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The Times: 12th July 1888. Did it snow in London?


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

Philip Eden wrote about this snowfall in his 1995 book Weatherwise and seriously questioned the correctness of the snow reports at low levels, due to general early-morning temperature observations of 4-8C at the time, suggesting that much of it was probably hail. It is certainly possible for snow to fall at those temperatures, but it usually happens during the daytime when solar heating generates a strong thermal contrast between the surface and upper atmosphere.

However, the reports of snow cover on the high ground (including Skiddaw) most likely were genuine snow reports.

As usual, many thanks for bringing up this information!

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  • Location: Skirlaugh, East Yorkshire
  • Location: Skirlaugh, East Yorkshire

The chart from the 11th July 1888:


Its quite difficult to tell but that looks like a direct Arctic northerly. Snow in London is very debateable though. Ive scoured the archives and one month which contained two potent cold spells during July was in 1965. The setups were generally quite similar, but 850hPa temperatures rarely dipped much below -2C on either.

I suppose with perfect synoptics, an abnormally cold pool of air and low heights it would be possible in heavier showers, but the chance, even in 1888, seems pretty remote.

Edited by reef
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  • 2 years later...
  • Location: Irlam
  • Location: Irlam

London temps for that month

1. 66f, 45f

2. 59f, 51f

3. 68f, 54f

4. 66f, 52f

5. 66f, 53f

7. 62f, 52f

8. 57f, 51f

9. 67f, 50f

10. 67f, 49f

11. 62f, 44f

12. 54f, 43f

13. 55f, 45f

14. 71f, 55f

15. 71f, 55f

16. 61f, 55f

17. 66f, 50f

18. 68f, 56f

19. 71f, 56f

20. 70f, 57f

21. 65f, 55f

22. 66f, 56f

23. 72f, 56f

24. 69f, 55f

25. 69f, 57f

26. 62f, 54f

27. 70f, 52f

28. 69f, 57f

29. 68f, 53f

30. 71f, 54f

31. 58f, 51f

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  • Location: Purley, Surrey - 246 Ft ASL
  • Weather Preferences: January 1987 / July 2006
  • Location: Purley, Surrey - 246 Ft ASL

Chilly nights!

I am very envious though, it is too hot at night at the moment.

I must admit I would be surprised if snow did fall in London. It is hard enough in winter never mind summer, then again it was 122 Years ago, but even so....

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  • Location: North York Moors
  • Location: North York Moors

It only says snow falling, I could believe some wet flakes among the rain.

At 3 or 4am soft hail among rain seems less likely than in a convective daytime burst.

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