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Winter 1954-55


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  • Location: Irlam
  • Location: Irlam

December 1954 was a very mild month and was a fairly zonal month, cold spells were very short lived, maxima were often in double figures




January 1955 was a generally cold month with severe frosts and some heavy snowfalls, any mild spells were fairly short lived up to the 20th

The month began with high pressure across Scandinavia and an increasingly cold easterly flow across the UK. The first serious snowfall came on the 3rd and 4th as a depression moved into the English Channel bringing heavy snow to many parts of England and Wales, about 10 to 20cm fell in a number of places and there was drifting in the easterly wind.



There was a short mild interlude in the south before the next heavy snowfall came on the 14th, when another low moved into the English Channel and engaged the colder air moving down from the north bringing heavy snowfalls again to the south, 10-30cm fell in a number of places.


On the 16th, yet another depression moved across the Midlands, this time producing a heavy snowfall and blizzard conditions to northern England and parts of Scotland. Conditions were particularly bad in the northwest of England, where there was severe drifting of the snow and in northern Scotland where depths of snow was approaching 60cm and drifts nearing 9m. With many roads and rail links blocked in the north of Scotland and the Northern Isles, supplies had to be air-dropped in an operation codenamed "Snowdrop".


The weather became milder duirng the latter stages of January and this continued into the first part of February.


The second half of February 1955 was very cold and wintry. There were heavy snowfalls across northern England and East Anglia on the 19th from a frontal system associated with a low pressure to the south of the UK. The snow drifted in the easterly flow and depths of level snow approached 30cm causing the usual transport chaos.


As the low moved away to the east, it was replaced by a new low near the Brest Peninsula which produced an even stronger easterly flow across England and Wales. Conditions were severe in Cornwall and Devon, which was worst hit by blizzards and drifting snow. Many roads were blocked in this region. Further north, Scotland was under slack pressure gradients and with the deep snow cover this allowed the mercury to drop to as low as -25C at night as it did at Braemar on the 23rd

Data for winter 1954-55

December: 6.8 (+2.3)

January: 2.6 (-1.3)

February: 1.2 (-3.0)

Second half of February: -1.3

Coldest spells

12th-20th January: -0.9

12th-28th February: -1.1


Mildest CET maximum: 14.2 2nd December

Coldest CET maximum: -0.3 13th January

Coldest CET minimum: -7.5 20th February

Some data from London Heathrow for that winter

December 1954
Mean Max: 9.8C
Mean Min: 3.5C
Highest Max: 14.1C (2nd, 3rd)
Lowest Min: -5.6C (11th)
Air frosts: 5
Falling snow/sleet days: 2

January 1955
Mean Max: 5.6C
Mean Min: 0.3C
Highest Max: 11.9C (11th, 31st)
Lowest Min: -7.2C (14th, 15th)
Air frosts: 12
Falling sleet/snow days: 9

February 1955
Mean Max: 5.0C
Mean Min: -0.5C
Highest Max: 11.9C (7th)
Lowest Min: -8.9C (20th)
Air frosts: 17
Falling sleet/snow days: 13


5th: 6 to 12ft drifts in Cornwall and Devon. Up to 6 inches in west London.

13th: Orkney paralysed by snow, 7ft drifts.

14th: widespread snow cover, 9-12 inches for some parts of Somerset, 12 inches for northern Scotland.

16th: 3.5 inches of snow fell in an hour at Southport. 24 inches for Sutherland.

17th: whole of Caithness and Sutherland 12 inches+, 6 inches+ for parts of Northumberland, Durham, North and West Yorkshire, south Lancashire and north Wales.

18th: 20 inches at Glenrossal



14th: 1-2 inches of snow for East Midlands, 6 inches for parts of Lincolnshire.

17th: Up to 6 inches of snow for parts of NE England and Midlands.

18th/19th: 5ft drifts at Blackpool.

20th: 26 inches of snow at Elphin, 18 inches at Glenrossal, 24 inches at Glenmore, 22 inches at Braemar.

23rd: Severe blizzard over Cornwall, 7ft drifts on Bodmin Moor, 7 to 9 inches of snow extensively over Cumbria and Northumberland, 6-8 inches for Notts, Durham, Derbyshire (10ft drifts at Ashbourne). 18 inches at Bwlch Tunnel and 16 inches at Mt. Pleasant in Flintshire.

Drummuir recorded 36 inches and Buxton 20 inches for the period 25th-28th.


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  • Location: Cheshire
  • Location: Cheshire

This from Wiki about the making of the famous BTF film, "Snowdrift in Bleath Gill", resulting from heavy snowfall in the Northern Pennines on 24th Feb 1955:

 No. 78018, hauling the 4:20 am goods train, set out from Kirkby Stephen on the morning of Thursday, 24 February 1955, hauling eight 20-ton wagons of limestone and minerals.[2] At 5 am, she became stuck at Bleath Gill, just north of Barras railway station and near Stainmore Summit which at 1,370 feet (420 m) high was the highest point on any railway line in England until its closure in 1962.[3] The train, along with its crew remained stranded there until 3 pm the following Monday, when the first rescue teams arrived.

On the rescue train were a crew of BTF staff—director Kennith Fairbairn, cameraman Robert Paynter and assistant David Watkin—who had been hurriedly assigned by producer Edgar Anstey to travel to Barnard Castle to join the snowplough and a gang of fifty men travelling up the line to free the train.[3]......

Well worth watching on YouTube. I cannot imagine what it must have been like for the train crew stuck in the snow for four days. I suspect though they may have made it on foot to Barras railway station where the stationmaster's house would have been occupied.



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

Although it was long before I was born, I've been interested in this winter for a while.  When browsing the chart archives I noticed some very impressive northerlies around the middle of both January and February, and then a classic "south west snowstorm" setup in late February.  Good to see the contemporary newspaper articles.  It sticks out for me as a winter that was somewhat more remarkable for snowiness than for intensity and persistence of cold.

Edited by Thundery wintry showers
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  • Location: Ski Amade / Pongau Region. Somtimes Skipton UK
  • Weather Preferences: Northeasterly Blizzard and sub zero temperatures.
  • Location: Ski Amade / Pongau Region. Somtimes Skipton UK

Picture of old coach stuck in snow drifts near Bacup, Lancashire hills, Feb 55. 

I was a very young boy down on the farm in Cheshire at that time and my youngest brother was born end of Feb 1955. I remember the Mid -wife walking to the farm through deep snow drifts to deliver little brother. Some of the snow drifts reached the bedroom windows. Thanks for posting those daily weather reports. Almost a forgotten snow event that one.


OLDSNOWA coach is stuck in the snow in Bacup in February 1955.jpg

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  • 1 year later...
  • Location: Ossett, West Yorkshire
  • Location: Ossett, West Yorkshire

February 1955 sticks out to me as being very similar synoptically to February 1969, and in the type of weather that it delivered.  In both Februarys 1955 and 1969 the cold spells were maintained by Greenland Highs and the cold was mostly from northerlies with low pressures at times approaching the UK from the south at times in both months.  Prior to the cold February 1955, the cold spell in early to mid January 1955 was brought about by a similar setup especially in mid Jan 1955, but we did get a cold spell from the east with a Scandy High in the early part of Jan 1955.  Although Jan 1969 was not up to much in terms of cold, late December 1968 (around Christmas to New Year) saw a cold spell from very similar synoptics to mid January 1955.

Following on from 1955, we did have a very cold February again in the following year (1956), although the cold that month came mainly from the east and Scandinavian blocking as opposed to Greenland blocking and the cold from the north.

Edited by North-Easterly Blast
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