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Winter 1985-86: The last sub zero CET month


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Posted
  • Location: Irlam
  • Location: Irlam

December 1985 was mild and unsettled up to Christmas but after Christmas there was a cold spell. The CET for the month was 6.3, the warmest December since 1974.

The month began in complete contrast to November. Whilst November ended cold and wintry, December began very mild and wet.

Tropical SWlies flooded the UK and maxima easily reached double figures nearly everywhere, Harrogate recorded a maxima of 16C on the 1st, making it the mildest start to December since 1979.

On the 2nd, a maxima of 17.7C was recorded at Chivenor in Devon.

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/archive/ra/19...00119851202.gif

Pressure was high near Greenland and this very occasionally affected the far north of Scotland with colder weather

but it was generally mild and unsettled across many parts for the period up to Christmas. There was a drier and calmer interlude around the 8th to the 10th when fog was widespread.

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/archive/ra/19...00119851209.gif

The high near Greenland began to intensify and ridge towards the Azores high just before Christmas. Colder northerlies began to push into Scotland on Christmas Day but further south it was wet especially in the SE.

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/archive/ra/19...00119851225.gif

The colder weather reached all parts by the 27th, maxima were below freezing and there were snow showers in the north and east.

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/archive/ra/19...00119851228.gif

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/archive/ra/19...00219851229.gif

Night frosts were severe as the high over Greenland moved across the UK. By the 30th, Atlantic systems were moving into the west bringing milder weather after a short period of snow.

The early part of January 1986 was very interesting with a battle between the cold continental air over Scandinavia and the mild Atlantic air trying to push in.

A low crossed southern parts on the 2nd and introduced a colder northerly airflow to the UK on the 3rd. An Atlantic system moved into the west on the 4th and this was expected to bring milder weather to the UK, however the colder air remained and there was snowfalls across many parts of the north, several inches in places.

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/archive/ra/19...00119860104.gif

The 6th was cold but dry under a ridge but by the 7th, the next system was moving into the southwest bringing widespread snowfalls to many parts of England and Wales, several inchs across the Midlands but yet again the

predicted milder weather failed to make inroads and the next day was cold across many parts of the UK with a snowcover.

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/archive/ra/19...00119860107.gif

It wasn't until the 9th that the Atlantic finally broke through bringing the milder weather.

There was then an unsettled spell with lows tracking through until the 24th when a low pulled down a northerly flow on the 24th.

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/archive/ra/19...00119860124.gif

The next Atlantic system cam up against this cold pool and there were snowfalls.

A major change in the weather patterns took place as high pressure intensified over Russia forcing the low to dive southwards and to draw in an easterly flow across the UK. This was the start of the very cold spell.

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/archive/ra/19...00119860131.gif

February 1986 was a very cold month with a CET 0f -1.1C and is the most recent sub zero CET month.

The month began with easterly winds across the UK with low pressure over central Europe and high pressure to the north.

The winds were not especially cold and it was largely cloudy with rain or drizzle with any snow confined to higher ground.

The high to the north moved into Scandinavia on the 5th and this introduced a much colder easterly flow to the UK.

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/archive/ra/19...00119860207.gif

There was widespread snowfalls across the south and east of England as a trough move westwards in the flow.

On the 9th, a second trough moved through southern parts and this brought further snowfalls and even colder air.

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/archive/ra/19...00219860209.gif

In the clearer air, there were severe frosts in southern and eastern parts with minima below -10C.

Atlantic systems tried to break the block on the 14th, the far SW had some rain or snow as the systems approached.

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/archive/ra/19...00119860214.gif

In the east, it was cloudy with snow flurries and there were heavier snow showers in eastern Scotland on the 18th

and a trough in the flow gave the south further light snowfalls on the 19th.

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/archive/ra/19...00119860219.gif

Atlantic systems were steered to the south of the UK by the blocking high to the north and these brought snowfalls

to the SW and Channel Islands, where depths of 15cm were recorded in some places. The easterly winds continued unabated and a very cold dry blast spread from the east across the UK on the 25th.

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/archive/ra/19...00119860225.gif

It was sunny but maxima were sub zero and some of the coldest minima of the month was recorded, -21.2C at Granton-on-Spey.

It was a dry bitterly cold month. The winds were almost entirely easterly and there was not one spell of Atlantic weather in the entire month.

December 1985: 6.3

January 1986: 3.5

February 1986: -1.1

February 1986 is the 5th coldest February on record.

February CET mean max: 1.2

February CET mean min: -3.4

Coldest spells of winter

27th-30th Dec 1985: -1.9

4th-8th Jan 1986: 0.4

6th-18th Feb 1986: -1.51

20th-27th Feb 1986: -2.31

The period 25th Jan- 3rd Mar 1986: -0.6

The mildest CET maximum day: 14.4 2nd December

The coldest CET maximum day: -0.7 6th February

the coldest CET minimum night: -8.7 10th February

Here's some data form that month

Heathrow

Mean Max: 1.7C Mean Min: -2.7C Highest Max: 4.1C Air frosts: 24

Lying snow: 8 days Falling sleet/snow: 15 days

Manchester

Mean Max: 2.1C Mean Min: -2.3C Highest Max: 4.9C Air frosts: 24

Lying snow: 8 days Falling sleet/snow: 21 days

Bedford

Mean Max: -0.2C Mean Min: -5.4C Highest Max: 2.6C Air frosts: 25

Lying snow: 23 days Falling sleet/snow: 16 days

Aberdeen

Mean Max: 2.1C Mean Min: -3.1C Highest Max: 5.6C Air frosts: 19

Lying snow: 17 days Falling sleet/snow: 17 days

Edited by Mr_Data
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Posted
  • Location: biggin hill kent 205m
  • Location: biggin hill kent 205m

Hi Mr Data

Remember that winter very well and in the South up until 24th January the winter had been mostly mild but February was freezing almost for the whole month. Could you confirm that the 1st March Central London had its coldest March day ever recorded with light/ heavy snow and Max -1.2c min -4c just going on memory here.

Snow only affected the South East that day with lower temps in rural areas .Just imagine if we had a day like that now even in Mid January. :blink:

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Posted
  • Location: Lincoln, Lincolnshire
  • Weather Preferences: Sunshine, convective precipitation, snow, thunderstorms, "episodic" months.
  • Location: Lincoln, Lincolnshire

Most snow lovers would probably have been left happy by that winter, with the positive NAO but sometimes snowy nature of the January, and then the easterly February.

They don't make 'em like they used to.

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

February 1986 was a truly bitter month here. The temperature exceeded 0c on only two days, the 1st when it reached 0.2c and the 24th at 0.7c. It was below 0c continuously from the 2nd to the 23rd and again from the 25th until the early morning of March 4th.

The mean max' for the month was -1.6c.

There was between 25 and 30cm lying snow throughout the month and a notable glaze event at the beginning when everything was covered with up to 5cm glaze and rime. The Thorn trees on the moor here were so weighed down with ice that the branches became welded into the ice on the snow surface, ice that was so thick that I could walk across a foot of snow and only occasionally break through the crust. This followed several days of thick freezing fog and drizzle with the temperature continuously between -1.5c and -0.2c accompaned by a NE wind which reached gale force on the 1st, gusting to 72 mph.

I recall an unhappy incident on the evening of Feb' 1st 1986 while taking the met' readings. I carry all the necessary observing stuff in a photographers canvas zip up bag and normally during gales I leave the bag behind an adjacent wall with a rock on it, taking only the anemometer, compass and notebook with me to do the windspeed reading. On this particular evening, for some reason, I took the whole bag full of kit and decided to stand on part of it to hold it down.

The mean wind speed was 52 mph, gusting to 65, it was pitch dark with thick freezing fog and continuous moderate freezing drizzle, visibility was a few yards at most and it was extremely difficult to stand on a thick crust of ice over 30 cm of snow.

I strapped on the Petzl and began taking the wind readings. About half way through an enormous gust, in excess of the 64mph I noticed before I was blown over, removed me from the bag which shot across the glazed snow at the prevailing wind speed and disappeared into the blackness.

It took about 20 bone chilling minutes to locate it and almost all its strewn contents ( needless to say, I hadn't bothered fastening the zips ). Fortunately it had travelled only about 300 yards before coming to rest in a small hollow, potentially it could have gone for a couple of miles, even more if it had become airborne.

Happy days!

T.M

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Posted
  • Location: South Derbyshire nr. Burton on Trent, Midlands, UK: alt 262 feet
  • Weather Preferences: Extreme winter cold,heavy bowing snow,freezing fog.Summer 2012
  • Location: South Derbyshire nr. Burton on Trent, Midlands, UK: alt 262 feet
The mean wind speed was 52 mph, gusting to 65, it was pitch dark with thick freezing fog and continuous moderate freezing drizzle, visibility was a few yards at most and it was extremely difficult to stand on a thick crust of ice over 30 cm of snow.

T.M

Strooth TM, what an amazing experience, you never fail to leave me gob smacked, I just can’t imagine that. :lol:

and you wan't to relive them :D

Paul

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Posted
  • Location: Derbyshire Peak District. 290 mts a.s.l.
  • Weather Preferences: Anything extreme
  • Location: Derbyshire Peak District. 290 mts a.s.l.
Strooth TM, what an amazing experience, you never fail to leave me gob smacked, I just can’t imagine that. :lol:

and you wan't to relive them :D

Paul

Yes, Paul, no matter how I've 'suffered' in the cold it's never put me off. It's either a case of absolute love for it all or perhaps a case of where there's no sense there's no feeling!!

T.M

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  • 4 years later...
Posted
  • Location: Powys Mid Wales borders.
  • Location: Powys Mid Wales borders.

Most snow lovers would probably have been left happy by that winter, with the positive NAO but sometimes snowy nature of the January, and then the easterly February.

They don't make 'em like they used to.

The January wasn`t the memorable month only the end(the forecast was memorable too)it`s until the end when the low comes and february easterly gales,I remember the wet november floods and mild december but can`t remember nothing much about January looked pretty marginal for snow on some of those charts,I must of been in school not alot of disruptive snow until the end of Jan that low is the one to remember still struggling to settle with dripping off the roof`s,but no snow on low ground whatsover,until well into feb when the much colder easterly came.

At least there wasn`t the amount of ice here TM had from freezing driving drizzle.

1996 gave more of that.

Those troughs of snow did give orange drifting snow at one time too,which was very interesting.

Most number of days for drifting/blizzards snow I`ve seen in a month,but there was nothing extreme like february 1985.

Still waiting for another month like it,I`d take a 1996 Winter/spring again as it was very easterly.

What makes a winter memorable for me is an easterly it seems.

25 years remember this day like yesterday. :rolleyes:

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/archive/ra/1986/Rrea00119860130.gif

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Posted
  • Location: Camborne
  • Location: Camborne

February 1986 was a truly bitter month here. The temperature exceeded 0c on only two days, the 1st when it reached 0.2c and the 24th at 0.7c. It was below 0c continuously from the 2nd to the 23rd and again from the 25th until the early morning of March 4th.

The mean max' for the month was -1.6c.

There was between 25 and 30cm lying snow throughout the month and a notable glaze event at the beginning when everything was covered with up to 5cm glaze and rime. The Thorn trees on the moor here were so weighed down with ice that the branches became welded into the ice on the snow surface, ice that was so thick that I could walk across a foot of snow and only occasionally break through the crust. This followed several days of thick freezing fog and drizzle with the temperature continuously between -1.5c and -0.2c accompaned by a NE wind which reached gale force on the 1st, gusting to 72 mph.

I recall an unhappy incident on the evening of Feb' 1st 1986 while taking the met' readings. I carry all the necessary observing stuff in a photographers canvas zip up bag and normally during gales I leave the bag behind an adjacent wall with a rock on it, taking only the anemometer, compass and notebook with me to do the windspeed reading. On this particular evening, for some reason, I took the whole bag full of kit and decided to stand on part of it to hold it down.

The mean wind speed was 52 mph, gusting to 65, it was pitch dark with thick freezing fog and continuous moderate freezing drizzle, visibility was a few yards at most and it was extremely difficult to stand on a thick crust of ice over 30 cm of snow.

I strapped on the Petzl and began taking the wind readings. About half way through an enormous gust, in excess of the 64mph I noticed before I was blown over, removed me from the bag which shot across the glazed snow at the prevailing wind speed and disappeared into the blackness.

It took about 20 bone chilling minutes to locate it and almost all its strewn contents ( needless to say, I hadn't bothered fastening the zips ). Fortunately it had travelled only about 300 yards before coming to rest in a small hollow, potentially it could have gone for a couple of miles, even more if it had become airborne.

Happy days!

T.M

I can well undestand why you won't forget that in a hurry TM. If it's of any interest the charts for 1800z on the 1st Feb. 1986.Mr. D mentond even colder air by the 9th illustrated by the 850mb temps.

Edited by weather ship
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Posted
  • Location: Powys Mid Wales borders.
  • Location: Powys Mid Wales borders.

TM was underplaying the wind there at 52 mean those would be severe E-NE-ly gales and freezing drizzle a vile wind chill there.

Lots of fine snow grains bringing those blizzards,after the drizzle colder air came snow top froze 6 inches here by this time then,drizzle and NE strong - gales this day though.

Did I say flooding in november that would be nov 86 of course november 1985 was very cold which I also remember about 3 or 4inches there was.

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  • 9 years later...
Posted
  • Location: Home: Chingford, London (NE). Work: London (C)
  • Weather Preferences: Winter: cold and snowy. Summer: hot and sunny
  • Location: Home: Chingford, London (NE). Work: London (C)

 

 

 

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  • 7 months later...
Posted
  • Location: Edmonton Alberta(via Chelmsford, Exeter & Calgary)
  • Weather Preferences: Sunshine and 15-25c
  • Location: Edmonton Alberta(via Chelmsford, Exeter & Calgary)
1 hour ago, SortingHat said:

How was the infrastructure impacted during this cold spell and how did it effect life?

not at all from what i remember..life went on as normal..it was cold but not particularly snowy so little in the way of disruption.

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Posted
  • Location: Marion County Oregon
  • Location: Marion County Oregon
1 hour ago, cheeky_monkey said:

not at all from what i remember..life went on as normal..it was cold but not particularly snowy so little in the way of disruption.

Any school delays you think?

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  • 7 months later...
Posted
  • Location: Islington, C. London.
  • Weather Preferences: Cold, snowy winters and mixed summers.
  • Location: Islington, C. London.

Looking at the synoptics and reports from February 1986 and absolutely wishing for a repeat. Even without exceptional snowfall, what an experience to have a month where your highest temperature all month is 1C! If you had told any weather enthusiast that after this and 1987 proper cold winters would become so rare you’d probably be laughed at. February 2022 wont be a repeat sadly but here’s to February 2023!

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Posted
  • Location: Windermere 120m asl
  • Location: Windermere 120m asl
7 hours ago, LetItSnow! said:

Looking at the synoptics and reports from February 1986 and absolutely wishing for a repeat. Even without exceptional snowfall, what an experience to have a month where your highest temperature all month is 1C! If you had told any weather enthusiast that after this and 1987 proper cold winters would become so rare you’d probably be laughed at. February 2022 wont be a repeat sadly but here’s to February 2023!

A sub zero Feb will pop up out of the blue at some point just like Dec 10.. might be another 20 odd years or so! The experience of winter 09-10, Dec 10 and Mar 13 gave me hope for the future.. alas apart from mini cold spell end Feb 18 into March nothing since! 

Edited by damianslaw
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Posted
  • Location: Islington, C. London.
  • Weather Preferences: Cold, snowy winters and mixed summers.
  • Location: Islington, C. London.
1 hour ago, damianslaw said:

A sub zero Feb will pop up out of the blue at some point just like Dec 10.. might be another 20 odd years or so! The experience of winter 09-10, Dec 10 and Mar 13 gave me hope for the future.. alas apart from mini cold spell end Feb 18 into March nothing since! 

I do agree. I think a lot of us were thinking that last year was a teaster for something greater this year but alas, no. I do think a 62/63 will creep up one day and take many by surprises. Also about December 2010, when you look at a graph of the average C.E.T. for the past 30 years it hasn't changed a great deal and I don't really think our climate has shifted much at all from the 1990s so there's nothing IMO stopping some great spells occuring. It's just about them lasting more than a week!

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Posted
  • Location: Edmonton Alberta(via Chelmsford, Exeter & Calgary)
  • Weather Preferences: Sunshine and 15-25c
  • Location: Edmonton Alberta(via Chelmsford, Exeter & Calgary)
3 minutes ago, LetItSnow! said:

I do agree. I think a lot of us were thinking that last year was a teaster for something greater this year but alas, no. I do think a 62/63 will creep up one day and take many by surprises. Also about December 2010, when you look at a graph of the average C.E.T. for the past 30 years it hasn't changed a great deal and I don't really think our climate has shifted much at all from the 1990s so there's nothing IMO stopping some great spells occuring. It's just about them lasting more than a week!

trouble is you dont realise you have lived through an unusually cold or hot month until it is mostly over..there was no way of knowing even in the first two or even three weeks of Feb 1986 it would end up a sub zero month

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Posted
  • Location: Ossett, West Yorkshire
  • Location: Ossett, West Yorkshire
2 hours ago, LetItSnow! said:

I do agree. I think a lot of us were thinking that last year was a teaster for something greater this year but alas, no. I do think a 62/63 will creep up one day and take many by surprises. Also about December 2010, when you look at a graph of the average C.E.T. for the past 30 years it hasn't changed a great deal and I don't really think our climate has shifted much at all from the 1990s so there's nothing IMO stopping some great spells occuring. It's just about them lasting more than a week!

Winter 2020-21 could have been a teaser winter for something even colder this winter, and it looked fairly promising especially after last year's first significantly cold April CET since 1989, and up until the end of last summer the prospects for this winter looked good, but then the warm September came along and winter 2021-22 has turned out to be the "warm September = mild winter theory winter," well and truly testing it and unfortunately coming true again, and clearly shows along with other previous examples that warm Septembers do not favour a colder winter to follow, and warm Septembers really are winter killer patterns for any cold patterns to develop in the following winter.

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Posted
  • Location: Hampshire
  • Weather Preferences: Warm-by-day sunny thundery summers , short cold snowy winters.
  • Location: Hampshire

How I would love to swap this ghastly month for something like 1986.

Edited by Summer8906
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Posted
  • Location: Hampshire
  • Weather Preferences: Warm-by-day sunny thundery summers , short cold snowy winters.
  • Location: Hampshire
On 13/07/2021 at 03:08, SortingHat said:

Any school delays you think?

I was at school during this month (and Jan 1985 and 1987) and there was no disruption, and the school was in one of the snowier areas of the country (the southeast). IIRC it never closed even in 1987, but they were tolerant of people not coming in.

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Posted
  • Location: halifax 125m
  • Weather Preferences: extremes the unusual and interesting facts
  • Location: halifax 125m
2 hours ago, Summer8906 said:

I was at school during this month (and Jan 1985 and 1987) and there was no disruption, and the school was in one of the snowier areas of the country (the southeast). IIRC it never closed even in 1987, but they were tolerant of people not coming in.

I remember one winter whilst at school in the early 80s my Mother rang school to send us home as the snow was getting bad.The kids at school were ridiculing us as there was just a light cover and roads were clear at the school which was around 600 feetAsl.We had to walk home in those days and it was 2 miles uphill to our secluded farmhouse at 1130ft Asl,we were the highest house in the valley and the roads were drifting with 2 foot drifts by the time we got home and the next day we spent digging the lane for Dad to be able to get to work.When we went back to school 2 days later no one believed us,its another world when you get some altitude.

 

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Posted
  • Location: Crossgates, Leeds. 76m ASL
  • Weather Preferences: Temperatures ≤25ºC ≥10ºC.
  • Location: Crossgates, Leeds. 76m ASL

Found a video of galloping conductors somewhere in the moors around Blackburn, from Feb 1st 1986. Shows the horrendous conditions at the time.
 

 

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Posted
  • Location: halifax 125m
  • Weather Preferences: extremes the unusual and interesting facts
  • Location: halifax 125m
50 minutes ago, Stelmer said:

Found a video of galloping conductors somewhere in the moors around Blackburn, from Feb 1st 1986. Shows the horrendous conditions at the time.
 

 

Wow,absolutely brilliant.These are exactly the conditions we had to endure for almost 6 weeks it 340metres where i lived and 365metres at the farm i woked at just a couple of miles from Blackstone edge.

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