end of the month, an easterly blast

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/pics/archive/ra/1875/Rrea00118750221.gif

And a battleground set up

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/pics/archive/ra/1875/Rrea00118750228.gif

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Posted
  • Location: Rossland BC Canada
  • Location: Rossland BC Canada

Bookmark this -- you can access any day you want from 1871 to yesterday by changing YEAR, MO and DA (year, month and day) in this address:

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/pics/archive/ra/YEAR/Rrea001YEARMODA.gif

If you don't make the numerical substitutions, you won't see anything by clicking on this.

So pick a date you want to see and find two places to sub for "YEAR" and one for month and date. A date in the range 1-9 goes in as 01, 02 etc. Don't add any spaces or do anything except type the numbers over the letters. I've tested it out, it works from 1871 to 2010.

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Posted
  • Location: Hobart, Tasmania
  • Location: Hobart, Tasmania

I do find this historical data incredibly fascinating. It surprises me that there were such wild fluctuations in temperature between one winter month and the next. Is there any chance that some of the records might have questionable accuracy? Just a thought.

Moose

I'm going along with what Moose said.

When was the Stevenson screen first used to sheild the thermometre from elements that affect a proper reading? Ground radiation, wind chill for example.

I was discussing this with a guy from my local Met office. Records officially began in 1882 where I live, but the Stevenson screen only came into play from 1905 onwards. Any readings prior to 1905 therefore should be taken with caution.

And heres another thing to think about.

I was astounded to see that in temperature records for Hobart there was a listing for a minimum of 2.8C on Christmas Day in 1902. (The average is 12.0 ). The weather guy told me that the written record was difficult to decipher ( untidy hand writing and smudged ink ! ). It was included though, but there was a question mark about its accuracy, as there is for many *individual dates*.

I'm sure deciphering old hand writing on old paper and "guessing" what the numbers are is a world-wide problem.!

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