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Feb. 1891, the exceptionally mild month that never was.


LetItSnow!

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

While randomly browsing through reanalysis charts (as I do from time to time), I stumbled upon this extraordinary month. I actually knew a little bit about it before. It’s the driest February on record I believe, with something silly like 4mm of rainfall on average across England & Wales. In terms of temperature, it’s thoroughly unremarkable with a CET of 3.9, very slightly below the all time mean, but a look at the charts would have you think otherwise...

 

Very mild opener to the month, here on Feb. 2, with blowtorch southwesterly winds. Bone dry across England & Wales obviously, but probably a soaker across the far north of Scotland with a conveyer belt of cloud & rain. Very balmy.   

538B599D-72BB-4F17-9014-C6891C72D8BA.thumb.png.18afe047bff510b5ab1bf5f93ba193bb.png

The high pressure retains dominance as it will throughout the entire month. Nowadays this would bring very mild days and cold nights but I think smog would have suppressed temperatures, especially where skies cleared.

4EC52504-FB7A-4AF9-8CCB-D21D86956612.thumb.png.39692b3648c9e4c92e340caeb5c7dc7b.png

A very close but no cigar attempt at a northerly push bringing somewhat cool air and some showers but still mostly dry. Now the high pressure is really going to get going after this.

7C3DF5E7-76A8-49A6-B49E-BAC050663D72.thumb.png.2c590afa1005d9a6c4bf9b5b07ced1c5.png

HP now building to our southeast, drawing up very mild air from the continent. This becomes an unmovable force during the second half of Feb. 1891. The interesting thing is from here on the daily CET values are pretty cool to cold, even a subzero day here & there. This must surely be down to poor air quality. 

59DF5B1A-C979-49FB-AF19-3F56A294AC98.thumb.png.a7013c5ff1001935d02559024dba6747.png

It all starts getting very Feb. 2019 like with a very strong block drawing very mild air. If this were to occur nowadays this would probably bring 15-20C maxima, though still chilly by night.

6C309CAE-9DA4-4F8F-8BEE-A5805A184E31.thumb.png.4698bdd92ed0eb88646a2be0aaff0a11.png

That persists for a few days, then a brief breakdown in pressure, then some (at least nowadays) blowtorch southerlies. Again, I do wonder if this were to occur nowadays whether 20-22C would be breached with repeated bursts of exceptionally mild southerly winds under HP. Daily means around this time generally hovered within a few degrees of freezing , impossible nowadays with this setup.

42D6B756-713D-424E-A8B2-C1F14D4F288C.thumb.png.bef3de8877a200f97047a832ad3ec492.png

Only at the very end of the month do we see a relaxation in pressure, and a more typical westerly wind starts to blow in, though a very mild one at that.

34C91CD2-A24A-449E-B5CA-D80311A92FD7.thumb.png.c810395aacc3c04ed6496d6ef96c2aaa.png

 

So there’s the exceptional Feb. 1891. I conducted a very rough estimate of what such a month would return nowadays in the CET and came up with 7.5-7.7, give or take. Victorian era Britain was generally very polluted and smoggy so I presume this suppressed temperatures, though there could be other reasons. Let me know what you think! Maybe I’m completely wrong. Interesting charts nonetheless. Needless to say, if right, this setup would put Feb. 2019 to shame

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Posted
  • Location: Efford, Plymouth
  • Weather Preferences: Misty Autumn Mornings, Thunderstorms and snow
  • Location: Efford, Plymouth

Ah, but look what happened in the March of 1891?

The snow events of 9th to 13th March 1891 will never be matched here again. I'll dig around the web but I've seen some photos of Plymouth after the Great Blizzard and it's unrecognisable (even allowing for the post WW2 rebuild). 

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Posted
  • Location: Efford, Plymouth
  • Weather Preferences: Misty Autumn Mornings, Thunderstorms and snow
  • Location: Efford, Plymouth

"March came in like a Lion," The Great Blizzard of 1891

If you had read the Meteorological Office's summary of observations for February 1891, you could hardly be blamed for assuming that spring would be sunny and delightful.  The weather in February had been exceptionally dry, although there was a more than usual amount of fog, particularly towards the latter part of the month. There was surprisingly little rain;  according to the Met, less than one-tenth of an inch over the whole of England. There was, however, enough bright sunshine to suggest that fine weather was on its way.

The amount of bright sunshine was upon the whole very large, especially over England where the per-centage of the possible quantity was in some places nearly twice as much as the average.

March, however, was to prove a different matter.  The first few days of the month were chilly, with none of the badly needed rain which farmers must have hoped would follow such a temperate February. During the first week of the new month, the weather turned colder but, on the whole, remained fair.  In fact, the forecast for Southwest England and Wales, for 9 March, issued at 8:30 the previous evening, called for "North-easterly winds, moderate; fair generally." 

Plymouth, Devonport and Stonehouse saw sporadic snowfall in the late morning of Monday the 9th along with a rising wind.  By six in the evening,

in the three towns some four or five inches of snow lay upon the ground, and the wind had increased to a hurricane. Slates began to start from the roofs of houses, and chimneys to fall, and in a very short time the streets assumed a deserted appearance, and all vehicular traffic was stopped. Advertisement hoardings were hurled from their positions with some terrible crashes.

 

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Posted
  • Location: Evesham/ Tewkesbury
  • Weather Preferences: Enjoy the weather, you can't take it with you 😎
  • Location: Evesham/ Tewkesbury
28 minutes ago, philglossop said:

Ah, but look what happened in the March of 1891?

The snow events of 9th to 13th March 1891 will never be matched here again. I'll dig around the web but I've seen some photos of Plymouth after the Great Blizzard and it's unrecognisable (even allowing for the post WW2 rebuild). 

In fairness I'm sure there was exceptional events way before that in non recorded history ., and at some point in the future it will happen again not if but when. I've learned something very valuable when it comes to weather never say never you always end up having egg on your face........!.

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Posted
  • Location: Efford, Plymouth
  • Weather Preferences: Misty Autumn Mornings, Thunderstorms and snow
  • Location: Efford, Plymouth
22 minutes ago, ANYWEATHER said:

In fairness I'm sure there was exceptional events way before that in non recorded history ., and at some point in the future it will happen again not if but when. I've learned something very valuable when it comes to weather never say never you always end up having egg on your face........!.

Perhaps- but  trust me, we didn't get more than a smattering in December 2010- let alone this winter. 

I found this- and it's a terrifying read- people not being able to walk from Devonport to Pennycomequick because of snow and hurricane force winds. Look up Stuart Road on google maps today to see how how unique that was. 

 I

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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)
On 12/03/2021 at 12:01, LetItSnow! said:

While randomly browsing through reanalysis charts (as I do from time to time), I stumbled upon this extraordinary month. I actually knew a little bit about it before. It’s the driest February on record I believe, with something silly like 4mm of rainfall on average across England & Wales. In terms of temperature, it’s thoroughly unremarkable with a CET of 3.9, very slightly below the all time mean, but a look at the charts would have you think otherwise...

 

Very mild opener to the month, here on Feb. 2, with blowtorch southwesterly winds. Bone dry across England & Wales obviously, but probably a soaker across the far north of Scotland with a conveyer belt of cloud & rain. Very balmy.   

538B599D-72BB-4F17-9014-C6891C72D8BA.thumb.png.18afe047bff510b5ab1bf5f93ba193bb.png

The high pressure retains dominance as it will throughout the entire month. Nowadays this would bring very mild days and cold nights but I think smog would have suppressed temperatures, especially where skies cleared.

4EC52504-FB7A-4AF9-8CCB-D21D86956612.thumb.png.39692b3648c9e4c92e340caeb5c7dc7b.png

A very close but no cigar attempt at a northerly push bringing somewhat cool air and some showers but still mostly dry. Now the high pressure is really going to get going after this.

7C3DF5E7-76A8-49A6-B49E-BAC050663D72.thumb.png.2c590afa1005d9a6c4bf9b5b07ced1c5.png

HP now building to our southeast, drawing up very mild air from the continent. This becomes an unmovable force during the second half of Feb. 1891. The interesting thing is from here on the daily CET values are pretty cool to cold, even a subzero day here & there. This must surely be down to poor air quality. 

59DF5B1A-C979-49FB-AF19-3F56A294AC98.thumb.png.a7013c5ff1001935d02559024dba6747.png

It all starts getting very Feb. 2019 like with a very strong block drawing very mild air. If this were to occur nowadays this would probably bring 15-20C maxima, though still chilly by night.

6C309CAE-9DA4-4F8F-8BEE-A5805A184E31.thumb.png.4698bdd92ed0eb88646a2be0aaff0a11.png

That persists for a few days, then a brief breakdown in pressure, then some (at least nowadays) blowtorch southerlies. Again, I do wonder if this were to occur nowadays whether 20-22C would be breached with repeated bursts of exceptionally mild southerly winds under HP. Daily means around this time generally hovered within a few degrees of freezing , impossible nowadays with this setup.

42D6B756-713D-424E-A8B2-C1F14D4F288C.thumb.png.bef3de8877a200f97047a832ad3ec492.png

Only at the very end of the month do we see a relaxation in pressure, and a more typical westerly wind starts to blow in, though a very mild one at that.

34C91CD2-A24A-449E-B5CA-D80311A92FD7.thumb.png.c810395aacc3c04ed6496d6ef96c2aaa.png

 

So there’s the exceptional Feb. 1891. I conducted a very rough estimate of what such a month would return nowadays in the CET and came up with 7.5-7.7, give or take. Victorian era Britain was generally very polluted and smoggy so I presume this suppressed temperatures, though there could be other reasons. Let me know what you think! Maybe I’m completely wrong. Interesting charts nonetheless. Needless to say, if right, this setup would put Feb. 2019 to shame

my guess is looking at the previous month Jan 1891 which was cold..i assume the continent would have been cold also..therefore a lot of cold inversion with a high sat over the near continent (which may have had snow cover) and the UK ..therefore and winds of the continent would have been fairly cold..also if it was a clear sky high then it would be cold at night...looks similar to first three weeks of Dec 1991 in that respect..so maybe 4-5c in todays climate maybe close to the mark IMO

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Posted
  • Location: Bratislava, Slovakia
  • Location: Bratislava, Slovakia
2 hours ago, cheeky_monkey said:

my guess is looking at the previous month Jan 1891 which was cold..i assume the continent would have been cold also..therefore a lot of cold inversion with a high sat over the near continent (which may have had snow cover) and the UK ..therefore and winds of the continent would have been fairly cold..also if it was a clear sky high then it would be cold at night...looks similar to first three weeks of Dec 1991 in that respect..so maybe 4-5c in todays climate maybe close to the mark IMO

I think you're right. 1890/91 is actually the coldest winter on record at Slovakia's longest-running station (Hurbanovo, dating back to 1872). No single month was record-breaking but all three were very cold.

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

February 1891 looks like it was, in many ways, a cooler version of February 2019, partly because of the lower global temperatures then and partly because there was a stronger emphasis on continental air and stable high pressure over the south.  This would have brought cold nights with frost and fog especially to southern areas, and as LetitSnow mentioned this would have been exacerbated by smog in urban areas.  Overall, though, most places had a very sunny month with warm days and cold nights.  

The near-average CET was arrived at via warm days (mean max 8.2C) and cold nights (mean min -0.3C) and it may well have been a bit colder than average in the south-east.  However, it was a very mild month in the north where there was a stronger Atlantic influence on the northern and western flank of the high.  At Durham the mean max was 9.3C, but again there was a contrast between warm days and chilly nights and a mean minimum of 0.0C there, which meant that Durham's mean temperature was mild but not remarkably so.

There was indeed a spell of exceptionally high daytime maxima near the end of February 1891 from very February 2019-esque synoptics, peaking at 19.4C at Cambridge on the 27th.  A high of 18.1C was also recorded in the Irish Republic near Casement Aerodrome during this spell.  However, the CET values for the period were only between 4 and 6C, indicating that there were probably cold nights and suppressed maxima in parts of the CET zone due to fog.

Edited by Thundery wintry showers
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Posted
  • Location: Islington, C. London.
  • Weather Preferences: Cold, snowy winters and mixed summers.
  • Location: Islington, C. London.

 

49 minutes ago, Thundery wintry showers said:

February 1891 looks like it was, in many ways, a cooler version of February 2019, partly because of the lower global temperatures then and partly because there was a stronger emphasis on continental air and stable high pressure over the south.  This would have brought cold nights with frost and fog especially to southern areas, and as LetitSnow mentioned this would have been exacerbated by smog in urban areas.  Overall, though, most places had a very sunny month with warm days and cold nights.  

The near-average CET was arrived at via warm days (mean max 8.2C) and cold nights (mean min -0.3C) and it may well have been a bit colder than average in the south-east.  However, it was a very mild month in the north where there was a stronger Atlantic influence on the northern and western flank of the high.  At Durham the mean max was 9.3C, but again there was a contrast between warm days and chilly nights and a mean minimum of 0.0C there, which meant that Durham's mean temperature was mild but not remarkably so.

There was indeed a spell of exceptionally high daytime maxima near the end of February 1891 from very February 2019-esque synoptics, peaking at 19.4C at Cambridge on the 27th.  A high of 18.1C was also recorded in the Irish Republic near Casement Aerodrome during this spell.  However, the CET values for the period were only between 4 and 6C, indicating that there were probably cold nights and suppressed maxima in parts of the CET zone due to fog.

Thanks! Perhaps I overestimated the effect of smog, though I still think the same pattern would achieve a much milder than average month these days. While only a thought, I do sometimes wonder whether the C.E.T. figures for autumn/winter months pre-1950 are skewed by frost & fog suppressing temperatures in weather patterns that wouldn’t necessarily do so now due to cleaner air and other factors. Indeed for me, fog seems to be quite the rare event now. Only Jan. & Dec. 2020 spring to mind of notably foggy spells in recent times. Anyway, my point is that perhaps that can account for at least some of the rise in temperature during winter/autumn months in the C.E.T. series. I remember looking at the charts for Oct. 1879, which was very blocked under what looked like a very warm ridge during the first half of the month (indeed like Oct. 1985 but without the exceptional southerly) yet brought about a CET in the 8s (though the second half did bring northerlies). I’m not a scientist & am not opening discussion for AGW debates, but I do wonder if it has an effect. If smog was as common then I wonder months like Jan. 2017, 2019 & 2021 been a fair bit colder. Just food for thought! What does everyone else think?

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

It's an interesting question, though I think smogs would also help to keep the night-time minima relatively high during cold clear spells, by reducing the extent to which temperatures fall away under good radiation conditions with clear skies and light winds.  Generally it serves to suppress the diurnal range (giving cooler days but warmer nights), but as noted earlier February 1891 had unusually high diurnal ranges over much of the UK.

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

I do think for 1891’s case it was a mixture of all the above. I suppose the point of the post was to highlight the unusual synoptics rather than the actual weather in a sense, which is perhaps atypical for a historic weather post I do think there is something other than AGW to do with the upward rise in temperature in our winters, but whatever it is I am unsure. Perhaps it is just a warmer environment means a stronger sun which gives higher maxima in the daytimes under a blob of high pressure which more easily burns mist and fog, which in turn is less likely to form in cleaner air, which gives higher means due to milder days but still very cold nights. All subject to question but very interesting nonetheless. It would be interesting if I could find a series of sunshine averages going back to pre-1900 to see how that theory works or fails. 

37 minutes ago, Thundery wintry showers said:

It's an interesting question, though I think smogs would also help to keep the night-time minima relatively high during cold clear spells, by reducing the extent to which temperatures fall away under good radiation conditions with clear skies and light winds.  Generally it serves to suppress the diurnal range (giving cooler days but warmer nights), but as noted earlier February 1891 had unusually high diurnal ranges over much of the UK.

 

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Posted
  • Location: Broxbourne, Herts
  • Weather Preferences: Snow snow and snow
  • Location: Broxbourne, Herts

Everything will change when we get one, or maybe even more really significant volcanos erupting!!!

Hope we find this volcano before it goes off again...!

p0579798.jpg
WWW.BBC.COM

It was the biggest eruption for 700 years but scientists still can't find the volcano responsible.

 

 

 

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Posted
  • Location: Bratislava, Slovakia
  • Location: Bratislava, Slovakia
On 17/03/2021 at 14:19, Thundery wintry showers said:

February 1891 looks like it was, in many ways, a cooler version of February 2019,

I'd say February 2008 was quite similar too. 

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