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January, 1981 — a Month of Many Near-Misses


LetItSnow!

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

i felt compelled to start a thread on this frustrating month after looking through the synoptic pressure charts for this month. perhaps this is also a lesson in why any azores/euro heights can wreak havoc in this forum!

i felt compelled to check the charts for this month after reading about severe cold across europe. indeed, there was a severe blizzard across greece from the 7th that caused the loss of life. this is my first own historic thread, so apologies if not very good!

overall, Jan. 1981 on the surface looks quite an uninteresting month. it has an average temperature of 4.9°C & an average precipitation figure of 57.8mm; overall, rather mild & quite dry... but through close analysis, i realise this could potentially have been a good month for cold & snow. let me take you through it!

 

new year’s day; a bland start to the month, with a large azores high but already some deep cold entrenched into scandinavia. C1168600-5A1C-413A-A740-6CDB501D85F1.thumb.png.cd8e38f2b111f9ddd09e5cc5c670b0ac.png

by the 4th, the cold trough to our east manages to turn the winds into the north. we do have some greenland heights, but overall it’s looking rather flimsy, and at this point, not much more than wintry showers  

A153A458-4623-4835-BD09-DAEE79F84082.thumb.png.e4a9673cb1decfcad71a121fe8c7ac14.png

indeed, the large azores-atalantic ridge collapses over the country & turns it milder, with the cold air stuck to our east.  fail #1!

993E14DE-6CF0-41CC-A5DD-51FB0325E4ED.thumb.png.6f2d03b9be46d3aa4adc4fd62da6935d.png

another sneaky attempt to ridge up to greenland on the 9th. another area of low pressure forces very cold air into scandinavia, but the misplaced azores high is once again too strong & flattens over the country, albeit under cold air with frost.

 

D4E9F5B9-21B2-49B2-9481-05D0831F8074.thumb.png.0a2bfce40900b989ec3b27ba5ee2e994.png

the 12th sees another area of low pressure dive-bomb into scandinavia, with another cold shot. high pressure woefully tries to ridge up to greenland, but is shunted south, and the high sinks yet again, though at least bringing some frost as it does so  

59D5C1F2-11D7-4F50-A5A6-C54F58828D96.thumb.png.ae6505c5ab0693058eea4483b3e4ca48.png

another reload! i find the first half of Jan. 1981 interesting for the sheer amount of cold plunges into scandinavia. by the 15th, another deep cold pool is shunted down, this time we’re ever so close to being in the firing line, yet apart from across the far north it ends up a halfhearted northerly, if not slight northwesterly.

FC860AD3-6591-415C-ABB7-0526BB7599C5.thumb.png.32221d22dd52f2ed0201dee2d35cd335.png

then, the high pressure becomes a dominant feature in the second-half of the month, with the azores high stronger than ever  

3D92490E-240C-41DB-8640-BFC305A8211B.thumb.png.380695f1fbf0421c03d6413dd1294692.png

by months end, we get some very interesting charts start to appear. this chart reminds me of the warm spell of Feb. 2019. does anyone remember if there were unusually mild temperatures at the end of Jan. 1981? i suspect frost & fog would have meant this would be quite cold still. couldn’t even do mild right! would have been a very hot spell if it occurred in high summer  

8A1014DA-A991-49E0-8BA6-6F4B3BA118A8.thumb.png.37b6d551b022450c0a8f3c814595873a.png

we end Jan. 1981 on a very summary looking chart, but probably cool with frosty nights and perhaps fog, more likely in the south.

CC5F0FD2-EF0F-4D85-B761-F031A72DC333.thumb.png.c562b99628deab678a3569d94c745318.png

 

Feb. 1981 would turn out to be a colder month, with a C.E.T. of 3.0

 

i can imagine a meltdown or two in the model forum if that pattered occurred this winter!

 

what’s your memories of Jan. 1981? share them below! thank you for  reading.

 

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Posted
  • Location: Penrith Cumbria
  • Weather Preferences: Cold, snowy winters and warm sunny summers
  • Location: Penrith Cumbria

I lived in South Birmingham at the time and remember this month although I hadnt looked closely at the synoptics so weren't aware of the repeated northerly plunges to our east.

I do remember the repeated chopping and chaning of the weather in the first half with sunny cold days being followed by mild cloudy ones, however, the transition often brought warm front snowfalls and I recorded 4 days with lying snow from these events.

The mild spell at the end was nothing remarkable, it wouldn't even get a mention these days with maximum temperatures of 12c to 13c.

The mild weather continued into early February but by mid Month a cold easterly was established, nothing severe, similar to Feb 2005 but on the 21st a depression became slow moving in the Irish Sea and the West Midlands was hit by a severe blizzard, 30cms of snow fell in Birmingham an amazing event given the modest synoptics. It occured on a Saturday night and I remember going to the cinema to see The Shining, as we entered the cinema the evening was dry but we emerged into a winter wonderland and a City grinding to a halt.

I lived on the higher outskirts of the City and the bus home couldn't make it all the way so I had to walk the final mile, having just watched The Shining walking through dark, quiet streets knee deep with drifting snow I half expected Jack Nicholson to jump out of a bush with an axe! anyone who has seen the film will remember the Maze scene at the end.  

Andy

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Posted
  • Location: Cheshire
  • Location: Cheshire

Penrith Snow - Philip Eden refers to 'heavy drifting snow affecting Wales and the West Midlands on 22nd and 23 Feb, with 35cm accumulated at Hednesford, Staffs' (Great Weather Disasters). As 22nd was a Sunday, it must indeed have been the 21st when you had your problems getting home from the cinema.

I recall little about the early part of 1981, and certainly considerably less than I do about the January which followed in 1982 and which was a complete nightmare for many commuters (snow, ice, strikes....) like myself.

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Posted
  • Location: halifax 125m
  • Weather Preferences: extremes the unusual and interesting facts
  • Location: halifax 125m

We always get snow here in the Pennines but 1981 was nothing to get excited about.My memories of that winter was of little snow but made up for it in the last week of April which blessed us with a blizzard dumping snow here to rival any of the biggest snow winters.It is a freak in weather history i have yet to hear of anything to rival it!

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Posted
  • Location: Whitefield, Manchester @ 100m
  • Location: Whitefield, Manchester @ 100m

The big Manchester fall of January 2010 was described as "the biggest fall since 1981". Was this the 21 Feb event that hit Birmingham?

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Posted
  • Location: Bratislava, Slovakia
  • Location: Bratislava, Slovakia
1 hour ago, Alexis said:

The big Manchester fall of January 2010 was described as "the biggest fall since 1981". Was this the 21 Feb event that hit Birmingham?

That source was probably referring to December 1981.

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