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January 1881 and the Great Blizzard


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Posted
  • Location: Irlam
  • Location: Irlam

    January 1881 started off reasonable with high pressure to the south and a generally westerly southwesterly flow

    Rslp18810102.gif

    The weather turned much colder as the high migrated towards Greenland around the 8th

    Rslp18810109.gif

    Snowfalls broke out as a low pulled in from the east on the 11th

    Rslp18810111.gif

    It became increasingly colder as Arctic air was drawn over the UK and with a generally slack flow, nights were especially cold with the snow cover by the 15th with minima below -10C generally and locally -20C or below in a few places. Kelso recorded minima of -22.2 on the 16th, -26.7 on the 17th and -24.4 on the 18th

    Rslp18810115.gif

    Atlantic systems slipped to the south of the UK and on the 18th, one system rapidly developed in the English Channel to produce of the worst blizzards to ever hit southern parts of the UK.

    The snowfalls began on the 17th in the southwest and as the sytem deepened as it moved through the Channel, a gale force easterly developed over southern parts with heavy blizzards and drifting snow. From a line from the Humber to Aberyswyth southwards, many areas recorded at least 10cm of snow, 30cm or over fell over southern coastal counties of England and in some places such as Dorset, 60cm of snow fell. The Isle of Wight recorded nearly a metre of level snow.

    There were huge drifts even in the centre of London and the whole of the south grounded to the halt.

    Rslp18810118.gif

    The snowfalls continued into the next day but they eventually died out as high pressure pushed down from the north. With the deep cover and clear skies, there were some intensely cold nights with minima often below -10C and -20C was recorded in a few places.

    Rslp18810123.gif

    Milder Atlantic air finally broke through on the 27th but this produced flooding as the snow thawed.

    Rslp18810127.gif

    Data for January 1881

    CET: -1.5 (-5.2) Joint 8th coldest January ever recorded

    8th-27th January: -4.4

    Coldest CET minimum: -12.9 21st

    Coldest CET maximum: -4.4 14th

    Edited by Mr_Data
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    Posted
  • Location: Irlam
  • Location: Irlam

    January 1881 was the third consecutive cold snowy January, all three had colder second halves

    January 1879: -0.7

    January 1880: 0.9

    January 1881: -1.5

    Photos of January 1881

    http://www.findonvillage.com/p7009_shoreham_0298.jpg

    http://www.findonvillage.com/p7012_shoreham_0198.jpg

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

    Thanks Mr Data,

    A great read as usual whilst we await or own winter Blizzard :)

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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)

    always a good read mr data....old weather events long forgotten r always fascinating....well done!!

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    Posted
  • Location: just south of Doncaster, Sth Yorks
  • Location: just south of Doncaster, Sth Yorks

    as ever very interesting.

    How long do you think it will be before you run out of cold/snow situations?

    John

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    • 9 months later...
    Posted
  • Location: Atherstone on Stour: 160ft asl
  • Location: Atherstone on Stour: 160ft asl

    Excellent stuff Mr D

    There were huge drifts even in the centre of London and the whole of the south grounded to the halt

    Imagine that now, the 24hr news media would pop a fuse :) & NW would crash.

    We'd have to instigate the ultra-secret SATSIGS level 6

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    Posted
  • Location: Irlam
  • Location: Irlam
    There were huge drifts even in the centre of London and the whole of the south grounded to the halt

    Imagine that now, the 24hr news media would pop a fuse :girl_devil: & NW would crash.

    :ph34r:

    Just looking at the data, say it was -1C and that 60mph wind was accurate then it would mean a windchill of -12C with heavy blinding snow. Visibility would be practically zero.

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

    Here is the original snow depth map (published in 1881) that was constructed from reports given by observers on the Great Blizzard of 18th/19th January 1881.

    1881snowa057.jpg

    The white shading are for depths of 12 inches and greater

    The vertical shading are for depths of between 6 and 12 inches

    The horizontal shading are for depths of 6 inches and less.

    Reports from around the counties

    London/Middlesex: Snow started falling around 9am on the 18th and lasted until about midday on the 19th. It was accompanied by a violent gale. General depth of 9 inches and 3 feet drifts.

    Surrey: About 9 inches generally.

    Kent: 3 to 4 inches along coast, 4-6 inches inland, 7 inches nearer London. 14 feet drifts on the Isle of Thanet.

    Sussex: 7-8 inches to the north. 24 inches at Worthing, 18 inches at Brighton, 12 inches at St Leonard's, 9 to 12 inches at Littlehampton.

    Isle of Wight and south Hampshire: A staggering 34 inches in two falls at Newport on Isle of Wight. St Lawrence with 22 inches, Osborne and Ventnor with 18 inches and 24 inches at Ryde. Many roads were filled with snow up to halfway on lamp-posts. 12 feet drifts at Cowes. A hall collapsed at Portsmouth due to weight of snow.

    Berkshire: Ranging from 9 inches to east up to 15 inches in west.

    Hertfordshire: 6 to 9 inches.

    Buckinghamshire: About 7 inches in general

    Oxfordshire: 12 to 13 inches. 13 feet drifts in places.

    Northamptonshire: 6 inches generally but in the SW of county it was 12 inches.

    Huntindgonshire: 5 inches to NE to 8 inches in south.

    Bedfordshire: 7 inches, 10 feet drifts

    Cambridgeshire: About 7 inches.

    Essex: 6 inches along coast, 9 inches to west.

    Suffolk: 2-3 inches along the coast up to 7 inches in west.

    Norfolk: 9 inches generally

    Wiltshire: 6 inches at Calne, 36 inches at Warminster. 12 feet drifts.

    Dorset: 12-14 inches inland, 18 to 20 inches along coast.

    Devonshire: 12 to 14 inches generally, 3 feet over Dartmoor. 15 feet drifts.

    Cornwall: 12 inches in far east, 7 inches generally

    Somerset: 12 to 13 inches in the south and east, 8 to 10 inches in west and north.

    Gloucestershire: 9 to 10 inches in south, 6 to 7 inches in north. 7 to 10 feet drifts.

    Herefordshire: 10 to 11 inches in south, 6 inches in the north.

    Shropshire: 3 inches in the north, 5 inches in the south.

    Staffordshire: 1 to 4 inches

    Worcestershire: 5 to 6 inches.

    Warwickshire: 4 inches in north, 7 to 8 inches over central parts, 12 inches in SE of county

    Leicestershire: 6 inches and 6 feet drifts.

    Lincolnshire: 6 to 7 inches

    South Wales: About 6 inches with 9 inches around Monmouthshire.

    Radnorshire: 15 inches

    Denbighshire: 6 inches

    From the Wirral to just north of Flamborough Head northwards, no snow fell from this storm although there was a deep cover of snow over a wide area. For instance, parts of the Lancashire plain had a general cover of 6 inches.

    Specific reports

    Andover: 12 inches

    Basingstoke: 4 inches

    Barnstaple: 36 inches

    Dorchester: 36 inches

    Exeter: 12 inches

    Fareham: 30 inches

    Guildford: 8 inches

    Havant: 36 inches

    Lidford: 15 inches

    Okehampton: 36 inches

    Plymouth: 18 inches

    Portsmouth: 30 inches

    Ringwood: 36 inches

    Salisbury: 9 inches

    Southampton: 12 inches

    Tottenham: 8 inches

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    Posted
  • Location: Derbyshire Peak District 290 mts. Wind speed 340 mts
  • Weather Preferences: Rain/snow, fog, gales and cold in every season
  • Location: Derbyshire Peak District 290 mts. Wind speed 340 mts

    If a repeat of that were to occur I would be inconsolable. To see southernmost counties of England getting 3 feet of level snow when I had only a couple of inches at most would be too much to bear.

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    Posted
  • Location: Warminster, Wiltshire
  • Location: Warminster, Wiltshire
    Wiltshire: 6 inches at Calne, 36 inches at Warminster. 12 feet drifts.

    ;) I live 4 miles from Warminster.

    It seems remarkable that Calne should have 30 inches less because there's only about 15/20 miles as the crow flies between the two towns. That was either due to a severe Salisbury Plain effect or that the Warminster depth was drift effected - although it does say 12 feet drifts!!

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

    Great post Mr Data, do you happen to know if the Isle of Wight's 1 meter (nearly) of level snow is a record for the UK or just England?

    I will settle for 0.5m from this current low without moaning in the slightest b/w B)

    Regards,

    Russ

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

    Thanks Paul, I was optimistically hoping...

    OMG I just noticed my wording was unintentionally ostentatious. It sounds like I thought the IoW had the record :rolleyes: "Or just England".....Hmmmmm :nonono:

    Edited by Rustynailer
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    Posted
  • Location: Buntingford, North East Hertfordshire (120m asl) and Enfield, London (20m asl)
  • Location: Buntingford, North East Hertfordshire (120m asl) and Enfield, London (20m asl)

    Love the articles reporting from different parts of the country.

    Cambridge 19 Jan 1881:

    "The streets and roads are almost impassable, the snow being several feet deep". :shok:

    Amazing how life still continued almost as normal, if that happened nowadays the country will just be at a standstill and a national disaster would be declared.

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