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Winter Snow Events


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

Here is the updated version of my Winter Snow Events analysis. It uses a wider range of sources and so I hope I have captured almost every snow event of significance that affected lowland areas of Britain.

This version only goes back to 1946/47 because the sources I have for the earlier years are less comprehensive and so I would miss more of the snow events, resulting in a biased set of results. It also puts the recent winter of 2008/09 into some kind of context.

Edit: forgot to mention, the purpose is to assess how snowy each of the UK's winters were over the period, using a statistical method where snow events are awarded points of 1 to 5 depending on how widespread and significant they were.

Winter_Snow_Events revision 2009.doc

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Posted
  • Location: Longden, Shropshire
  • Location: Longden, Shropshire

Cheers for that TWS. An interesting read and not suprised to see 2008/09 being the snowiest Winter since 1995/96! I wonder how 2009/10 will fair?

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Posted
  • Location: Teesdale,Co Durham. 360m asl
  • Location: Teesdale,Co Durham. 360m asl

Just highlights the severity of the almost forgotten winters of 1950/51 and 1954/55.

Nice to see 1978/79 recognised as such a snowy winter above that of 1962/63.

Mark

Teesdale,Co Durham

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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)

its a nobable effort..problem is it is almost impossible to quantify a country wide table. I could see some events missing or catergorised differently in the areas i have lived in. However thats because of my local knowledge and my own opinion as to the severity of an event.

maybe if you had people doing the same kind of table in their own regions and then collated them all together into a national table?

intersting read though.

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Posted
  • Location: Beccles, Suffolk.
  • Weather Preferences: Thunder, snow, heat, sunshine...
  • Location: Beccles, Suffolk.

Brilliant work, Ian... The snowless '70s do show that a future decent winter is not impossible...

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Posted
  • Location: Hayward’s Heath - home, Brighton/East Grinstead - work.
  • Weather Preferences: Snow and storms
  • Location: Hayward’s Heath - home, Brighton/East Grinstead - work.

Great work and good to see some numerical value to each winter. Thanks Ian.

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Posted
  • Location: Cheddington, Buckinghamshire
  • Weather Preferences: Winter: Cold & Snowy, Summer: Just not hot
  • Location: Cheddington, Buckinghamshire

Fantastic TWS, following on from your brilliant Winter setups guide!

Just read the 1979 entry, I just cannot begin to imagine what that must have been like!

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Posted
  • Location: W Kent/E Sussex border (T Wells) 139m ASL
  • Location: W Kent/E Sussex border (T Wells) 139m ASL

TWS,

Thanks for all the effort put in to produce this analysis. This is a good reference document that can be updated as each winter passes!

It is particularly interesting to note that although 2008/9 (35 on your index) was snowier than we have gotten used to, it was not significantly above the "average" (circa 33) over the whole period examined.

It makes make me wonder what would happen if we ever had a year in the 50+ range on your index!

MM

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Posted
  • Location: warwick 74m. asl
  • Weather Preferences: WHITE GOLD
  • Location: warwick 74m. asl

Here is the updated version of my Winter Snow Events analysis. It uses a wider range of sources and so I hope I have captured almost every snow event of significance that affected lowland areas of Britain.

This version only goes back to 1946/47 because the sources I have for the earlier years are less comprehensive and so I would miss more of the snow events, resulting in a biased set of results. It also puts the recent winter of 2008/09 into some kind of context.

Edit: forgot to mention, the purpose is to assess how snowy each of the UK's winters were over the period, using a statistical method where snow events are awarded points of 1 to 5 depending on how widespread and significant they were.

Winter_Snow_Events revision 2009.doc

Hi TWS, interesting read . Lets see what 2009/2010 holds. cheers FF.

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Posted
  • Location: G.Manchester
  • Location: G.Manchester

It is particularly interesting to note that although 2008/9 (35 on your index) was snowier than we have gotten used to, it was not significantly above the "average" (circa 33) over the whole period examined.

MM

2008/2009 wasn't a snowy winter. It was cold though.

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Posted
  • Location: Leeds (Roundhay) 135m
  • Location: Leeds (Roundhay) 135m

Really good work there smile.gif

I think you helped solve something for me as well, when i was young i remember a quite snowy winter, i remember he had to push the car up the street so they could take me to play group,

I think it may have been this one as i lived in Southport at the time

1995/96 - 37

A cold winter with snow amounts generally close to or above the long-term average. In north-west Lancashire it was the snowiest winter since 1981/82. Overall the snowiest winter of the 1990s, and by this classification, the snowiest for 10 years.

Category 4 Events: 5th-7th February (esp. west)

Category 3 Events: 5th-7th December (east), 24th-26th December (north & east), 25th-27th January, 19th-21st February

Category 2 Events: 17th November (east), 20th/21st December, 8th/9th February, 11th-13th February, 24th-26th February (west), 11th March (east), 10th-11th April

Category 1 Events: Mid December (south), 21st/22nd January, 2nd/3rd February (east), 25th/26th March (east), 28th-31st March (east), 1st-4th May (north), 16th-18th May (north)

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Posted
  • Location: South-West Norfolk
  • Location: South-West Norfolk

Interesting stuff, a very good read indeed. Although I think Jan 87 on the scale deserves to be higher, but then again maybe it was more local than I realised. Many villages were cut off for two weeks, I remember the A149 (lived in North Norfolk then) being completely blocked bank to bank, and it's pretty wide in places. I don't think I have ever seen so much snow or ever will again in my lifetime.

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Posted
  • Location: Teesdale,Co Durham. 360m asl
  • Location: Teesdale,Co Durham. 360m asl

Interesting stuff, a very good read indeed. Although I think Jan 87 on the scale deserves to be higher, but then again maybe it was more local than I realised. Many villages were cut off for two weeks, I remember the A149 (lived in North Norfolk then) being completely blocked bank to bank, and it's pretty wide in places. I don't think I have ever seen so much snow or ever will again in my lifetime.

The Jan 87 snow event is on the highest point of the scale, Level 5.

Mark

Teesdale,Co Durham

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Posted
  • Location: Broadmayne, West Dorset
  • Weather Preferences: Snowfall in particular but most aspects of weather, hate hot and humid.
  • Location: Broadmayne, West Dorset

Hi TWS

A very interesting piece. I,m not sure if have it already but my former colleague at WeatherNet Ltd. Dr Richard Wild completed his Phd in 2005.It is entitled, A spatial and temporal analysis of heavy snowfalls across Great Britain 1861-1999. I'm think you would find it very interesting if you don't already have access to it.

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

Thanks for mentioning that, because I was going to ask him for the username/password for ability to download particular chapters of the PhD and never got around to it. Have emailed him now.

During my time at the Met Office I had access to the Journal of Meteorology in which a large majority of Dr Richard Wild's papers on heavy (>13cm) snowfalls over the UK are located (I'm guessing they contain much the same info as in the PhD). Many thanks go to Terminal Moraine for originally directing my attention to them. They proved to be a useful source as there were some snow events that I missed from the earlier years that I was able to trace from the "heavy snow days" in his articles.

Quite a few other individuals have devised ways of documenting/categorising UK snowfalls over the years and all of the sources I used are credited on the first page. My document was largely inspired by Bonacina's work on UK snowfalls, where I felt that his categorisation was simplistic (either "Snowy", "Average" or "Little") and only gave details of some of the snow events, so I came up with this idea for a classification in order to get more detail in.

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Posted
  • Location: Northampton (90m ASL)
  • Location: Northampton (90m ASL)

Thanks TWS. Very interesting and well compiled research. Only had a quick look so far, but will explore in more depth later. How depressing that we haven't had a category 5 event since 1990/91. We are long overdue something of that severity in my bitterly biased opinion.

Quite a few other individuals have devised ways of documenting/categorising UK snowfalls over the years and all of the sources I used are credited on the first page. My document was largely inspired by Bonacina's work on UK snowfalls, where I felt that his categorisation was simplistic (either "Snowy", "Average" or "Little") and only gave details of some of the snow events, so I came up with this idea for a classification in order to get more detail in.

Speaking of that, do you know when the British Winter Snowfall Index will next be updated? I'm quite curious to see how the past few winters are categorised. I quite fancy the one just gone being the first "Snowy" since 95/96.

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

Speaking of that, do you know when the British Winter Snowfall Index will next be updated? I'm quite curious to see how the past few winters are categorised. I quite fancy the one just gone being the first "Snowy" since 95/96.

I don't know the answer- you'd have to ask N-W member "neforum2" aka Dave O'Hara who provides the updates to that analysis.

How close was last years event to being a 5.

The 2nd February easterly was prevented from being a 5 ("severe, affecting most of the country") by the pool of warmer air that moved west that evening, restricting the extent of snow accumulation in northern and eastern regions and even causing a thaw in places. I think it would probably have made a 5 if the air within that warmer pool had still been cold enough for widespread falling and lying snow.

The only other snow event that IMHO fell into the "severe" category in certain low-lying areas was the snowstorm over south-west England on 5th/6th February- 55cm in Okehampton for example- but I only gave that a 3 because, while certainly unusual, it affected a limited area of the country and many other areas saw no snow from it at all.

Choosing what value to give individual snow events is always prone to subjectivity so I don't realistically expect everybody to agree with all of the scores I give to individual snow events. It can sometimes be difficult to decide- I thought long and hard about what to award some of the snow events. One of the ideas behind my chosen system, though, is that hopefully over the course of a given winter the areas of subjectivity should largely cancel out leaving us with objective total scores.

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Posted
  • Location: South-West Norfolk
  • Location: South-West Norfolk

The Jan 87 snow event is on the highest point of the scale, Level 5.

Mark

Teesdale,Co Durham

Whoops my fault, I thought the worst hit us between the 15th and 17th, but that is probably just the date the photos I have were taken.

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

The large scale accumulations occurred between the 11th and 14th, initially in the form of heavy snow showers and then a more continuous area of snow. As far as I'm aware only slight snowfalls occurred between the 15th and 17th. However, the snow would have been deepest around the 15th as that was just after the major snowfalls had hit, which is consistent with the pictures being taken then.

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Posted
  • Location: Bethnal Green
  • Weather Preferences: Snow and Cold
  • Location: Bethnal Green
The 2nd February easterly was prevented from being a 5 ("severe, affecting most of the country") by the pool of warmer air that moved west that evening, restricting the extent of snow accumulation in northern and eastern regions and even causing a thaw in places. I think it would probably have made a 5 if the air within that warmer pool had still been cold enough for widespread falling and lying snow.

Don't remind me, a complete non-event here.

It goes to show that it's very difficult to give just one number for the whole country as we've had far more snowy winters during the 2000s than the one just passed. I'd go as far as to say it was below average snowfall wise for the 2000s.

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Posted
  • Location: Teesdale,Co Durham. 360m asl
  • Location: Teesdale,Co Durham. 360m asl

Don't remind me, a complete non-event here.

It goes to show that it's very difficult to give just one number for the whole country as we've had far more snowy winters during the 2000s than the one just passed. I'd go as far as to say it was below average snowfall wise for the 2000s.

Certainly wasn't below average for the 2000's here. Probably close to long term average, but I agree you on 2000/01 and 2005/06 snow seasons in terms of total snowfall/days lying etc were perhaps slighty more snowy here.

Snowfall/conditions were more severe at times than last winter in both these winters.

TWS's figures for winter's only give a general impression for the UK. There's bound to be certain variations regionally. For example 1978/79 was much more severe in central and Northern UK than in the South.

Mark

Teesdale,Co Durham

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

I think when judging these events, you're almost never going to get a '5' rating if the word 'marginal' slips in there. That was certainly the case for the majority of the snow events last winter.

Thats what the biggest disappointment was last winter around here. Temperatures were generally just a tad too warm, meaning we got rain and sleet whereas areas 10-20 miles inland or those with a bit of altitude had snow by the bucketloads.

Its a testament to how snow events go these days and TWS quit rightly avoids using the '5' rating since 1991. Thats mainly because although there have been some quite potent and severe events since then, there have almost always been areas that missed out.

These '5' events are what most people tend to remember when you ask them what a proper cold snap is like. For a lot of snow lovers, winters will continue to be disappointing until we get one again, but it shows how our winters have deteriorated over the last couple of decades as this rating has proved elusive.

If you ask me, you could almost say that our winter events have shifted down a rating. 5's are now as common as 4's used to be and 4's as common as 3's etc. You then have a series of what used to be '1', being a complete non-event. Notable examples being marginal snowfalls from polar maritime airflows. Higher SSTs have generally put an end to those.

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Posted
  • Location: Windermere 120m asl
  • Location: Windermere 120m asl

Some really good work, and a very interesting read trying to recollect my memories and matching them to the dates you quoted.

As others have quoted the findings are only meant to show conditions for the country as a whole, some winters in the south like last year were fairly snowy however here in Cumbria, 2000/2001 was snowier and 2005/2006 with early March 2006 being much snowier than anything that last year produced. However, if there as a comparative listing for cold weather based on average mean then last year certainly would have beaten anything since 1995/96 in terms of cold spells.. (although we have not bettered dec 96 and first 10 days of jan 97 for consistent cold since jan/feb 91 or possibly even jan/feb 86.. Oh dear all this talk of winter shows how dull our summer weather is at present, wish we were talking hot dry spells instead!

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