1600CE-1849: Weather History (more UK than Ireland)

From The Booty Website, compiled by MG Rowley (please note this is an evolving history and so the tables below will likely be more up to date on MG Rowley’s website) – published with kind permission –

This site attempts to collect together in one place the most notable events in our ‘weather history’ across the British Isles. It has been built up in a rather ‘ad-hoc’ fashion, initially just for the latter third of the 20th century, then worked backwards as and when I stumbled across data etc., and of course kept up to date as far as possible. I am aware that these data are heavily biased towards ‘UK’ events: I would like to add more for Ireland, so if you spot any significant missing events, please advise me.

I have tried to capture the “notable events”, but I am always open to suggestions! Inevitably, there is some element of subjectivity over what constitutes a ‘significant’ event. Also, the further back in time we go, the scrappier the information & the greater the probability of missing something.

Much of the information contained in these records must of necessity be ‘tentative’ to say the least! Up to about 1000 years ago, we only have archaelogical evidence to reconstruct the record: some Roman chroniclers provide cursory evidence for the Romano-Celtic / British era, but it is not until roughly from AD 800 that documentary records make a major contribution – and of course, the era of instrumental record doesn’t really start until the 17th century, and even then, inconsistencies / errors in the instrumentation make the early record questionable. Prior to the age of scientific enquiry, the climatological data have been reconstructed using ‘proxy’ data, such as tree ring records (dendroclimatology), ice-core sampling, estate records, tales of war and the administration of great kings, monastic lists etc.

Temperature(T) = H/C (warm/cold events); Rainfall (R) = D/W (dry/wet events); Stormy events = S

Date T R S Description Ref:




1600 – 1649
April 1600 C

24th: a deep snowfall (no details as to location). 6
1601

S Storm in London on 1st February. 8
1602
D
Drought in autumn & winter (London/South). 8
1603




January 1607
[1606 in reckoning of the time.]


S Flood: 2,000 died around the Severn Estuary, Tuesday, 20 January 1606 (OS)/30th January 1607 (NS). Lowlands on both sides of the Estuary suffered inundation, with the Somerset & Gwent levels suffering devastating effects. It is thought that a Severe gale from the west or southwest was responsible, coupled to an astronomically high tide: the excess over prediction was some 2.3m. As well as the cost in human life, much damage / loss of housing etc., and also cattle, sheep & horses perished. There would have been a great deal of salt-contamination of arable fields too. Bristol & Barnstaple were badly affected.
It is worth noting that great damage due to flooding was also recorded from East Anglian towns and villages, particularly across the Fens. (‘Weather’/Oct 2006/Horsburgh & Horritt)
[ There is some debate whether this event was a ‘standard’ wind-driven storm-surge, or a Tsunami-like occurrence. Contemporary accounts mention ‘high tides’ & ‘strong west winds’, so I would plump for the more likely storm-surge cause.] [confusion with dates: although listed in original documents as January 1606, the ‘year’ 1606 would have run from March 1606 to March 1607 (in our reckoning).]
TORRO,
R. Met.S
1607 H D
Dry/hot summer (London/South). 8
1607/08
(Winter)
C

The ‘Great Winter‘**: apparently, trees died due to the severity (and length) of the frost; ships were stranded by ice several miles out into the North Sea – this latter a major concern as much commerce was done in these days via coastal shipping. In December, a “deep” frost until mid-month, then a thaw until just before Christmas, then from ~21st December(OSP) intense freeze for much of the time until at least mid-January. Ice formed on the Thames in London, sufficient to bear all sorts of sports, perambulations and even cooking! The frost lasted overall for some two months. (much of the foregoing from Ian Currie). The severe weather lasted in parts of England until about 20th February(OSP), though with variations in depth of cold. For example, in records from Kendal (Westmorland / Cumbria) ‘hard frost’ is noted from November 3rd, 1607 to March 6th, 1608(OSP).
The Firth of Forth is noted as being ‘frozen’ during January 1608 & the River Exe (south of Exeter) also experienced major ice formation by the latter-third of January – at this latter location, damage was caused to a local weir.
(** lots of winters will be found in the literature known as “The Great Winter”: treat this title with some caution, however, in a series developed by C.Easton, in CHMW / Lamb, this ranks near the top of the most severe winters of the last 1000 yr.
1, 6, 8, usw
1609/10
(Winter)
C

Great frost commenced in October & lasted four months. Thames frozen and heavy carriages driven over it. (Possible confusion with 1607/08). 8,
LWH
1610 H D
Hot, dry summer (London/South). 8
1612
(winter / spring)

D
Drought from January to May (London/South). The extended period of dry weather was apparently widespread over England at least, with that affecting the Lake District noted as not breaking until early August. 8
1615
(May)
C

1st (C? / OSP & probably ‘May Day’ – it might not have attracted notice otherwise!) A late snowfall; Snow to 1 foot (~30cm) depth reported from Derbyshire.
[ The problem here is that there are parts of Derbyshire today that would get a useful snowfall on May 1st – particularly in the Peak District villages, so it is difficult to know how significant this report is. ]
LWH
1616 H D
Hot summer with drought (London/South). 8
1616
(September)

W
River Aire flooded houses in Leeds (Yorkshire) after 38 hours of rain. x
1620/21
(Winter)
C

Frost fair held on the Thames. A severe winter over western Europe / implied much of Britain. (Easton, in CHMW/Lamb) 1, 8
1622
(August)

W S August 18th(C?) – An “extreme & vehement” storm struck the Tamar Valley. (Devon Co. C web site)
[ No other details, i.e. thunderstorm, wind-storm etc., so it is difficult to decide the character of this: it may be akin to the Boscastle storm of 2004 August q.v., given the topography of the areas which drain into the Tamar valley. ]
x
1625
(October)

W
October 13th(?C / OSP) – At Tiverton, 53 houses were thrown down and destroyed by a great flood of water.(Devon Co.C website)
[ Again, no great detail, but given the month, it suggests an exceptional rain-storm following a prolonged period of autumnal rains soaking the ground. ]
x
1626 H D
Dry, hot summer (London/South). 8
1630-1637
(or 1638) (Summers)
H D
Series of dry / warm summers, particularly 1636, 1637 & (perhaps) 1638. (LW); For 1636, in the London/SE area, it is noted as a ‘very hot & dry summer, not a drop of rain from March to August. 8
1635 C

Severe winter; Thames frozen. 8
Mar-Sep 1636
D
Extended dry / drought period began 1st March 1636: by September, serious drought effects. Noted as completely rain-less in ‘London Weather’ from March to August. 6, 8
1636-1638 H D
Three successive fine summers (possibly): see also entry Mar-Sep 1636 above. 8
October 1638

S Tornadoes in Devon & Somerset: Sunday October 21st(OS) / October 31st(NS): at Widecombe-in-the-Moor (Devon) on the south-eastern flank of Dartmoor. A tornado struck a church with the ‘utmost violence’ as a service had just begun. A ball of fire moved through the church with a thunderous explosion. The roof and tower were wrecked, stone and masonry showered down both inside and outside the building. The tornado / ball lightning killed and maimed scores of men and women – and a dog. People were snatched from the pews and whirled about. About 60 people were either killed or injured. All this took place within a few seconds. 6,
LWH
1643 H

Hot summer (London/South). 8
January 1644 C

31st: 8-day snowfall 31st January to 7th February. 6
1645 H D
Hot / dry summer (London/South). 8
1645-1710


The Maunder Minimum“: Period of notably reduced solar activity. Possibly contributing to (or adding to), the downturn in temperatures during this period (though note, there were also some very warm summers, e.g. 1645!) x
1646
(May)
H
S 31st May, 1646 (new-style converted): Notable outbreak of tornadoes in eastern England. Specifically Thetford / Newmarket, (Cambridgeshire, Suffolk, Norfolk); Brandon Parva (Norfolk) and Swaffham Prior (Cambridgeshire). At least three different tornadoes involved. It was a notably hot day (“violent hot day”), with severe thunderstorms, heavy rain & large hail. The hail is noted as being of “extraordinary size”, and “some hollow within like rings”. (JMet/TORRO)
1648 C W
Very wet, but probably not as wet as 1258 & 1527. The summer in particular was described as worse than several of the past winters (i.e. ‘cold & wet’). 8
1648/49
(Winter)
C

Great frost; Thames frozen. 8




1650-1699
1651-1654 H D
Four successive fine (i.e. often dry / hot) summers. (London / South?) 8
1655/1656
(Winter)
C

A cold winter in western Europe / implied for parts of Britain. (Easton, in CHMW/Lamb).
December 10th (C?) – Scotland – blizzard – snow – wind & sea-flood, Fife. Houses fell, ships lost.
1,
LWH
1657
(Summer)
H

Some notably HOT & HUMID weather over England – noted as beginning from last third of June (C?), but no other details. LWH
December 1657 to March 1658 C

11th December 1657: Beginning of one of the longest periods of snow lying in England, lasting (reputedly) until 21st March 1658.
A notably severe winter over western Europe & much of Britain (Easton in CHMW/Lamb). [ see also entry below re: June.]
1, 6, 8
1658
(June)
C

A cold month – likened at the time to a ‘winter’ month. x
3rd
September 1658 (OS)


S A ‘wild & stormy night’, with chimneys and roofs blown down and many trees uprooted. This was the night that Oliver Cromwell (the ‘Lord Protector’ of England during the ‘Inter-regnum’) died. 8
1660
(November)

W
Significant flooding is recorded in the Thames Valley on the 11th November(OS); taken together with the entry below (re: winter warmth), this implies a markedly zonal type (or high NAOI), with the associated mean jet translated far enough south to propel cyclonic disturbances across southern Britain in quick succession. 8
1660/1661
(Winter)
H D
A mild winter – using the (early) CET record (nearest whole degC only), the average comes out at 5degC, or roughly one-and-a-quarter C above the all-series mean. Pepys mentions in late January that there had been a general lack of cold weather, and that it was ‘dusty’ (implying a warm & dry winter), with plants well ahead for the season. CET
Early
-mid winter 1661/62
H W S A mild winter (second one in a row), and to judge by some accounts (see below), a wet one too (unlike the previous winter). Using the CET record (to nearest degC only at this early stage), the DJF mean CET was 5.7degC, or roughly 2C above the all-series average.
According to Evelyn .. “there having falln so greate raine without any frost or seasonable cold …”; suggests mild, cyclonic, wet & windy regime much of the winter until at least the middle of January (1662). Reported at the time as … “like May or June”.
(LWH),
Pepys,
Evelyn
February 1662
(17th-18th/old-style)


S WINDY TUESDAY
A major severe gale / storm affected certainly the southern ‘half’ of Britain, with damage reported from widely scattered locations: according to Pepys, it was ‘dangerous to go out of doors’, with several people killed, houses damaged / destroyed in London. Also reported are major falls of trees, e.g. “above 1000 oakes and as many beeches are blown down in the Forrest of Deane”; also, there is a report of 57 Elms being felled on an estate at Nettleton (Wiltshire) [thanks to Barbara Walker for this]: no doubt much damage was done to stands of trees around the southern UK.
[ Later in the year (1662), a commission was set up to enquire into the state of English forests, as of course these were important to the sustenance of the Royal Navy.]
Pepys, Evelyn
Winters 1662/63 to 1666/67 C

Three of the five winters in this period were cold, with severe frosts. It is claimed that skating was introduced into England during the winter of 1662/63 and that the King (Charles II) watched this new sport on the frozen Thames. 8
1663
(Summer)
C

Cold summer across England. By the (very crude at this time) CET record, the overall anomaly was about -0.5C. CET,
LWH
1663, August


Fog in London (in August!) .. not sure how significant this is. 8
17th
( 7th old-style calendar)
December 1663


S A flood (driven by gales) submerged Whitehall, and was produced by a high tide that was said not to have been exceeded for more than 200 years. This storm-surge would have also damaged properties / structures elsewhere along the Thames Estuary, and perhaps coasts adjacent to the southern North Sea, though I have no references for this assumption. 6, 8
1664


Much thunder & lightning during the year. This implies frequent occurrence of cold air at middle levels, and might imply that the zone of mobility was transferred well to the south of its modern-day position. 8
1664/65
(Winter)
C

Severe frost from 28th December(OS) to 7th February(OS). 6th February(OS) reputed to be one of the coldest days ever in England (!?) 8
1665
(mid/late winter to spring)
C D
cold / dry winter & a dry spring. Thought to be a factor in the outbreak of the ‘Great Plague’ later that year due with ideal conditions for breeding rats. x
October 1665 C W
Cold weather & rain in London: death rate from plague began to fall off. 6
1665/1666
(November to September)
C D
Every month from November 1665 to September 1666 was dry. By August, 1666, the River Thames at Oxford was reduced to a ‘trickle’. This drought was a large contributory factor in the ‘Great Fire of London’ (q.v.), bearing in mind that many houses in London had a high proportion of timber in them – and presumably old timbers too. [ A rainy spell started just after the Fire … 9th by the old calendar, and there was prolonged / heavy rain for 10 days early in October 1666. ] The dryness extended to Scotland, at least from May to mid-July.
Perhaps confirming an ‘anticyclonic’ bias to the broadscale type, The River Thames was frozen over in London by mid-December 1665.
1, 8
November 1665

S 7th: Deep depression probably brought the lowest barometric pressure ever measured in London (about 931 mbar .. probably still a record as at 2005).
30th: Climax to a month of wind & rain, the roads very bad. English ships trapped by ice in port at Hamburg (Pepys): obviously an anticyclonic spell had allowed near-continental temperatures to fall significantly – see below as the severe cold impacted on these islands.
6
December 1665
– January 1666
C H
2nd December: Severe frost in London 2nd to 7th.
21st December: Severe frost set in again, the Thames blocked by ice in London by 30th. The plague much reduced, but flared up again in the mild weather after 6th to 10th January 1666. A mild January followed.
6
February 1666

S On 3rd(OSP): according to Pepys: “a most furious storm”, with houses blown down in London. 6
Summer 1666 H D
27th June(OS): heat wave began: mostly dry in London since the 12th(OS).
On 5th July, 1666(OS), Pepys writes: “extremely hot … oranges ripening in the open at Hackney”.
July 6th(OS): Beginning of period with occasional showers/heavy rains though often warm. July 26th(OS): Hail ‘ as big as walnuts ‘ in London and 27th(OS) on Suffolk coast.
The climatological summer (June, July & August) of 1666 was amongst the top 10 or so of warm summers in the CET series (began 1659).
6, CET,
Pepys
August & September
1666
H D W The drought over these two months is noteworthy because it preceded the Great Fire of London; apparently the east wind, which prevailed during that period, had dried the wooden houses of London until they were like tinder. When the fire started early in September (12th/New Style), the east wind drove the flames before it and helped the fire to spread rapidly; smoke from this reached Oxford in the days thereafter. The prevailing weather was noted as ‘hot & dry’, and strong east Winds during the fire caused great problems with fire-fighting. On the 2nd/old-style (the first day of the fire), a ‘strong’ east wind is noted – Evelyn notes this as a “Fierce” eastern wind in a very dry season. It is not clear though whether the wind was caused by the fire, or was there anyway. However, Evelyn does note that there had been a….”long set of fair and warm weather”. On September 4th (14th new-style), Evelyn still notes: “The eastern wind still more impetuously driving the flames forward. “Later on the 5th(OS), the wind is noted as ‘abating’ — again not certain whether this was due to the fire burning itself out. In any case, this was effectively the end of the Great Fire.
15th September(OS): Foul weather in the southern North Sea began the breakdown of the long dry warm summer weather (see previous).
19th September(OS): The first considerable rainfall quenched London fire: rainy autumn followed.
6, 8
1666/67
(winter & early spring)
C

A cold winter over western Europe / implied parts of Britain; cold weather, hard frost in London on 31st December; Thames covered with ice on the 1st January. Using the CET series [ ‘central’ England ], the overall figure for the three ‘classical’ winter months of December, January & February showed an anomaly of -1.5degC on the all-series mean. December was around a degree (C) below average, but January was bitterly cold, with an approximate anomaly of at least -3degC; February was about average, but this was followed by a very cold March (q.v. below).
March of 1667 was very cold: nominal CET (to nearest 0.5degC and perhaps inaccurate?) was 2degC, representing an anomaly on the ‘all-series’ mean of at least -3degC. Perhaps in the ‘top-5’ coldest March’s of the series.
1, 8, CET
1667
(summer)
H D
11th June: Beginning of long dry spell lasting until mid-August; great heat in June & July. 6
1669 H D
Dry year, hot summer (London/South). Using the just-started CET series, the overall summer-time temperature represented an anomaly of about +1C on the all-series mean 8,CET
1669 C

Colder in London on 26th December than for past 5 or 6 years; freezing quickly for some days. Much colder than 1665 and 1666. 8
December 1671


Evelyn described the fog this month as … “the thickest and darkest fog ever known in the memory of man”. 8
1671/1672
(winter)
C

A cold winter over western Europe / implied for parts of Britain. The anomaly on the ‘all-series’ CET figure was approx. -1.5degC.
December 9th (C?) – Southern England – Freezing rain – Great tree damage.
1, CET,
LWH
1672
(December)

W S 1. Possible great storm after Christmas (old-style dating ~29th/30th December): Widespread reports of damage due to high winds from the Channel Islands as far north as Richmond in Yorkshire and Dunfermline in Scotland & eastwards to the Low Countries. [Although we can’t be sure, it seems as if the widespread reports of high winds point to a vigorous, rapidly deepening depression crossing northern Britain, with a tightening gradient on it’s rearward flank.]
2. There are reports of a ‘great flood’ in Worcester, on the River Severn, on the 23rd December, which taken with 1. above, implies that December 1672 was very unsettled & almost certainly MILD (though not notably so using the Manley CET series).
(Widespread ecclesiastical records ex. Internet).
CET
1673/74
(winter)
C

A ‘mixed’ but extended winter: bitterly cold in December, with a CET anomaly around -3degC, followed by a mild January (+2degC), then a cold or very cold February (-2degC). [ This was followed by a very cold March – see below.] CET
March
1674
C
D 13-day snowfall / blizzard – “The thirteen drifty days” in the Scottish Borders began about 5th to 8th March (new style). Most of the sheep perished. From Norwich cathedral records (listed as 1673 some records, but I think this is the ecclesiastical year), a great snow (East Anglia / Norwich) from February 24th, which lay on the ground until Easter (end March) when it suddenly thawed. (Norwich/Cathedral records)
In the CET series, the coldest March, (since 1659), with value 1degC (poor accuracy for the record so early on, but obviously very extreme). This represents an anomaly (on the ‘whole-series’ mean) of something like -4degC;
6, CET
1674
(Summer)
C

The estimated value of CET for this season was 13.7degC. At this point, only values to the nearest whole degree C are available, but there is little doubt that this summer was one of the coldest such seasons across England & Wales in the CET series (began 1659). [Interesting to note that it comes only 2 years after, and 2 years before, notably warm summers!] CET
1675
(Summer)
C W
Wet, cool summer. For the second time, a notably cold summer using the CET record: the value was estimated to have been 13.7degC, the same as in 1674. CET, 8
1676
(Spring & Summer)
C H D 1. Spring 1676 was on the chilly side, with the CET averaged over the three months of March, April & May just below average. (Note that the previous two Springs had been much colder); it was also dry, probably excessively so for many across large areas of England, as there are parish records (e.g. from Wintringham, Yorkshire & Westonzoyland, Somerset) which make note of extended dry conditions; indeed, the drought extended through the summer, and there are notes in local records from the Somerset levels for example, that sluices had to be set so as to admit water to farmland (rather than the more common need of keeping sea water out).
2. With a CET value of 16.8degC, this was one of the 20 or so warmest summers across England & Wales in that series (began 1659). In particular, June 1676, with a value of 18.0degC was the second warmest such-named month in that series (as at 2005). Note that this Summer followed two notably cold summers: see above. There was ‘exceptional’ heat 19th June to 1st July 1676.
3. Taken together, the cold spring, warm / hot summer & extended drought suggests frequent anticyclonic episodes, with a bias for the highs to be centred to the north or NW, favouring easterly or northerly winds.
6, CET
1676/1677
(Winter)
C

A cold winter western Europe / implied for parts of Britain. (Easton, in CHMW/Lamb); Thames frozen; huts to sell brandy built on the river. 1, 8
Christmas 1680
to June 1681
C D
According to Evelyn … hardly any rain. …. ” there still continues such a drought as has hardly ever been known in England”. However, there is some doubt surrounding this, as the price of wheat was not unduly high. In Scotland, end of 4 months spell of dry, easterly winds.
The winter 1680/81 noted as ‘severe’.
6, 8,
Evelyn
1682
W
Thames flood. (month & type not known, i.e. whether land-water after high rains, or storm-surge type.) 8
1682
(May)

W
A severe thunderstorm at Oxford 31st May (old-style calendar). Nearly ‘2 feet’ of ‘rain fell’ into a 4 foot diameter container. Almost certainly accompanied by a tornado and there is much speculation about how much of the rain was due to a collapsing very strong updraught or tornado vortex. x
1682
(October)
C

Drifting snow around the end of the month reported from Fife in Scotland; depths of 12 to 20 feet were recorded (~4 to ~8m). [ This dating needs confirmation – it may be October 1683. ] x
1683/84
(winter)
C

One of the four or five coldest winters over the British Isles (& large parts of Europe), and the coldest in the CET record. (LW/Manley -‘Weather’, but note that the CET record to the nearest 0.5degC at this time). The 15th December 1683 saw the onset of a great frost in England & central Europe: Thames frozen down to London Bridge by 2nd January 1684, with booths on the ice by 27th January and for more than a fortnight thereafter – coaches were observed on the ice and the royal court (King Charles II) visited the fair held on the frozen Thames. Many birds perished. This great frost was claimed to be the longest on record; the Thames in London was completely frozen for about two months and the ice was reported to be 11 inches (circa 28 cm) thick. Sea ice was reported along the coasts of SE England and many harbours could not be used due to ice: according to some sources, ice formed for a time between Dover & Calais, with the two sides ‘ joined together ‘! Severe problems for shipping accessing such ports on either side of the North Sea. Near Manchester, the ground was frozen to a depth of 27 inches and in Somerset to more than 4 feet. The winter was ‘incredibly severe’ according to John Evelyn and a Frost Fair was held on the ice. “No vessels could stir out or come in while a thick fog occurred towards the end of January which made it difficult to see across the streets”. (This latter due to warm advection no doubt, as a thaw set in over snow/ice covered surfaces).
HH Lamb has constructed a tentative mean seasonal pressure pattern with High pressure in the Faeroes area, an arctic northerly from Spitzbergen to the Baltic, thence an anticyclonic east or northeasterly over NW Europe / British Isles. See also 1739/40; 1813/14 and 1962/63.
(Technically, this winter was the coldest in the CET series, but series here is noted to the nearest 0.5degC only). Using the CET series, both January (-3.0) & February (-1.0) has sub-zero mean temperatures, only one of four instances of successive ‘sub-zero’ months in that series (see also 1740, 1878/79 & 1963). This was the winter that was described so vividly by R.D. Blackmore in his novel: “Lorna Doone“.
First half of February: based on reconstructed records: CET averaged (minus) 6.6 degC: the coldest 15 day period of the entire 336 year record (up to 1995, and almost certainly beyond that).
On 18th Feb. 1684, rain / thaw after 8 weeks with Thames frozen: ships could reach Port of London by 20th/22nd.
1, 8, CET,
LWH
1684
(Spring &
Summer)
H D
Drought: dry & hot spring & summer (London/South). 8
1684
(December)
C

December 23rd (C?) – southern England – blizzard – many froze to death. LWH
1685
(late Winter &
Spring)

D
Drought: no rain for many months before June (London/South). 8
1685/86 winter H

One of the warmest winters (by CET) in the series which began in 1659. Up to 1997, rank=5 Value=6.33; Dec=6.5, Jan=6.5, Feb=6.0 (Others: 1734, 1796, 1834, 1869, 1935, 1975, 1989 and 1990.) CET
1686 H D
Hot, dry summer (London/South). 8
1687 – 1695 C

A spell of often cool summers; the summers of 1694 & 1695 were particularly cold. Both of these latter years (overall) were cold. 8,
CET
1687
(May)


S On May 12th a hurricane(!) occurred in London. (no more details on this .. treat with caution). x
December 1687
W
5th December: boats plying in the streets of Dublin after heavy rains 4th/5th. 6
1688
(October / November)


S William of Orange (married to Mary, daughter of British king, James II) was ‘invited’ to take over the throne. He set sail from Holland on October 19th to cross the North Sea. Autumn storms forced the fleet to return to Holland when only half-way across the North Sea (not unusual in this era of sail). On November 1st, the fleet sailed again, intending to land in Yorkshire, but the east or northeast wind was described as a ‘gale’: this favoured the Dutch fleet, but prevented the English Royal Navy from leaving the Thames Estuary (3rd). The Dutch fleet sailed for Torbay – couldn’t land (due to ‘haze’ – perhaps thick mist/fog), but on 5th, air-mass change, visibility picked up and ‘southerly’ blew the fleet back to Torbay (from near Plymouth). x
1688/89
(Winter /
January)
C

From late December 1688 to early February 1689, extended period(s) of bitterly cold weather across England. Noted as a ‘Severe winter’ (though the overall winter CET not impressive). However, January 1689 was notably cold, with an estimated anomaly (on the whole-series) of at least -2.5C. A frost fair was held on the Thames, which implies persistent sub-zero temperatures & often strong east winds to allow the ice to form to sufficient thickness / stability. 8,
CET, LWH
1690 – 99 C

6 out of 10 of these winters defined as ‘severe’ in the CET series. That is, CET mean temperature value for the months December, January and February, below 3.0 degC.
Although that series applies strictly to a closely-defined area of central & southern England, it is clear from accounts of the time that ‘harsh’ weather occurred elsewhere within this period: for example, in NE Scotland, much outward migration of farming folk occurred after a series of bad harvests – with tales of mills falling into disuse.
> The mean value of the CET for these 10 years is around 8.1degC (low-resolution to the series at this time), which is at least 2C below the modern-day average value & is the coldest decade in that series. There were four years with a mean CET below 8degC: 1692(7.7), 1694(7.7), 1695(7.3) & 1698(7.6). These years are respectively the 6th, 5th, 2nd & 4th coldest years in the entire series.
CET
1690/91
(winter / early spring)
C

In Fife, many areas were ‘knee-deep’ in snow from January until the beginning of April; there was ‘great distress’ by reason of sickness. x
1691 H D
Dry year. Hot / dry during late summer & autumn – dry winter. (London/South). 8
1692 C

A cold year (London/South). 8
Feb. 1692 C

Freezing NE gale and heavy snow in Highlands ended mild, fair weather and brought renewed severe/wintry weather, as had held sway Dec 1691-Jan 1692, thereby providing cover for escapes from the Massacre of Glencoe. 6, 8
May 1692 H

Warm thundery spell set in on the 30th May, 1692 & lasted about 3 weeks. 6
1692
(Summer)
C W S The summer of 1692 was exceedingly wet and rather cold & was stated to be the worst summer since 1648.
June 19th: wind and rain stripped trees of their leaves, climax of 3-day rainfall around London. Continual rain / floods went on through July & August.
6, 8
1692
(late Summer / early Autumn)
H

August 26th: Beginning of fair warm weather which lasted until 14th September after the summer rains. 6, 8
September 1692 C D S 25th: NE gale introduced long spell of stormy NE-NW winds, mostly dry but very cold day and night: frosts around London from 9th October prevented fruit ripening. 6
1694 C

1694 was a cold year (London/South): the CET value for 1694 was ~ 7.7degC [ crude data at this date ], which is some 1.5C below the long-period average & would place it in the ‘top 5 or 6’ coldest years in that series; a notably cold summer using the CET record. 6, 8, CET
November, 1694

S November 2nd(OS): Notable storm. Villages in NE Scotland (near the Moray coast) buried in sand due to a prolonged northerly or northwesterly gale. 1,
LWH
1694/95
(winter & spring)
C

Long & severe frosts during the winter of 1694/95. A severe winter.
December 1694 – frost / snow started in London on 25th(OSP). At Oxford, frost began around 28th(NS)
January 1695 – Fairly general ‘severe’ conditions. Thames frozen on 23rd(OSP) and by the 30th(OSP), frost / continual snow had last for 5 weeks in London.
February 1695 – Deep snow after heavy falls 8th/9th(OSP). More snow end of month London area.
March 1695 – further ‘significant’ snowfall.
April 1695 – severe frost / heavy snow continuing well into the latter part of the month.
The third-coldest spring (March/April/May) in the CET record: with a value averaged over those three months of 6.0degC, the anomaly was approx. -2C below the all-series mean. (see also 1770 & 1837)
6, 8,
CET, LWH
1695 C

This is thought to be, for the British Isles as a whole, one of the coldest years ‘ever known’ (though sources don’t make it clear if this is within the ‘instrumental’ era, or a much longer historical time-span. By the CET record (covering ‘Midland’ & parts of SE England), it is technically the second-coldest in that series (began 1659), with a value of 7.25degC. Only 1740 was colder. However, the series at this point is in its early phase with data given to the nearest 0.5degC only and based on few observations. 6, 8, CET
August – October
1695
C
S August 1695: 21st – N wind and night frost at the end of a cold summer with continual rain and westerly gales. ‘Greater frosts were not always seen in winter’ (John Evelyn at Wotton, Surrey).
With a CET value (based on crude data at this point in the series) of 13.2degC, it was a notably cold summer – one of the ‘top-5’ cold summers using that series.
(This summer was one of the first of a sequence of disastrous harvests in Scotland, where famine ensued).
August 27th: Renewed rain / gales (winds mostly between NW & E) set in, and lasted until 12th October.
6, CET
December 1695
to February 1696
C

An interval of snow / frost in the London area after mild, dark misty weather and before a long wet spell which lasted until February 1696. Intense frost (London/South?) on 26th January, temperature 9 degrees (?F) below zero in London. (in degC this would be: -23degC.) 6, 8
Summer, 1696
W S Westerly winds and frequent rains / gales set in on the 4th July, after warm, thundery June, and lasted until 15th August. 6, 8
August & September
1696



18th August: End of rains in the South, where W winds brought mostly fair weather over the next month; dearth of food becoming serious in Scotland. 6
1696
(September)
C
S 18th September: stormy wet weather returns 6
November
1696
C

13th: Mostly fair weather, but with severe frosts near London, set in 13th to 20th after frequent stormy winds and rain since 18th September (q.v.). 6
December 1696
to February 1697
C

1696/97 A severe winter.
11th December: East wind brought in spell of snowy weather lasting until February 1697.
West wind 27th to 29th December brought more snow but did not break the long frost near London.
8th January: NE gale renewed the frost ( after brief intermission with rain and drizzle in the London area 6th to 8th ).
February 1697 was a severe month in a severe winter in a decade of severe winters. CET=+ 0.5degC (at this point, the series is the nearest half-a-degree C only). [c.f. with the 1961-90 mean of 3.8degC.] Not a ‘record-breaker’, but certainly colder than we have become used to.
6, 8, CET
1697 & 1699 H D
Appear to have been dry years. The total in the Upminster record for 1697 was 15.6 ins / 396 mm. Particularly dry (& warm) in the London area in 1699. 8
May
1697



May 14th or 15th (NSP) 1697, a damaging hailstorm affected parts of Hertfordshire, observed to run from Hitchin to Great Offley (Hertfordshire), though the track may in fact have been longer: this would imply a movement from ENE to WSW. Several people killed. The size (diameter) of the hail from contemporary reports must have been in excess of 6 cm, and probably up to 8 or 9 cm. [ see also 1808: July & the TORRO web-site. ] TORRO,
LWH
June 1697
W
Severe flood caused by lake burst in bog near Charleville, Co. Cork, the spring having been uncommonly wet in England and Ireland with frequent rain/hail. 6
1697
(Autumn)
C

A very cold season. Frosts sharp/severe in November, with rivers in Netherlands were blocked unseasonably early (even for those cold times). Fall of snow in the London area on the 24th November. Remaining cold/sleet/snow to the end of the month. x
January
1698

W D Before the cold / snow got going in earnest (see below), a wet / stormy period on the 3rd/4th January 1698. (Not unusual – see for example, 1947). x
Winter 1697/1698
& year 1698
C

A severe winter (1697/98). Using the monthly mean values of CET, all three winter months (Dec, Jan & Feb) can be classified as ‘very cold’; that is December 2.5degC; January 0.0degC and February 0.5degC, giving a seasonal mean of 1.0degC (NB: series only to nearest half degree C at this point in the record). When compared with the 1961-90 long period average, this represents an anomaly of -3.1 degC.
In general, frosty weather with heavy snow and frozen rivers occurred during much of this January (of 1698) in south-east England (and perhaps elsewhere – record not available). From the 10th January 1698, snow with deep drifts reported across the southeast of Britain. [ This would imply that British Isles weather was dominated by a blocking high extending westwards over the country from Russia (using mean monthly reconstructed mslp maps).]
Frost, hail & snow persisted from January to May in this year (1698).
1698 reputed to have been the coldest year between 1695 & 1742.
First week of February. 1698: ice 8 inches (circa 20cm) thick on the sea coast of Suffolk.
There was deep snow all over England on the 3rd May (after snowfall up to 6 inches/15cm in Yorkshire on the 1st – and a keen frost) and the spring of 1698 was the most backward for 47 years; further snowfall 13th May in London and Yorkshire, with corn/fruit crops damaged. More snow 19th in Shropshire – described as ‘deep’;
Before the cold/snow got going, a wet / stormy period on the 3rd/4th January 1698. [see also notes re: February & March below]
6, 8
1698
(February & March)
C

The severe conditions that occurred at the end of the January (see above), continued into February, but a rapid thaw set in on the 3rd which lasted until the 14th. On the 24th February, with a return to wintry weather, a great snowstorm occurred with strong northerly winds: roads became blocked with drifts to 3m or more. [No further details as yet]. After a temporary thaw at the end of February, 1698, March turned out to be another ‘winter’ month: A cold easterly flow became re-established in early March, with freezing conditions, and by the 8th, rivers in south-eastern England were again frozen with ice 10cm or so thick. This cold spell, one of many that winter, lasted until the latter part of the month. On the 21st March though, milder southwesterly winds set in. x
1698
(May/spring)
C

May, 1698 was the coldest May in the CET series (also for large parts of west/central Europe). The mean temperature for the month was 8.5 degC, almost 3 degC below the 1961-90 mean, and barely above the normal for April. The spring of 1698 followed a severe winter, and even in the ‘Little Ice Age’ was reputed to be the most backward for almost 50 years.
Contemporary accounts spoke of frequent heavy frosts, snow and hail throughout the spring, with a “great deep snow all over England” on 13th May(NS). [ Some sources have this as the 3rd May(OSP) ]
CET, 8
1698
(Summer &
Annual)
C W
The summer of 1698 was notably cold using the CET series. It may have also been wet (but no data on that), as the remark below implies that the growing crops were held back – usually a sign of a combination of cold and wet.
Added to the events listed above (q.v.), 1698 turned out to be another cold year (within Lamb’s ‘Little Ice Age’), with the CET value placing it within the ‘top-5’ of coldest years in that dataset (began 1659).
CET
August
1698

D W 20th: Beginning of a short period of fine weather which saved some of the harvest in Yorkshire: later a long wet autumn ruined most of the crops, which sprouted before harvest. 6
1699
(Annual & Summer)
H D
With 1697 (q.v.), a dry year: a notably dry summer – the first of several hot summers after nine successive cold summers. 8




1700 – 1749
first half of 18th C.
D
It was ‘remarkably dry’ overall Britain and near continent. Seems to have been notably dry in the London area. Dry years were common, while wet years were few & far between. Only 5 wet summers during this period compared with 16 during the 2nd half. 8
1700
D
A dry summer (London/South). 8
January 1701

S 29th: Severe southerly gale after period of frost; many ships wrecked, trees blown down and buildings damaged in southern England. 6
1701
(April)
C D
Very cold: CET = 4.7 deg C. Equal coldest April (with 1837) in that series. (Probably also dry as notably cold spring months tend to be anticyclonic). CET
1701 H D
Little rain for several months before May; warm summer (London/South). In the Upminster record (Essex), the rainfall for March was 0.79 ins / 20 mm, & for April, the figure was 0.29 ins / 7 mm. 8
1702


Waterspout (?) caused damage at Hatfield (Hertfordshire?) on 21st June.
[ Odd report / location for a ‘waterspout’! ]
8
1703
W
Very wet from April to July. 8
November 1703

S The ‘Great Storm‘ of 1703 which commenced on Friday 26th November (old-style) was probably the worst ever experienced in England; it is described by Defoe in his work: “The Storm 1703“. This storm was associated with a deep secondary depression which swept across Ireland, Wales & central England; it is possible that this secondary developed from a West Indian hurricane which had been off the coast of Florida a few days previously. The gale first blew from the south, then veered to west-south-west and finally to north-west. The southern half of the country felt the full force of the storm and it was worst in London on the nights of Friday 26th November and Tuesday 30th November, when bricks, tiles and stones flew about with such force, and were so numerous, that none dared venture forth from their homes. After the storm the price of tiles increased by about 300%.
The tidal flood affecting the Thames on Sunday 30th was associated with this storm, though the tidal storm surge for this event was more significant on the Severn and along the Dutch coast. Twelve warships with 1300 men on board were lost in sight of land, Eddystone lighthouse was destroyed and practically all shipping in the Thames was destroyed or damaged. In London alone, 22 people were drowned, 21 people were killed and 200 injured by falling and flying debris. It was estimated that 8000 people lost their lives in the floods caused by the storm in the rivers Thames and Severn and in Holland. The damage due to the storm and flood in London alone was estimated to be £ 2 000 000. [ Lamb quotes ‘new-style’ dates for this event of 7th/8th December 1703.]
Additional notes:
1. Possibly a rejuvinated Atlantic hurricane, this storm produced estimated winds reaching 120mph/104 knots (Lamb estimates 150kn).
2. There was apparently little rain.
3. On the south Wales coast, a tidal surge drove up the Bristol Channel, leaving the port of Bristol in ruins, and the hinterland under water.
4. Considerable structural damage occurred across England & Wales, with large loss of standing timber (much as 1987/Oct). Estimates of total loss of life are around 8000, which makes it much worse than the October 1987 event. The heavy lead on the roof of Westminster Abbey being ripped off and carried well clear of the building. The Eddystone lighthouse (newly built/2nd time) was destroyed, and its designer/builder (Henry Winstanley) was killed as he was on site at the time.
5. The storm dealt a severe blow to Merchant and Royal Navy shipping in the Channel and along the English east coast. For the latter, over 1000 seamen were killed, including many senior RN personnel, and 15 ships. (England was then at war with France).
6. Much salt contamination of inland fields by wind-driven spray/salt-laden winds.
7. The depression (possibly a secondary within the circulation of a parent further north/North of Scotland) approached SW England/Celtic Sea and moved across Wales to Yorkshire (estimated eastward speed ~ 40kn; a factor in the surface wind speeds), with widespread southwesterly severe gales on the 26th, and a rearward surge of strength affected the eastern English Channel during the early hours of the 27th.
8. It is estimated that a very intense pressure gradient developed on it’s southern flank, with central MSLP almost certainly below 960mbar (some sources, and Lamb, say possibly 950mbar).
9. During 27th & 28th, this storm caused widespread problems Low Countries, North Germany, Denmark and adjacent areas.
[ NB: the ‘stormy’ spell had actually started around two weeks earlier, with local damage / loss of shipping reported; for example on the 24th, a storm of such proportions would, if this latter had not occurred, been regarded as the ‘major’ event of this time. Earlier still, on the 12th, another severe gale affected the English Channel & southern North Sea. The ‘final’ storm marked the conclusion of the spell.])
8, Lamb, Wheeler
1704 H D
Perhaps the driest year for 20 years .. but not everywhere. A warm summer (London/South). 8
1705
D
A dry year; “Mild & Dark” (?) with fogs and close weather during the first half of March 1705.
A dry summer (London/South).
8
1705
(August)


S A ‘great storm’ affected the south English coast on the 11th August (OSP). Great damage was done to shipping, with many deaths. Onshore, there was considerable loss of / damage to property in the Brighton (Sussex) area. x
1706
(November)

W
From Norwich cathedral records . . . “Two great floods in Norwich”. (If it is this time of year, suggests events due to heavy / prolonged rainfall rather than severe thunderstorms.) x
1707
D
A dry year (London/South). 8
July 1707 H

“Hot Tuesday”: many heat-wave deaths in England (temperature details not known .. but must have been ‘notable’!!) 6
1708 C

The coldest spring, summer & autumn for 47 years, apart from 1698. 8
1708/09
(winter)
C

1. This was a severe winter: the frost lasted for over three months (Dec – March) and the temperature fell (location unspecified) to 0degF (or -18degC). A notably foggy period in December 1708 (from 15th to 24th/OSP). The Thames frozen in London. Reputed to have been more severe, and more destructive and continued longer than in any year since 1698. Cold/severe winter, by CET series. (1.2 degC or about 2.5C below all-series mean, which is a lot for the three months as a whole.)
2. For London/Southeast in particular, a cold spell which started on 7th January 1709(OSP) lasted for nearly two months, and it became so cold that the Thames froze over completely, with the usual ‘booths & tents’ being set up on the frozen surface. (Actually, one report I have found says that the Thames was frozen sufficiently for such 1st-4th January; this would imply that the spell starting 7th was immediately preceded by a ‘milder’ spell of a few days, with December being cold. Inspection of the CET record has that month as a ‘below-average’ event, but not exceptionally so, therefore some confusion here.)
(Sounds a bit like 1962/63 with the fog at the start of the episode).
[ Also “probably” the COLDEST winter across Europe (as a whole) in a series starting 1500; combining proxy & instrumental data. (University of Berne / RMetS / ‘Weather’ 2004) ]
6, 8, CET
1709
W
A wet year. 8
1710 (January & February)


Very foggy. Dates noted as 19th to 24th January(OSP), & ‘in February’. (London/South). 8
1711
(May)



“Lightning strike on 20th May, 1711(OSP) blew a stable block and coach-house apart, killing two men. Glass windows burst outwards and brickwork split in half”. There are also reports of a ‘violent storm’ affecting Nottinghamshire – damaging churches (not sure if this is the same date / synoptic event as above). (From Richmond & Twickenham Informer)
December 1713 H

This month was very mild with a lot of fog and there was thick fog on the 13th. 8
1714




1714
(February)


S Possible major gale / storm on/about 1st February (OSP). (Parish Register of Wintringham). x
1714
D
Outstandingly dry: the annual rainfall at Upminster (Essex) was some 11.25 inches (or 286 mm) which is about half of the average during the first half of the 20th century. (These low values were not beaten until 1921 q.v.)
The extended dry weather was noted elsewhere across England & Ireland, and in Ulster, where a ‘severe drought’ is said to have lasted from 1714 to 1719, it is thought that the adverse conditions for agriculture led to a major migration of Ulster-Scots from there to North America, specifically to Pennsylvania.
8
1715
(Summer)

W
A wet summer. A notably wet summer at Kew Observatory (then in rural Surrey). The anomaly is given by Lamb (in CHMW) as 194% (of 1916-1950 LTA). 1, 8
1715/16
(Winter)
C

Cold / severe winter, by CET series. (0.8 degC). Severe frost from 24th November(OS) to 9th February(OS). Frost fair held on the Thames. The Thames (apparently the tidal part!) was completely frozen for about two months during this severe winter: a frost fair was held on the river. 25th January: ice on Thames in London lifted by some 14ft (~ 4.3m) by a flood tide but did not break. Much fog 24th to 28th January (temporary mild incursion?); some fog in February. 6, 8, CET
1716
D
A dry year – with a dry summer: the Thames so low by September that people walked under the arches of London Bridge. This was apparently caused by a combination of drought, strong winds and low tides. 8
1717


Some foggy days in January & February (London/South). 8
1718, 1719 H

Fine summer weather gave a good crop of grapes at Richmond in both years, and the summer of 1719 was claimed to be one of the hottest for some time. Generally warm across the whole of England & Wales (using the CET series), with 1719 notably warm. 8, CET
1720
(December)


S “Great losses sustained in Lancashire in December, 1720 by the violent overflowing of the sea”. (Diary of Nicholas Blundell). Storm tides (wind-driven surge) had flooded 6600 acres of land, washed out 157 houses, and damaged 200 more. The main areas of damage were on low-lying land at Pilling Moss and Marton Moss near the Fylde Coast and the West Lancashire Moss between Formby & Tarleton. At Ince Blundell sea banks were breached, the River Alt floodgates were broken & more than 100 acres of productive farmland were damaged by seawater (salt contamination). Roads and bridges were also affected, including a public bridge in Great Crosby known at ‘Foremost poole bridge’ (Far Moss Pool bridge). x
October 1722


Exceptionally foggy month (in London) – with fog on 9 days. 8
1723 H W D Long fine summer but a wet July (London/South). 8
1724


Severe thunderstorm with hail on the 10th June. 8
January 1725
D
Very dry period began 13th: only 15 days with rain at Wells, Somerset over the following three months (to mid-April). 6, 8
February 1725
D
Exceptionally foggy month (in London) – with fog on 10 days. Part of a notably dry spell .. see above. 6, 8
April 1725
W
25th: beginning of exceptional prolonged wet spell with winds between NW & SW (after a mild winter 1724/25). Rain fell in London on at least 60 out of 75 days between this date and the 8th July. 6
1725 Summer C

Cold summer. Notably cold by CET series. The CET value was 13.1degC, over 2C below the LTA in that series (began 1659), and (as at 2004), the coldest in that series. No grapes (ripened?) at Richmond-upon-Thames (then in a semi-rural Surrey) 8, CET
September 1725 H D
5th: Beginning of drier weather and a mild autumn after prolonged raininess since April. 6
1725/26 C

Severe winter (London/South). 8
Spring / early summer 1726
W
On 8th March, River Thames four inches (10 cm) higher than had been known for 40 years, presumably due to high rainfall over England & Wales during the winter / spring. Very thundery from end of May to mid-June. 8
1727
D
A dry summer (London/South). 8
1728
W
A wet year; a wet summer. In September, fog recorded on 6 days (London/South ?) 8
1728/29
(Winter &
Spring)
C

Severe winter. Frost & snow from mid-December to end of January. Very backward spring in 1729.(LW) The winter CET value was 1.7degC, which is roughly 2C below the all-series mean, and the spring value at 6.7degC is just over 1C below the mean for that season. 8
May 1729

S Tornado destroyed buildings along track through Sussex & Kent. 6
1729
(Summer)

W
A wet summer across England & Wales. The anomaly is given by Lamb (in CHMW) as 169% of LTA (1916-1950). 1
1729-1731
(Autumns)
H

Three years in a row with remarkably warm Autumn seasons. All three periods (September to November in each year) experienced CET anomalies of around +2degC on the long-term average. In 1729, the September of that year was the warmest such-named month (until 2006) in the CET record (16.6/+3.3C), followed by a near-average October, but a warm November (+2C). With 1730 & 1731, the warmth was consistent across all three months, with November of 1730 having an anomaly of over +3C. These latter two years (1730/1731) experienced the warmest autumns in the CET record until 2006 comprehensively beat them. (q.v.) CET
1729, December


Thick fog all day in Richmond (Middlesex) on 12th & 19th December(OSP). 8
January 1730


1st: a ‘great fog’ in London – many lives lost; Thick fog 5th to 7th January(OSP). 8
1731
(January &
February)
C D
The first two months of this year were notably cold, at least across England & Wales, & often very dry. The anomaly for January was -1.3C & for February -1.6C (wrt CET long-period average). For the winter, the anomaly was -1.2C. Noted at the time as a period of ‘Great frost’. The temperature in ‘London’ fell to 0degF (or ~-18degC). Much snow (London/South). 8
1731 (summer & autumn) H

A warm summer & autumn;
Persistently warm period September to November.[ see also general note above re: 1729-1731 ]
8
1731
(Annual)

D
Outstandingly dry – a couple of sites in the southeast of England around London recorded around 14 ins / 356 mm of rain, roughly half modern-day average: started with a great frost. (See above). 8
1732
D
Dry summer (London/South). 8
1733 H D
Dry year; Hot July (London/South): into the ‘top-10’ of warmest such-named months in the CET series. 8,CET
1733/34 (winter) H

One of the warmest winters (by CET) in the series which began in 1659. Up to 1997, rank=9 Value=6.10; Dec=7.6, Jan=4.3, Feb=6.4 (Others: 1686, 1796, 1834, 1869, 1935, 1975, 1989 and 1990.) CET
8th(OSP) January 1735

S The westerly or west-south-westerly gale on this date was the most violent since the destructive storm of November 1703. The damage in London was considerable; several houses were destroyed, practically every street was covered with tiles, and 36 trees were uprooted in St. James’ Park. 8
1735
W
Flooding at Kingston on the 19th July(OSP). 8
1735

S Severe storm (doesn’t say whether ‘gale’ or thunderstorm) on 24th August(OSP) damaged houses and trees – location not given. 8
1736
(February)

W S Highest tide for 50 years in the Thames basin on the 16th February (late February in ‘new-style’ dating): coupled to severe gales and a deep depression, this produced a significant storm-surge which affected much of the east coast (of England, and possibly elsewhere around the North Sea). Significant flooding in Westminster & Whitehall (‘two feet through Westminster Hall’) and the high waters affected much of the Thames shoreline downstream to the Essex & Kent coasts; serious inundation of low-lying areas across the English Fens and other eastern marshlands was also recorded. The severe gale caused a loss of shipping right around the coasts of the British Isles. An additional factor was high rainfall, which apparently affected large areas of Britain, itself causing extensive flooding. [ Based on various contemporary newspaper entries collated by David Bradbury.] 8, usw
1736
(December)


S Another high tide on the 24th December (OS?) caused the Thames to flood Westminster Hall. This presumably wouldn’t have been notable unless some form of storm-surge was involved. (see also February 1736 above). 8
1736, October


Fog 12th – 19th October. 8
1737
(late Spring & early-mid Summer)
H W
Persistently warm period May to July. By the CET record, each of these months had positive anomalies well in excess of +1C, with June around +1.7C.
A wet summer (this statement may apply to August only – see below).
8,
CET
1737
(August)
C

In marked contrast to the above, August 1737 failed to please, with the CET value of 13.8degC being some 2C below the long-term average; this places this August in the ‘top-20’ of coldest such-named months in that series (began 1659). CET
1737

S There were two violent gales in 1737; the first on 3rd August uprooted numerous trees and sank some ships in the Thames, and considerable damage was also caused by a second gale on the 1st December. 8
25th July 1738


During a thunderstorm, hail stones “bigger than walnuts” fell at Uxbridge (Middlesex); house roofs were damaged and several people were injured. Severe hailstorms in many districts; in Hertfordshire & Wiltshire lumps of ice (hail aggregates?) up to 9 inches (circa 23cm) across fell (in a mainly dry summer). 6, 8
1738/1739
(Winter)
H

A notably mild winter (Dec/Jan/Feb). Using the CET series, the average was 5.6degC, an approximate all-series anomaly of +2C. CET
January 1739

S Central Scotland: 25th January new-style (14th old-style) – early hours, a severe gale (similar to that in 1968). A great deal of loss of shipping in both Clyde and Forth estuaries. Widespread structural damage in the Glasgow & Edinburgh areas – loss of a great many trees. x
1739
W
A wet, unsettled year. Violent thunderstorm on the 10th September. (NB: in ref. 8, a ‘gale’ is noted on the 11th September, doing much damage in London – is this the same phenomenon? 8
October 1739 C

8th: Beginning of historic winter: East wind set in with frequent frosts. 6
1739/40
(winter & much of spring)
C D S This winter was extremely severe and may have been worse than that of 1715/16.
This winter included a notably severe / bitter January and February, both of which were in the ‘top-5’ of coldest such-named months. Using the CET series, both January (-2.8) and February (-1.6) had sub-zero mean temperatures, only one of four instances of consecutive ‘sub-zero’ months (see also 1684, 1878/79 & 1963).
29th/30th December: severe (or ‘violent’) easterly gale & ice in the Thames damaged shipping considerably. Coupled to some very low temperatures, probably below -10degC, many deaths occurred due to exposure. The wind-driven waves along the English east coast did great damage, with the port of Dunwich being badly affected – it had already been disappearing after previous inundations & storms. (see also below **)
The streets of London were clogged with snow and ice, the Thames was frozen for about eight weeks, and Thames shipping and London Bridge were damaged considerably by the ice. According to one report (Rev. W. Derham, Upminster [Essex]) the frost of this winter was the most severe on record and the temperature on 3rd January was down to -11degF (-24 degC). [ NB:at this time, and for at least another 150 yr, Upminster was highly rural, & this very low temperature should not be seen as being relevant to a ‘modern’ London climatology, even if very severe winters were to return.]
(** In addition to the prolonged frost (roughly Christmas Eve to mid-February), a violent easterly gale, accompanied by snow, did considerable damage on the 29th & 30th December 1739. The gale and large blocks of drifting ice played havoc with shipping on the Thames; many ships were driven ashore and dashed to pieces.)
12th November: Northerly gale with rain, snow & hail;
26th November: Beginning of longest break in the prevailing E winds of this long, cold winter: many rainy days between 26th November & 4th January (1740) though still rather cold.
A notably dry January across England & Wales (see also 1766). As it was also bitterly cold (see 1. above), this suggests the classic ‘Scandinavian/North European’ blocking high, with persistent easterly / Polar Continental airmass from snow-covered areas of mainland Europe. At places in East Anglia, it was reported at the time that “3 inches of thick ice formed in just 24 hours”: a remarkable feat, though it could have been something like a waterfall, or water overflow etc., rather than 3 inches on top of a still water surface. One report has it that the temperatures were below 15degF (or -9degC), but doesn’t say if that is by day, by night etc. The 16th January (contemporary calendar) is noted in particular as being “the coldest day in the memory of man”.
Some exceptional snowfalls over Scotland, more especially in January – often with marked drifting. Further south, in the London area, snow (falling) was recorded on 39 days between November 1739 & May 1740. Deep snow fell about Christmas in Norwich, which remained on the ground until March.
This great/severe winter of 1739/40 ended gently on the 9th March. [ see also notes below.]
6, 8, CET, EWP
1740-43
D
One of the worst dry spells of the 18th century. In particular, the years 1741 & 1743 were exceptionally dry. 8
1740
(March)
C

Heavy snowfall from the harsh winter (see above), remained on the ground until March, when breaking up of the frost, a ‘prodigious’ flood ensued. The severity of the winter (in Norwich) produced riots, which were not quelled in the city without military assistance and the loss of six or seven lives. x
1740 (spring) C

(Following the cold winter – q.v. above) . . . a notably cold season by the CET series: snow fell in London at night 16th / 17th May. On the 31st May this year, moors at Eskdalemuir (Scottish borders) frozen too hard for peat cutting. With the severe winter weather extending well into spring (see below), the shortage of vegetables it caused led to an outbreak of scurvy.
May overall (8.6degC, ~ -2.5C on whole-series mean) was the coldest such named month in the series (ignoring the early part where the record is only to the nearest 0.5C).
[ This was followed by a cold June, with a whole-series anomaly ~ -1.5C ]
6, CET
1740 (September & October) C
S In 1740, London experienced gales on 4th & 7th September(OSP), and on 1st November(OSP); the gale of 7th September did great damage to shipping, and the gale of the 1st November blew down one of the spires of Westminster Abbey and most of the wall around Hyde Park.
9th October (or possibly the 1st – calendar style not clear): North wind brought uncommonly severe, early, night frost, after a cold summer: ice on many rivers in England, with snow showers also reported widely. By the 12th October, ice half-inch (circa 1cm) thick in Kent. (This was the coldest October on record).
In the CET series, this October was the coldest such-named month, with a value of 5.3degC, over 4C below the all-series mean, and over a degC colder than the next coldest October in the series, 1817.
6, 8,CET
November 1740

S 12th: Northerly gale with rain, snow & hail. (In reference 8, we have a date of 1st November?!) If it is the latter, then damage was caused to Westminster Abbey, with one of the spires being blown down. 6, 8
December 1740

S A gale from between north and east (storm-surge?) drove sea water many miles inland and seriously inundated the ancient Suffolk town of Dunwich. The last remnants of the original church were washed away. Large sections of the cliffs disappeared.
Dunwich was at one point a major town/market place in this point in East Anglia, but coastal erosion over the years has reduced it to an insignificant village.
x
1740
(Annual)
C

Notably cold by the CET series: coldest by some margin for the year as a whole. CET
January 1741

S Heavy thunderstorm with hail on the 25th January in London.
25th: Violent WSW gale in Scotland: widespread damage to buildings.
6, 8
June – September 1741 H D
Prolonged heat/drought set in around 12th June and lasted until 2nd September, whence general rainfall. Autumn noted as particularly warm. 6
1741: autumn & early winter


Foggy from 26th August to 1st September; very foggy from 27th November to 6th December. (all presumably London/South). 8
1742
(December)
C

Severe frost for about 3 weeks in December; much ice in the Thames. 8
1743

S Great gale in London on 3rd February.
Gale on 27th April held the King (George II) up at Sheerness.
Hailstones as big as nutmegs at Enfield on the 15th July.
8
1743 (autumn)


Rather foggy September & October (London/South). 8
1744


April: Maximum temperature for the month 75degF (24 degC) on the 21st April. [London ??]
August: Violent thunderstorm on 14th August (London).
8
1745
W
A wet summer (London).
Gales from 18th to 20th November (OSP)(London/South?).
8
1746 January


Freezing fog 3rd to 6th & 11th to 16th January; Thick fog on 13th & 14th January (London/South). 8
1746 H

Hottest day on 18th July – temperature in shade 85 degF (29 degC) [London??] 8
1747: (August) H

The summer of 1747 became progressively warmer, with July circa +1C above average; however, the August was notably warm, with a CET value of 18.3degC (+2.7C on all-series average), and in the ‘top-10’ of warmest Augusts in that series. CET
1747
W
Thames in flood (no details as yet). 8
Summer 1748 H

Hot days in June & July; temperature at 1 pm on 23rd July was 85 degF (29degC). [London??]
12th June 1748: Large hailstones, about 2 inches (50mm) in diameter, did considerable damage to windows and gardens during a thunderstorm.
8
1748 C

Severe frost 11th to 14th November (London/South). 8
1749 H D
A dry summer. Shade temperature at about mid-day on 2nd July was 88 degF (31degC) [London ??] 8
1749 C

Sharp frost on 15th November (London/South). 8




1750 – 1799
1750
W
A very thundery year, with severe thunderstorms & hail causing flooding on the 11th & 24th July in this year. 8
1751-1760
(10 years)

W
In England, the summers of this period were the wettest in a record that began in 1697. These 10 wet summers in a row produced an overall anomaly of 127% of the modern-era mean.
1751 in particular is regarded as a notably wet year, at least in the London/SE region. It included a wet March, a wet first two-thirds of May and some severe thunderstorms & flooding in November.
The 1752 summer (London/SE) was noted as ‘cool & damp’.
More wet summers for London/SE in 1755, 1756 & 1758.
1,
8
1751
W
A wet year. A wet March with continual rain from the 1st to 11th. Heavy rain during the first 18 days of May. Thunderstorm with snow/hail caused flooding on the 21st November. (all London). 8
26th February 1751

S This severe gale affected most of the southern half of the country and destroyed a number of ships in the Thames. 8
1752-1840’s


According to Lamb, this period (though with a ‘lull’ from 1783-1802) was “extraordinary for the frequency of explosive volcanic eruptions, which maintained dust veils high in the atmosphere & may have contributed (perhaps significantly) to the reversal of what otherwise would have been a noted climatic recovery from the late 1600’s onwards. Some of the more notable events were:
(a): 1783 – Iceland, Japan.
(b): 1812 – St. Vincent, West Indies & Awu, Celebes.
(c): 1814 – Philippines.
(d): 1815 – Tambora, East Indies. (Lamb/CHMW) Optical effects recorded by observers of the time, along with some famous ‘sunsets’ in paintings by such as Turner.
[ see details against the particular years – where available. ]
1
20th July 1752

S A whirlwind associated with a thunderstorm lifted two boats several feet (3 feet ~ = 1 metre) out of the Thames at Vauxhall and smashed one of them to pieces on the river bank. It is claimed (?) that this was the only thunderstorm in London during this year. A cool, damp summer. 8
October 1752 H D
Dry & warm (London/South). 8
1753
W
Whitehall flooded on the 22nd March. (Storm-surge?) 8
1755
(mid/late Winter – early/mid Spring)
C

Odd sequence overall – generally cold, but with an anomalously warm April sandwiched in amongst the chill! The year 1755 was cold, with an anomaly of (minus)0.7C for the year. January (-1.0C), February (-2.6) & March (-1.3) were all notably cold, but April tried to correct this, promising a fine Spring. The CET figure for that month was 10.0 (+2.1C), and placed this April just outside the warmest 10 such-named months in the entire series. However, the promise failed, as May turned cold again, and ended up with an anomaly of -1.8C. CET
1755, 1756 & 1758
W
All wet summers in the London area. More generally, April of 1756 was notably wet by the EWP series: amongst the top 3 such-named months. (See also 1782 and 1818). 8, EWP
1757: (July) H

A notably warm month by the CET record (starts 1659). The value of 18.4degC is roughly +2.5C on the all-series average, and placed it in the ‘top-10’ Julys in terms of warmth. The other ‘summer’ months were nothing special though; indeed, August 1757 was on the ‘chilly’ side, with a negative anomaly using the CET series. CET
1758
(Summer)

W
A wet summer across England & Wales. The anomaly is given by Lamb (in CHMW) as 143% of LTA (1916-1950). 1
December 1758


Thick fog on 2nd and 3rd December (London/South). 8
January 1759
D
Exceptionally dry month over England & Wales. x
1762
W
Great flood in the Thames valley (.. date not given). 8
1762 (late spring/early summer) H D
Fine, warm or very warm weather – prolonged from April to July. In the CET series (began 1659), it was in the top 10 to 15 summers (June, July & August) by that measure. CET
October 1762 C

Snow on 28th October (London/South). 8
December / January 1762/63 C

January 1763 was a bitterly cold month. There was an intense frost from Christmas Day, 1762 until the end of January (?London/South)(LW), often accompanied by an easterly wind – which implies a Greenland / Scandinavian anticyclonic-blocking episode. The CET value was -0.8degC, some 4C below the approximate ‘all-series’ mean. 8,
CET
1763-1772
(Summers)

W
These years experienced wet summers, with an average for the period of 117% 1
1763
(Summer)

W D A very wet summer across England & Wales. The anomaly is given by Lamb (in CHMW) as 181% of LTA (1916-1950), and he ranks it as the second wettest in the rain-gauge record.
However, note that across Scotland, there are reports of a ‘Great drought’ during the summer of 1763 & differences north-to-south like this are quite common occurrences.
1
1763
W
Thames flooded (.. date & type not given, but given the wet summer noted above, possibly a fluvial event autumn / winter?). 8
June 1764
W S 18th: Severe thunderstorms: lightning destroyed churches & naval ship. (Helped to hasten introduction/installation/acceptance of lightning rods on tall buildings). A wet summer. 6, 8
1765
D
A dry summer (London/South). 8
1765


Foggy 21st to 26th August (London/South). 8
Winter 1765/66 C D
Severe winter [ November to February ]. Using the CET series, each of these months had an anomaly exceeding -2C, with December & January values nearer -2.5C (wrt all-series mean).
The driest January in the EWP series (which starts in this month/year), at 4.4mm. (see also … 1740).( Also, the third driest any-month in the series. )
8, EWP,
CET
1766-1768
(Three consecutive cold Januarys)
C

As an additional note to that above (q.v.), the Januarys of 1766, 1767 & 1768 were all bitterly cold, with anomalies (using the CET series) much greater than -2C, and that of 1767, with a CET of 0.1degC had an all-series anomaly of -3.1C. CET
Summers of 1766 & 1767
W
Both years had wet summers. 8
start 1767 & start 1768 C

Both these years commenced with severe frosts which were described as comparable with the intensity of frosts of 1739/40. [ see also below ] 8
May 1767 C

Snow on 5th May (London/South). 8
September 1767


Foggy 19th – 25th September; thick fog on 20th & 21st September. 8
December 1767 – January 1768 C

Severe cold spell set in from roughly mid-December 1767 and lasted until beginning of the second week of January, 1768. Gilbert White (Selborne) writes: .. “the most severe known for many years – much damage to ever-greens”. [This latter comment perhaps implies that as well as very low temperatures, there was a considerable ‘wind-burn’ effect.]
During last few days of December 1767, ‘considerable’ falls of snow at Selborne (NE Hampshire). Bitterly cold spell second half of December 1767. Further snowfall in the opening days of January 1768. Some very low temperatures – daytime maxima no higher than 18 or 19 degF (circa -7degC) in some places.
Severe frost and deep snow (London/South).
8, White
1768
(February)

W
Snow-melt & rain event overtopped banks (of the River Aire) in Leeds (W. Yorkshire). The EWP value (representing an areal average across England & Wales) for that month showed nearly twice the ‘all-series’ value for that month, following a slightly-above average precipitation value for January. Following-on the remarks under January (above), I think we can assume that snowfall during January around and above Leeds (across the Pennine headwaters of the Aire) must have been considerable. [The year 1768 is the second-wettest year in the EWP series – see below]. EWP
June
(& summer) 1768

W
7th: Beginning of wettest part of a record wet summer in England. Rain on at least 36 days out of the next 44; thundery. On 11th/12th June, a “two day deluge”.
A wet summer across England & Wales. Lamb (in CHMW) gives the anomaly as 164% of LTA (1916-1950), and he ranked it as the sixth wettest in the rain-gauge record. [See also the comment against September/below]
1, 6, EWP
1768
(September)

W
Heavy rain at Bruton, Somerset led to severe flooding in the area on the 1st. The river rose very rapidly, completely destroying one of the stones bridges, with the force of water causing the breaking of house windows in the nearby village of Pitcombe. According to contemporary reports, a localised ‘violent’ storm (presumably adding to already high water levels – see below), caused the River Brue to “swell three feet perpendicular within 5 minutes”, resulting in the severe flooding of numerous houses, destruction of the town bridge and demolition of walls throughout Bruton. (1768 was a notably wet year – see below: the immediately preceding summer 1768 [ JJA ], was also wet using the EWP series, with June 1768 the second wettest June in the series, and the summer anomaly averaging out at over 175% of long-term). EWP
December 1768
W
A report of the London-Exeter coach being carried away by a flood on the Thames near Staines (? 1st) with the loss of all 6 passengers & four horses. 8
1768
W
The second wettest year in the EWP series (as at 2006), with 1247mm of rain. See also 1872, 1852, 1960 & 2000.
A notably wet year in London. A wet summer but the heaviest rain fell in the autumn. Major flooding along the River Thames during December.
8, EWP
1769


Foggy 10th to 13th October (London/South). 8
1770
(February)


S Wind-driven storm caused much wave-damage at Porlock & Watchet (Bristol Channel coast, Somerset). x
1770
(Spring)
C

With a CET averaged over the three months of March, April & May 1770 of 5.97degC, this Spring was technically the second-coldest such-named season in that record (but for all intents, equal with 1695 given the approximations involved in the earlier part of the series). (See also 1695 & 1837)
SNOW on 2nd to 4th May (London/South).
8,
CET
1770
(August)

W
The storms / floods affecting many parts of the south of England from the 6th onwards (& parts of SE Wales) were notable. Severe thunderstorms broke out in west Cornwall on the 6th – extending across much of Cornwall, Devon & the West of England by the end of the 7th. A great flood occurred at Lynmouth (North Devon) – on a par with the event of August, 1952. The notably stormy weather, with high-intensity rainfall events, lightning / hail damage, violent thunder etc., extended across most southern areas by the 12th August. Deaths, both stock & humans were reported. Much loss of crops. (NB: the EWP value for this month was nothing special). x
1770
(November)

W
1. Second wettest November in the EWP series (began in 1766). Total rainfall was 201mm, not far short of the record for November of 203mm set in 1852.[ One of only three months (any month that is) in the record to reach or exceed 200mm, the others being October, 1903 and November, 1852 ]. In Worcester, on the River Severn, there was a ‘very great flood’, with the waters 10 inches higher than the flood of 1672 (q.v.) EWP
1771
(February & May)

W
Foggy 18th – 24th February; thick fog 3rd, 11th & 12th May (London/South).
A wet summer.
8
1771
(March)
C

25th March: (Lady Day) – In Margate (Kent), the snow was drifted above 6 ft (~2m) with temperatures below 0degC. x
November 1771
W
6th: Heavy rain & floods at Kings Lynn.
16th: Heavy rains flooded the rivers Tyne, Wear and Tees, washing away most bridges.
6
1772 H D
A dry warm summer (London/South). 8
1773
(late Spring & Summer)

W
Based on records from Lambeth (London/south of the River), May, July & August were all part of a wet summer for the capital & surrounding areas. May in particular experienced over 180% of the contemporary average, and August, which was the second-wettest month of that year, had 3.96ins / 100mm, representing ~160% of the mean. 8
Summer to early September 1773
D
2nd September: First rain in N. Scotland after long/dry summer with waterfalls dried out. However note that in LW, summer 1773 is noted as ‘wet’ – not unusual for this ‘upside-down’ precipitation pattern though.
7th September: Very wet & stormy in NW Scotland & Hebrides: autumn continued rainy until 3rd November. 20th September: Rain/gales in Hebrides.
6, 8
1773/1774 (autumn+winter+early spring):
W
September 1773 to February 1774: By EWP series, and relating to the 1961-1990 average, all months were above average; total rainfall this period=688mm [ average=508mm ], which represents 135%. None of the months exceptionally wet but enough prolonged rainfall to cause significant problems in the early Spring of 1774. EWP
March 1774
W
12th(NSP): Henley bridge (Berkshire / Oxfordshire border) destroyed by flood waters – partly tidal (!) though primarily due to heavy rainfall/fluvial drainage. This flood was the highest on record at Teddington, and more generally the worst flood of the 18th century along the Thames Valley. The sequence of events (a deep/penetrating frost leading to frozen ground, some heavy snow, then a rapid thaw accompanied by heavy rain) led to the flooding (and remember the sub-soil was already saturated after the sustained rainfall since the previous autumn. 12th March was the nominal high point of the Thames flood. Elsewhere, 50 acres of land destroyed by a landslip at Selbourne (Hants). At Mapledurham, (between Pangbourne & Reading), recent estimates are that the flood level at this point was 0.6m / 2ft above the level of the major inundation of 1894 (q.v.)
8
1775-1784
(Summers)
H W
Another in the 18th century series of wet summers (see also 1751-1760 & 1763-1772). The anomaly for these years is given by Lamb as 115%. This set of summers were also warm. 1,
CET
1775
(late spring – early summer)
H

Fine, warm weather prolonged through April, May and June. Very heavy thunderstorm with hail (in London) on the 30th. 8
1775
(Summer)

W
A wet summer across England & Wales. Lamb (in CHMW) gives the anomaly as 144% of LTA (1916-1950). In fact, the anomaly was concentrated into July & August (well over twice average rainfall taking the two months together), whereas June was largely dry (see above). The wet ‘high summer’ months were followed by a wet autumn, and the anomaly July to November~160% of LTA. 1, EWP
1776 (January – February) C
S 1775/76: Severe winter; Severe cold weather much of Europe 9th Jan to 2nd Feb: Thames frozen for some time; intensely stormy cyclonic February followed.
January: A widespread and often severe frost for a large part of the month. Also snow. (The ‘Great Frost‘ from accounts by Gilbert White). The month overall almost as cold as the record cold January of 1963. A severe/prolonged cold spell. There were interludes of mild/melting, but snowfall was often considerable, with frequent drifting. Considerably low temperatures over the snow-cover during the second half of the month. Minima recorded at South Lambeth were reported as 11, 7, 6 and 6degF on the nights of 28th to the 31st. (in degC down to about -14degC.). At Selborne (NE Hampshire), the figures for the same nights were: 7, 6, 10 and 0 degF, the 0degF converts to -18degC. These low values were often accompanied by fog, and some reports suggest temperatures as low as -4 deg Fahrenheit at Chatham and -11deg Fahrenheit at Maidstone, both Kent. Obviously daytime temperatures were very low, with sub-zero values persistent.
By the CET series, this January is in the ‘top-10’ of cold such-named months in that dataset, which runs from 1659.
(A sudden thaw/milder weather evening 1st February.)
6, White, CET
October – December 1776


Fog on 14 days in October, 11 days in November and 18days in December (London/South). 8
1778 – 1800 H D
Dry years frequent in London area over these years. The following are picked out as ‘noteworthy’: 1780, 1781, 1788, 1795 & 1796. Includes four warm summers (1778**, 1780, 1781 & 1783). [ ** contains a wet July!]
[ However, note also that this period contained some notably wet years/summers! ]
8
1779 (January to March) H D
The first three months of this year were exceptionally dry by the EWP series. January 1779 was the 3rd driest January in that series, February 8th driest, and March 7th driest. In all, under 20% of the average rainfall was assessed by the EWP set.
Exceptionally warm February in particular: by the CET series, the warmest February in that series with a value of 7.9degC. March was in the ‘top-10’ of warmest such named months. Also ‘fine, warm and mild’ in Scotland. [ NB: the winter 1778/79 was also mild, which is unusual, because we (early 21st century) have become used to mild winters/early springs being associated with wet seasons.]
CET, EWP
1779
(late Summer/early Autumn)
H

Warm, or very warm through July, August and September,but see note below & elsewhere.
Lambeth recorded 6.5 inches of rain (~165mm) in July 1779; this is a considerable amount above the local average – something around 275%.(LW) Using the wider EWP series, the total was 149mm (roughly 250% of the mean), and it just comes into the ‘top-10’ of wettest Julys in that series: the rainfall was obviously excessive over a wider area of England & Wales.
8,
EWP
1779
W
After the notably dry start (see above), it turned out to be a rather wet year, with a wet summer (see above) – though LW notes the August as being ‘fine & warm’. 8
1779/80
(Winter)
C

Severe winter (London/South).
Coldest winter in the series 1764/65 to 1962/63 at Edinburgh, Scotland.
Using the CET series for lowland England, the anomaly for the three ‘standard’ winter months of December, January & February was -2.3C on the all-series mean. January 1780 was particularly cold with a CET value of -0.9degC (-4C anomaly).
8,
CET
1780: (Annual) H D
A notably dry year by the EWP series – in the ‘top-5’ by that measure (at 2002). (See also 1788, 1854, 1887 & 1921);
a dry/warm summer (London/South).
Fog on 10 days in August (London/South).
8, EWP
1781 H D
Heavy thunderstorm on 17th February.
1781: (March): An exceptionally dry month in the EWP series. 5.6mm of rain credited, the driest March in the series, and in the ‘top 5’ driest *any-month* in that series. Coming after a notably dry year (1780/q.v.) and a dry winter, the lack of rainfall during this ‘sowing-out’ month must have hit agriculture hard.
A dry year; a notably warm summer (London/South & more generally across England & Wales). Remarkably warm by the CET series June, July & August.
8, EWP, CET
1781
(Summer)
C D
In Scotland, (in contrast to note above), the summer was cold & dry: grass & corn failed to grow properly. 1
1782
(February & March)
C

Aberdeenshire: snow began to fall in earnest on 1st February, with a ‘good deep storm on the ground’ by the 8th. The snow continued to fall thereafter, with hard frosts, so that by the 14th February, ‘it was computed 8 inches over all (circa 20cm). The hard, persistent frost was also noted at Forres, Morayshire – here it is said to have began on the 1st February & continued for 8 weeks, i.e. throughout March.
By the 1st March, much of the earlier snow in Scotland had disappeared from the lowlands, but with plenty remaining on the hills. Mixed weather came to an end on the 10th, with a return of widespread snow to north and south of Scotland alike. On the 11th, it is reported that there was a ‘great’ fall of snow, which continued at least 12 hours. Aberdeenshire again badly affected, with snow recorded every day between the 12th & 28th. Snowfall, with depths of between 2 and 3ft [~ 1m ] also noted at Forres, Morayshire.
x
1782
(April & May)
C W
Wettest such pair of months in the EWP series. Total=281mm. (see also 1983 & 2000). In particular, April was the wettest such-named month in the EWP series (until 2000 q.v.). 112.5mm recorded for this month in Oxford (Radcliffe Observatory?).
6th April (Scotland): A late ‘storm’ of snow in the West Highlands proving fatal for large numbers of sheep. Heavy snow was also noted from Northamptonshire [English east Midlands] during April.
EWP
1782
(Annual & individual)

W
A wet year with a wet summer (in London). The equal 10th wettest year in the EWP series, with 1109mm (= with 1789). Amongst the wet months that year were: January, April (139mm/wettest April in series), May (142mm/2nd wettest May in series), July, August (151mm/6th wettest August in series) and September.
1782: (January): Three floods in 10 days noted at Forres, Morayshire.
April & May: wettest such pair of months in the EWP series. Total=281mm. (see also 1983 & 2000)
In Scotland, for the second year in a row, the season was ‘cold & backward’ such that unripened corn was buried by the snow that fell in October.
1, 6, 8, EWP
1782
(September
& October)
C

A great fall of snow across NE Scotland (” the black aughty-twa “) on September 15th & again on October 31st – oat crops ruined and it was Christmas before the crop was cut – and even then it was only fit for cattle feed. The resultant dearth of food led the Duke of Gordon to give his tenants a rebate on rents, or extended time to pay them. 1
Summer 1783 to late winter 1783/84


Icelandic volcanic eruption (Laki): Primary eruptions (five) from June 8th to July 8th, 1783 (60% of the total volume of ejection), but minor eruptions occurred until early February, 1784. A major event, with huge production of sulphur & acid products, as well as the largest production of lava in recorded history. The majority of emissions are thought to have been confined to the troposphere, but the initial ejections of each of the five major events did penetrate the tropopause and entered the stratosphere. The intense period of eruption tallied with contemporary reports across Europe of a blue haze or dry-fog in the atmosphere, damage to vegetation and occurrence of respiratory problems (later analysis suggests that the mortality due to the sulphur-based haze was counted in tens of thousands dead): the effects noted at the time throughout summer & autumn. These effects are consistent with increased atmospheric loading of acid aerosols, particularly sulphates. Because of the (suspected) lack of major stratospheric impact, there is controversy surrounding this event: For Iceland itself, the following winter (1783/84) was known as the ‘Famine Winter’: 25% of the population died (many from wet and dry deposition of acidic pollutants). Note, there is still some argument as to whether this led to changes to the regional/European climate in the years 1783, 1784 etc., and / or by how much. (var, VOLC)
late Winter / early Spring 1783/1784 C

January to April 1784 … notably cold, and persistently so by CET series. In particular, the winter (1783 December – 1784 February) CET=1.2degC, some 2.5C below the all-series average. The Thames was completely frozen in February and traffic crossed on the ice.(LW)
(NB: the following winter/1784-85 was also about 1degC colder than average. This has been attributed to the Laki eruption event but there is some doubt about this – see above.)
2nd/3rd January: Scotland – a severe snowstorm affecting at least the Aberdeen area, with much drifting. Reports from Edinburgh suggest that widespread bad conditions occurred elsewhere.
CET,
8
Summer 1783 H D
1. Hot dry weather set in during June after continual rains. The fine weather was marred until 20th July or later by persistent thick smoky haze and pall, apparently from an Iceland volcano [ see above ]. Overall though, noted as a ‘warm’ summer (London/South).
2. July 1783 was a notably warm month (in the CET series), not only for July but for any summer month. The value of 18.8degC represents an anomaly of +2.9C over the all-series mean, placing it second warmest in the July lists, and also making it the fourth warmest any named month in that series (which starts in 1659.) [ The other summer months, June and August, were above-average, but by half-a-degree or less, so nothing special. ]
3. A ‘high-summer’ noteworthy for it’s thunderstorm activity. There is a possible link with the high pollution (atmospheric aerosols) due to the ‘Laki’ eruption.
6, 8, CET
1783 (autumn)


Foggy 26th September to 6th October (London/South). 8
1783/84 & 1784/85
(winters)
C

Two successive severe winters occurred in these years; in both winters the Thames was completely frozen for a short period, with navigation affected for much longer periods. In 1783/84, almost continuous frost from late December 1783 to late February 1784. In 1784/85, frost/snow from early December 1784 to early January 1785, most of February and during the first half of March.
Regarding the winter of 1785/85 in particular, in East Anglia (& more widely), the ‘winter’ season was regarded as extending from the first fall of snow in October (7th) to that which fell on April 4th. The whole period (apart from 12 days in January) had been frosty. Reports from southern Scotland also make mention of ‘remarkable’ snow & drifts during the winter, with the Spring notably frosty. Other reports from London & the south (LW) note a ‘severe winter’. Frost & snow from early December to early January, most of February and during the first half of March. The Thames frozen solid at times and traffic crossed on the ice.
[ This has been attributed to the Laki eruption event but there is some doubt about this – see above.]
8
1784-1786 C

Three successive cold years; heavy snow fell on the 25th October 1784 and there was snow on the 26th & 29th October 1785. 8
1784
(Annual & Summer)
C W
In this cold year (in the ‘top-10 coldest years in the CET record – see below), the summer was wet in London/South; sleet observed near coast of the Moray Firth in August & heavy snow (?London) on the 25th October.
1784 was a notably cold year; with a CET value of 7.8degC, this year falls within the ‘top-10’ of coldest years in this series (since 1659), and is approximately 2C below the modern-day average. In particular, the summer was consistently chilly. Each summer month (JJA) had a CET anomaly of at least (minus)0.5C, and August had an anomaly of -1.6C on the whole-series mean.
(The 1780‘s were one of the coldest decades in the CET series & this year was the coldest within those 10 years. There was a notable sequence of three cold years, 1784-1786, where the annual mean for each year was over 1C below the modern-day average.)
6, 8, CET
January 1785 C

Over Scotland, around the middle two weeks of January, some severe snowstorms, followed by prolonged frosts – lasting into May in some areas. (Not necessarily continuous though!) x
1784 December to 1785 June
D
Notably dry during this period. Less than 50% of the average rainfall over these 7 months, and includes the exceptionally dry months of March 1785 (19mm) and April 1785 (10mm/6th driest April in the series). Great distress to Agriculture by the spring / early summer 1785, with spring-sowing failing due to lack of moisture & cattle having to be either killed or fed on sub-standard supplies. [ The drought even more severe in France. ]
x
1785 (March) C

Very cold: CET=1.2 degC, the second coldest March in the series. CET
1785: (Annual) C D
One of the driest years across England & Wales (using the EWP series) – into the ‘top-10’ using that measure.
Cold year: snow on the 26th & 29th October (?London).
8, EWP
November 1785

S 1st: Tornado damage in Nottinghamshire. 6
1786 C D
A cold year: A dry summer (London/South). September to November: persistently cold weather by CET series. 8
1786/87 (winter) H
S Notaby mild in Scotland. (Severe/cold winters were common at this time – so quite unusual). December was wet & stormy according to an Aberdeen paper, without much frost/snow. The remarkably mild weather affected much of January – temperatures by day in Kelso for example rising to 5 to 10 degC from late December until mid-January. February also noted as being without ‘harsh’ weather. x
1788
D
A dry year (London/South). The driest year in the EWP series with 612mm of rain; this represents roughly two-thirds of the all-series mean. [Other dry years: 1921 & 1887 q.v.]. Includes the driest December in the EWP series, with a value of just 9 mm averaged over England & Wales. From records in the London area (quoted in ‘London Weather’), both South Lambeth and Somerset House failed to record any rain during December. 8, EWP
June 1788
W
28th: probably the wettest day ever recorded in Suffolk. 6
1788/89
(winter)
C

30th November 1788 – earliest known case of a long unbroken frost began on this date, lasting until early January 1789. Although the winter overall didn’t stand out as regards severity, December, and to a lesser extent January, were bitterly cold. The CET value for December 1788 was -0.3degC, some 4.4C below the ‘all-series’ mean for that month, and for January 1789, the value of 1.5degC was nearly 2C below the ‘all-series’ mean. December 1788 in particular is comfortably in the ‘top-5’ of coldest Decembers in the CET series. The Thames was completely frozen during this severe winter (implying a persistence of sub-zero temperatures) and a frost fair was held on the river, with the usual reports of sports / pastimes etc. “Deep snow” is noted in contemporary reports, diaries etc. (In the London area, the ‘hard frost’ is noted as having lasted from the 25th November, 1788 to the 14th January, 1789.(LW)
The combination of the extreme drought of 1788 (q.v.) & the bitter, frosty conditions, meant that water was in very short supply in the winter of 1788/89; much ‘profiteering’ as small quantities of water were sold for high prices.
6, 8, usw, CET
1789
W
A wet summer (in London). Probably the 10th wettest year (equal with 1782) in the EWP series: in particular, May to July of that year was a particularly wet period, with a total rainfall for those three months of around 350mm (EWP), representing roughly 180% of the mean. This was of course in marked contrast to the previous (notably dry) year – see 1788. 8,
EWP
1789/90 (winter) H

Very mild winter in Scotland. December 1789 began with mild, dry weather from the south-west followed by a mixture of frost and ‘fresh’ days, with some snow about. Frost at the beginning of January was certainly hard enough to stop ploughing, but fine, fresh weather returned from the south on 6th January and continued for the next three weeks. February continued in similar vein, with winds generally from the southwest.
(However, winter ‘arrived’ in April, with severe frosts and frequent snowfall; (see below.)
[ Also a mild winter England & Wales, with an anomaly for the three ‘winter’ months of +2C.]
x, CET
1790 (January)


Fog on 22 days in January (London/South). 8
1790 (April) C

After a notably mild winter (see above), ‘winter’ weather set in with a vengeance in Scotland. Intense cold with frequent hail / snow, with snowfall in the hills more like January than April. Great deal of snow on the 12th with intense cold. Similar on the 15th, with further snowfall in Scotland. The CET value was 6.1degC, around 1.8C below the all-series mean; this month was colder than February or March this year. CET
1790 (June) H

Temperature of 91degF (33 degC) on 22nd June (London??) 8
1790 (December)


December 23rd: a severe storm of rain, hail & thunder with very vivid and long flashes of lightning. It extended (reportedly) over the greater part of England & Ireland. Much damage was done to shipping and to houses in London, Windsor, Colchester etc. x
1791
(February)


S February 2nd, a notably high tide accompanied by high winds led to flooding down many east English coastal areas. Specifically, we have notes of flooding in Westminster (‘Lawyers were ferry’d into Westminster Hall’), Ipswich, and other coastal areas of Lincolnshire, East Anglia & Kent. (LW/Earl Soham). 8
1791 (June) C

On the 12th June 1791 (also the 2nd June 1975), snow fell in London (and elsewhere across southern England), but melted off almost immediately. [With these older reports, we always have to consider the possibility of mis-reporting soft hail etc. June 1791 is not noted as being a particularly cold month – indeed, by the CET series, it was slightly above average as far as the all-month temperature goes. However, in that other famous example, 2nd June, 1975, the cold start, with snow, turned rapidly to a fine, warm type thereafter q.v.] x
1792 (summer)
W
A wet summer (in London). 8
1792 (December)
S
Notable storm 10th – 12th December. Lamb / Wheeler
1792
(Annual)

W
This was a wet year (~120% of long-term average), with a particularly wet spell from July to September, the latter month being 9th in the ‘wettest’ list (for Septembers) in the EWP. EWP
1793
D
A dry summer (London/South). 8
January 1794 C

A ‘remarkable’ snowstorm swept the southwest of Scotland beginning on the 23rd January 1794. It came to be known locally as the ‘Gonial Blast‘ because of the extraordinary number of sheep that were killed. [gonial/goniel=mutton of sheep]{‘Weather’:Vol49/p415,416}
The following is a report written after the event: ” there is a place called the Beds of Esk, where the tide throws out and leaves whatever is carried into it by the rivers. When the flood after the storm subsided, there was found on that place and shores adjacent, one thousand eight hundred and forty sheep, nine black cattle, three horses, two men, one woman, forty-five dogs and one hundred and eighty hares, beside a number of meaner animals.”
x
1794 (summer) H D
A dry, warm summer (London/South). 8
1794
(Autumn)

W
A very wet season over England & Wales (by the EWP series): The anomaly over the three months September, October & November was ~140%. In Norwich specifically, ‘excessive rains in September, October & November occasioned a flood of the lower parts of the city; boats were rowed in several streets, and the water was from 2 to 3 feet deep in many houses. EWP
1794/95 (winter & early spring) C

The winter of 1794/95 was exceptionally severe, with the very cold conditions setting in on Christmas Eve 1794 (though it had been cold since November). The frost then lasted, with some breaks, until late March. The cold was most intense during January, with resulted in the coldest January (and the coldest ‘any-month’) in the instrumental era (as assessed by CET measure/series begins 1659). The February value of 0.8degC was 3.0C below the long-term mean. On the 23rd, the Severn was frozen and so was the Thames, with the usual ‘frost fairs’ being set up there. On the 25th January, an extreme temperature of (minus) 21 degC (converted from degF) was recorded at an unspecified location in England, though some references give this as ‘London'(**).
A rapid but temporary thaw, accompanied by heavy rain began on the 7th February(##). This resulted in much flooding across large areas of (at least) England – extensive damage to bridges. The severe cold returned after February 12th, and (as noted above), continued well into March. Snow was noted on several occasions between 13th February & 2nd March at Syon House, then a highly rural location on the north (Middlesex) shore of the Thames, opposite Kew Gardens. The snow events were accompanied by ‘easterly’ winds & anticyclonic type positioned to the north.
In Scotland, it was the seventh coldest winter at Edinburgh in the series 1764/65 – 1962/63. {coldest 1779/80} Frequent heavy snowfall reported from many places in Scotland during January 1795, with transport severely disrupted.
**[There are considerable doubts surrounding the exact value here; one interpretation of the original value is that it represented -38degF, representing -39degC. This would be extreme indeed, and given that temperatures were often read inside unheated rooms at this time, and that the likely location was London (albeit a fraction of it’s current size), -39degC is in my view far too low.]
##The problem was one of melting snow plus heavy rain, on top of frozen ground (which takes some time to thaw out after an extended very cold winter), coupled to a wet previous autumn: the autumn of 1794 averaged over England & Wales had around 140-150% of ‘normal’ rainfall, with much of the excess ‘locked up’ in the ground by early severe frosts from November onwards. There are many contemporary reports of buildings of ‘every description’ being swept away; bridges, canals, turnpikes etc., being rendered unusable. Many lives lost. Even some of the ‘great’ country houses of the land were ‘mid-leg deep in Water’, with tales of people passing from room to room in boats.
6, 8, CET
February 1795


Thames flood in mid-February (in London). 8
April & May 1795 C W
April brought significant flooding after the snow of the winter (see above), and May brought more snow. On the 15th May (calendar uncertain), snow lay about a foot (30cm) deep in Aberdeenshire, and thick layers of ice covered the rivers. x
1795
(September)
H D
A remarkable September! It was both one of the wrmest Septembers on record, with a CET value of 16.0 degC (nearly 3C above the all-series mean), and in the ‘top-5’ of warmest such-named months. It was also very dry with an EWP value of just 13 mm, placing it also in the ‘top-5’ of dry such-named months. Indeed, at Somerset House (London), only 0.08 ins of rain was recorded, or roughly 2 mm. CET,
EWP,8
1795 H D
A dry year; Hot & dry in September (London/South). 8
1795/96 (winter) H

One of the warmest winters (by CET) in the series which began in 1659. Up to 1997, rank=7 Value=6.20; Dec=6.6, Jan=7.3, Feb=4.7 (Others: 1686, 1734, 1834, 1869, 1935, 1975, 1989 and 1990.) CET
1796
D
A dry year; a dry summer (London/South). 8
December 1796 C

Very severe frost in London on the 25th: -21degC in Marylebone, -19degC in Mayfair. Thames frozen.
Although the winter overall did not stand out as regards low temperatures, December in particular, using the CET record, was amongst the five coldest such-named months in that record (since 1659), and included a bitterly cold spell around Christmas. The temperature in London on Christmas Eve was noted as ~(minus)21degC, and Christmas Day was intensely cold, with the Thames frozen.
6, 8, CET
1796/97 (winter)

S A notably stormy season. x
1797
W
Fog daily 16th – 28th February (London/South).
A wet summer (in London). A rather wet summer generally across England & Wales. According to Lamb (in CHMW), the anomaly was 140% of LTA (1916-1950).
1, 8
1798 (late spring) H

Persistently warm weather through April, May and June by CET series. CET
1798/99
(Winter)
C

Severe frost late December to early January (London/South).
Frequent, heavy snowfalls affecting at least eastern and central Scotland, from last third of December onwards. Much transport dislocation in late 1798, and again from late January 1799 onwards. (No details for elsewhere in the UK.)
A notably severe winter over western Europe / implied much of Britain (Easton, in CHMW/Lamb).
Early February, 1799 (probably 1st to 3rd), an Edinburgh paper noted that ‘these 3 days past, intense frost, accompanied by heavy snow, with a strong gale from the NE. All communication with the country (Scotland) will be interrupted.’ Similar story from Aberdeen for these days, there reporting snow ‘for eight days past’ i.e. from late January. A ‘strong gale’ from the NE caused much drifting. Later, on the 7th, a great fall of snow interrupted communications, and a ‘great storm of snow’ in the Edinburgh area on the night of the 8th is reported: newspapers on the 9th confirmed the extreme effects from as far north as Banff. Road completely blocked by blowing snow.
1, 8
1799 (spring) C

March to May: persistently cold weather by CET series. In particular, the CET value for March (3.4degC) and April (5.4degC) were some 2 to 2.5 degC below average. From records in Devon (Moretonhampstead), winds were often from between north and east. Snow also often noted. From records in Kendal (Westmorland / Cumbria), we have . . “No vegetation in the fields, nor blossoms upon the fruit trees, on the 7th May, 1799. The skins of upwards of 10,000 lambs, which perished in the spring, were sold in this town. The weather was cold and wet all through the year.” CET,
CUMB
June 1799 C W
22nd June: beginning of long rainy spell: only 8 days without rain in a spell lasting until 17th November.
June 23rd: snowstorm, three feet (about 1m) depth in some places in upland areas of NE Scotland.
6
August 1799
W S August 17th: severe southwesterly storm (with heavy rain) affected the West Country. A lot of damage reported from agricultural property (loss of crops etc.), with the Corn crop particularly affected. Fruit also severely ‘blown’. (Local)
1799
(Annual)
C

Looking at the CET record, the year 1799 was within the ‘top-20’ of coldest years in that series [value=7.9/about -1.3C all-series anomaly](starts 1659), and for the 18th century specifically, it was beaten for low temperatures only by 1784 (7.8degC) & 1740 (6.8degC). CET




1800 – 1849
1800-1839
(40 years)

W
These first 40 years of the 19th century often contained references to excessive rainfall, floods etc. Using the EWP series, the following years had precipitation %ages of roughly=/> 110% . . . 1816, 1821, 1824, 1828, 1830, 1831 & 1839. In particular, 1828 & 1839 (~120%) stand out, though even these don’t appear in the ‘top-10’ of wettest years in that series. There is evidence from London-area data that (as might be expected) there were notable regional variations. For example, from the Greenwich series (LW), the wettest years in these four decades did NOT coincide with the EWP set; for London, it appears that 1821 (~140%) and 1824 (~150%) captured the most rainfall, and two years (1817 & 1819), although not ‘notable’ in the England/Wales-wide series, were wet in the London/SE area.
However, as always with such sweeping statements, there were notable exceptions! The following years and / or seasons are noted as being ‘dry’ during these first 40 years of the 19th century:
>1800 – A dry summer.
>1802 – A dry year.
>1807 – A dry year & a dry summer.
>1818 – A long, dry & hot summer. (see below)
>1825 – A dry summer. A notable hot spell in July.
>1826 – A warm summer. (see below)
>1827 – A dry summer.
>1835 – A dry summer.
>1840 – A dry year; a dry summer.
EWP,
8
First 40 yr. of 19th C. C W
Often wet in London, with 8 years wet (1816, 1817, 1819, 1821, 1824, 1828, 1831 & 1839), with 1821 & 1824 being ‘outstandingly’ wet. 10 wet summers noted: just 3 ‘dry’ years in this period noted: 1802, 1807 & 1840.
There were 7 severe winters in this period: 1813/14, 1815/16, 1819/20, 1822/23, 1829/30, 1837/38 & 1840/41. There was a great deal of ice on the Thames during most of these winters, but the ice does not seem to have been strong/thick enough for people to walk from one side to the other.
1809-1819: After a relatively benign period from 1790 (several warm summers & less cold winters), these years saw a return to often harsh winters & unsettled, cold & wet summers. The decade from 1810-1819 was the coldest in England since the 1690’s. Lamb (CHMW) ascribes this reversal to a renewal of volcanic activity. [ It is generally thought that the works of Charles Dickens take the character of the weather from this less than perfect period, e.g. the often-quoted snow / frost in such as ‘A Christmas Carol’ & ‘The Pickwick Papers’.]
1, 8
1800
D
A dry summer (London/South). 8
1802
D
A dry year (London/South). 8
1805
W
A wet summer (in London). 8
1807
D
A dry year; a dry summer (London/South). 8
1807 (December)


Fog daily 17th – 21st December (London/South). 8
1808
(January)


S Northwesterly (?) gale affects east coast of England. Serious flooding East Anglian marshes (significant breach is sea walls), with loss of farming stock and damage to ships, onshore etc. (local)
1808: (February) C
S 12th: Significant snowstorm (heavy snow / high winds) affects East Anglia / East of England fens. Dislocation to movement for “several days”. This was followed in the days after by a ‘very intense frost’. (local)
July 1808 H

1. Notably warm month (using the CET series since 1659). With a value of 18.4degC, it is in the ‘top-10’ of such-named months for warmth. In particular, there was a hot spell from the 12th to the 15th, with a peak around the 13th/14th, when the CET daily temperature (i.e. average of 24hr maximum & minimum) climbed to just over 24degC. Studies since that date have shown that individual day maxima were well above 25degC (possibly to 28degC) in the West of England; up to (almost certainly over) 32degC in London & possibly as high as 34degC in Kingston upon Hull (ER Yorkshire): however caution is required with all these values due to the differing instruments, exposure, accuracy of recording etc. It was undoubtedly a very hot spell though, as deaths (people & animals) from heat exhaustion were recorded, particularly from the agricultural areas in the east and north of England. One report at the time (from farm records in the eastern Fens), says that the temperature in the shade near London was 96 (degF), which converts to just over 35degC: the same reference notes that this spell is the “hottest day ever known in Eng’d … the Hot Sunday in 1790 was only 83 Deg”. [ NB: August 1808 also reasonably warm, with anomaly circa + 1degC. ]
2. 13th: ‘Hot Wednesday’: shade temperatures 33 to 35degC in E. and SE England, 37degC (99degF) reported in Suffolk (exposure & instrument details unknown . . see 1. above).
3. Damaging hailstorm affected counties in SW England afternoon / evening of the 15th (presumably as the hot spell above was breaking down), primarily affecting Dorset, Somerset & Gloucestershire. The storm first hit areas in the Sherborne / Templecombe area late afternoon then moved (or developed) NNW’wards to reach Bristol mid-evening. From reports at the time, the diameter of much of the hail was of the order 11 cm, with much damage being recorded – including injury & death to people in the open. If these reports are correct, then this 1808 hailstorm (according to Colin Clark / ‘Weather’ July 2004), produced the largest hail diameters for Britain known (along with that for 1697).
6, TORRO, CET
1808/09 (Christmas & New Year)


Fog daily 24th December to 2nd January (London/South). Further fog on 7 days later in January. 8
January 1809 C W S A flood occurred, which may have been tidal in the lower reaches of the Thames, carried away bridges at Eton, Deptford and Lewisham. Flooding noted at Windsor. Highest flood level (as at 2003) on the upper River Thames recorded at Shillingford Wharf (47.25m above OD). After a cold / frosty period, during which the ground became thoroughly frozen, rain fell on the 19th January, which itself froze, plus a period of snow. Then on the 24th, what is described as ‘intense’ rainfall, coupled with snowmelt produced a rapid rise in the waters of the Thames over the near-solid surface. A major flood was the result, causing much damage (which may have been aggravated by an above-average high tide in the lower reaches of the Thames), which amongst other things took away the central arch of Wallingford Bridge, part of the old Bridge at Wheatley, and damaged or destroyed bridges downstream, e.g. at Bisham, Eton & Windsor. flood damage also specifically noted at Deptford & Lewisham. Has been dubbed by some: “The Great Thames Flood”. It wasn’t a particularly wet winter, but the combination of snow/frozen ground and high-intensity rainfall was more than poor flood defence schemes (if they existed) could cope with.
26th: SW gale and a rapidly rising temperature in Scotland after a snowstorm ended a severe frost period with easterly winds which began in December 1808.
6, 8
26th April 1809
W
Thames in flood at various points (specifically noted at Windsor). 8
1809 (October)


Fog on 11 days, with thick fog last 3 days (London/South). 8
January 1810


10 days of fog in London. 8
October 1810 C

Fog on 5 days (London/South).
Snow on the 30th (London??).
8
November 1810

S Easterly gale: sea floods around Boston, Lincolnshire. 6
Jan 1811 C

Thames frozen over. 8
May, 1811


Thunderstorms on 9 days in May in the London area. 8
1811 (September)


Fog on 7 days (London/South). 8
March 1812 C
S Snow fell 1 foot (circa 30cm) deep about Edinburgh, followed by drifting in NE gale 21st to 23rd. 6
1812
(Spring, Summer
& Autumn)
C W
1. Spring & Summer 1812 were notably cold. The anomaly for both seasons on the whole-series (CET) mean was around -1.5C, with March, April, June, July & August having anomalies in excess of -1C. April 1812 was unusually cold, with a CET value of 5.5degC (-2.4C) & thus one of the ‘top-dozen’ or so cold such-named months. It was the coldest Spring since 1799, and it was not to as cold again in Spring until 1837, though in this latter year, the summer was warm. By contrast, 1812 experienced one of the coldest summers across England & Wales using the CET series (began 1659).
2. In addition to the extended cold, rainfall was often excessive. The months of February & March 1812 experienced EWP anomalies of 177% & 150% respectively, which with the cold ground, would have had a severe effect on the germination of crops sown, or about to be sown. Indeed, although April was drier than average, May, June and July were all wet (averaging ~135%), so sowing may have been impossible on heavier soils.
3. The backwardness of the crops, plus the extended wet/cold weather (with probably a lack of sunshine, though there are no contemporary records for this), meant that the harvest that year was also delayed, as well as being of a low yield. From records in Yorkshire, the harvest began around 20th September, and was not finished until the second week of November (Wintringham Parish Register).
1, CET, EWP
1813/1814
(winter)
C

1. One of the four or five coldest winters in the CET record. See also 1683/84; 1739/40 and 1962/63. Particularly cold January to March: CET values, with anomalies ref. 1961-90 averages: Jan: -2.9(-6.7), Feb: 1.4(-2.4), Mar: 2.9(-2.8): We had to wait until 1962/63 for comparable, extended cold periods, in particular for the January values. The last time that the ‘tidal’ River Thames froze over sufficiently to hold ‘frost fairs’ etc. The activities surrounding the fair lasted well into February, but around 5th/6th February, a thaw set in and the ice started to break up, helped by rain: some people were drowned and many booths were destroyed. The loose ice did much damage to shipping of all sizes on the river. (After this time, the removal of the old London Bridge in 1831, plus other work enabled the Thames to increase it’s flow, and freezing of the tidal stretches has not occurred since.) Most commentators say this was the ‘last great frost fair’ held on the Thames. The greatest frost of the 19th century commenced on the 27th December 1813; the onset of the frost was accompanied by thick fog.
2. Probably one of the snowiest winters in these islands in the last 300 years (1947 comparable). Much disruption in January in particular due to the snow. Reports from Perth (Scotland) spoke of low temperatures in the first week of January: by the end of the week, snow was falling in Aberdeenshire and a few days later reports from Kelso (Borders) spoke of heavy snow blocking roads to Edinburgh. By Monday, 17th January, the storm had become so severe that the newspapers opined that this storm was the worst since 1795. In Dublin, the snowfall was so severe that people were trapped inside their houses, and it is reported that Canterbury (Kent) was cut off for at least six days.
Heavy snow fell during the period 3rd to 5th January, 1814 and this was followed by a temporary thaw which only lasted one day; the frost then returned (often severe over snow cover) and persisted until the 5th February. The Thames was frozen solid from 31st January to 5th February and a frost fair was held on the river; a thaw took place between 5th and 7th February and the drifting ice damaged shipping considerably. [Note also that other rivers had ice problems, such as the Mersey & the Severn – the Thames always gets the headlines! Mention in chronicles of skating at Bristol and horses being ridden over these rivers: no doubt others in the country were similarly affected.]
In addition to the heavy frost, fog was an additional hazard, which commenced (in London) on the 26th/27th December, and only lifted on the 3rd January, 1814. On the 27th December, the fog was so dense (under 20 yards/metres) that the Prince Regent (later George IV), who was on his way to visit the Marquis of Salisbury at Hatfield House, near St. Albans, had to turn back at Kentish Town and return to Carlton House. This short journey took several hours and one of the Prince Regent’s outriders fell into a ditch at Kentish Town. The fog was still dense on the 28th December and on that night the Maidenhead coach, which was returning from London, lost its way and overturned. Dense fog continued on 29th December and the Birmingham mailcoach took nearly 7 hours to go from London to just past Uxbridge (west Middlesex). Traffic was almost at a standstill in London on the nights of 30th and 31st December; many coachmen had to lead their horses and others only drove at a walking pace. Only pedestrians who knew the locality well dared venture forth, and even some of them lost their way. The fog was finally cleared by a cold northerly wind, accompanied by heavy snow, which set in on the 3rd January 1814 (though Lamb in ref. 6 says this occurred 5th/6th).
6, 8
1814 & 1816 C

These years were as cold, if not colder than, 1695. The ‘Frost Fair’ in February of 1814 is thought to be the last held on the Thames in London (1st to 4th). The summer of 1814 was cold: This year, together with that of 1816 (q.v.), were two of the coldest years in the CET record (began 1659). The value for 1814 was 7.7degC, which places it within the ‘top-10’ of all-series cold years.
1816 is famously known as ‘the year without a summer’: in this latter year, heavy snow fell all day on the 14th April, and snow fell on the 12th May.
8,
CET
June 1815
W
The May and June of 1815 were very unsettled, and marked by high rainfall totals across the Low Countries. In particular, the heavy rain-storms in the lead up to, and immediately prior to the Battle of Waterloo (17th/18th) across Belgium may have been a contributory factor in the defeat of the Napoleonic French forces – the French cavalry in particular finding it difficult to traverse the rain-sodden ground. 6
1815/16
(winter)
C

A severe winter (London/South). 8
1816 & 1817
W
Two wet years, with wet summers – in London. 8
1816
(Spring)
C

Whether linked to the volcanic eruption (Tambora/q.v. below) of the previous year or not, spring of 1816 had an overall anomaly (on the whole-series mean) of greater than -1C; snow is reported to have fallen ‘all day’ on Easter Sunday (14th April, quite late) in the ‘London’ area, with further snow reported on the 12th May. 8
1816 (Annual / Summer): THE ‘YEAR WITHOUT A SUMMER’ C W
1. A violent volcanic eruption of Tambora, in the East Indies (Sumbawa island / modern-day Indonesia) in April of 1815, threw enormous amounts of dust into the stratosphere, which spread around the globe, not only cutting out direct insolation, but distorting the global wind circulation. In Europe, grain harvests were late, and in western areas of Britain and across Ireland, continuous rain / low temperatures led to total failure of crops with much distress.
2. Notably cold periods June to September). In particular, summer 1816 had a CET value of just 13.4degC, putting it firmly in the top 2 or 3 coldest summers by that measure.
3. The annual (estimated) CET for 1816 = 7.9degC, about 1.3degC below the ‘all-series’ mean. (NB: however, that Scotland was apparently drier/sunnier than elsewhere – this is taken to imply depressions taking a much more southward path. ) [ See also 1883/Krakatoa ]
CET, 11, 13,
VOLC
September & October 1816 C

2nd September: Sharp frost: ice on water near London (Luke Howard) .. this in early September remember!!: (This was described as ‘the year without a summer’ – see above; there were snowdrifts still on Helvellyn, Lake District, on the 30th July. )
After the cold, cheerless summer & early autumn [above], on October 20th, local accounts covering NE Scotland note ‘ a great hurricane & snowstorm. The stooks of corn were yet out in the fields, and the snow had to be cast to get at them; when dug out they were a frozen lump, and could not be thawed for the cattle ‘.
6
1817
(Summer)
C W
A wet summer across England & Wales. (according to Lamb, in CHMW). The anomaly is given as 149% of LTA (1916-1950).
1817 was also a ‘bad’ year across Scotland – with early (i.e. autumnal) frosts damaging / delaying the autumn harvest & much hardship in rural / highland areas.]
[ It may be that this obviously cyclonic type was a consequence of the cold, disturbed patterns induced by the Tambora event .. see above. ]
1
1817 (September)


Fog on 7 days in September (London/South). 8
January 1818

S Severe westerly gale damaged buildings in Edinburgh; repeated SW-NW gale on the 14th/15th. 6
March 1818
W S Very severe gales caused much damage on 4th, 7th & 8th March.
Notably wet across England & Wales (using the EWP series).
8, EWP
1818 (summer) H D
The summer was claimed to be the longest, driest & warmest in living memory. (?London/South) Overall, using the CET series, the anomaly for the three summer months (JJA) was +1.3C, with June (16.4degC/+2.1C) & July (18.2degC/+2.3C) notably warm. However, August was slightly cooler than average, with an anomaly of -0.3C. It was certainly a dry season, with an EWP figure of 102mm representing ~50% of the all-series mean. At Greenwich, only 40mm of rain was recorded over these three months, with August particularly dry: the value measured at the time (in inches) was 0.1″ (or 2.5mm). This remarkable summer was followed by a wet autumn. 8,
CET,
EWP
1819
(October)
C

Snow fell across southern England (including the London area) on the 22nd; amounts in London around 2 inches / 5 cm reported, with greater amounts in the (then very) rural areas of Surrey. 8
1819
W
A wet year (in London). 8
1819/20
(early to mid-winter)
C

Notably cold weather by CET series. Both December 1819 & January 1820 were notably cold (though not in the ‘top-10’ of such-named months), and the overall winter season figure of 1.4degC represented an anomaly of around -2.3C on the all-series mean. [ NB: February not nearly so cold.]
Snow fell widely & heavily towards the end of December, particularly notable on the 28th. During the first three weeks of January, a particularly severe spell produced deep snow across many southern & southeastern counties of England, including the Isle of Wight. The non-tidal Thames froze as far downstream as Kew. There were ice floes in the Thames estuary, with shipping disrupted (very important to commerce in these pre-railway days).
At Tunbridge Wells (Kent) a temperature of (minus)23degC was reported, but there are no details of exposure, instrument etc.(‘Weather Eye’ / Issue 19 / Ian Currie)
8, CET, Currie
January 1820 C

Minus 23degC (-10degF) reported at Tunbridge Wells – no details of exposure known. 6
1820
(summer)

W
A wet summer (in London). 8
May 1821 C

27th: snow in London area. One of the latest known, and possibly *the* latest until 2nd June 1975. (noted as lasting for some 5 minutes). 6, 8
November & December 1821
W
A wet couple of months (November and December 1821). Total EWP rainfall = 307mm, or about 160% of average. By December, the Thames had risen so much that it flooded the church at Bisham, with a local bridge being washed away on the 26th December. The river was at its highest on the 27th; it was noted at the time as being within 3 inches of the level of the significant floods of 1809. The flooding continued into the New Year. 8, EWP
1821
(December)



Extremely low atmospheric pressure reading in London. At around 0500/25th, a reading of 948.7mbar (originally read in inches/to nearest 1/1000’th) was observed at Greenwich. Until at least 2006, this is the lowest known reading for the ‘London’ & SE area (Burt/’Weather’/January 2007). x
1821
(Annual)

W
A wet year (in London).
A very wet year using the EWP series (across England & Wales). The %age value was ~115% of the whole-series mean. It was also a notably wet year in the London area (and by rough extension, the SE of England), where Greenwich recorded 34.5 inches (~876 mm) of rain, representing at least 140% of the long-term average. (LW) [ See also the general note at the head of the 1800’s ]
8,
EWP
1821/1822
(Winter)
H W
Notably mild. The CET value was 5.8degC, some 2C above the all-series mean & in the top dozen-or-so mild winters in this long established series.
Significant flooding along the Thames over the months of December & January: hardly surprising, given the excess of rainfall in the second-half of 1821, with November & December (EWP) taken together seeing a figure of some 150-160% of the long term average rainfall. Floods were reported from Henley, Maidenhead & Kingston-upon-Thames. (LW)
1, CET, EWP
1822
(February)


S Severe gale did a great deal of damage on 5th February (London/South?). 8
1822/23
(Winter)
C

The notably mild winter of 1821/22 (see above) was followed by a notably cold winter! The 3-month average for this season was 1.4degC, representing an anomaly of over -2C on the all-series mean.(CET). During this severe winter, there was much ice in the Thames at Greenwich by the 30th December. 8, CET
Feb. 1823 C
S 8th: Great snowstorm in N. England: the ways subsequently opened by tunnelling through drifts. 6
1823
(Summer)
C

Using the CET series (began 1659), this summer was one of the coldest by that measure across England & Wales. CET
October to December 1823
W S 31st October: gales.
Thames in flood at Windsor at the beginning of November.
Gales 17th December did great damage.
8
1824
W S A very wet year using the EWP series (across England & Wales). The %age value was ~113% of the whole-series mean. It was also a notably wet year in the London area (and by rough extension, the SE of England), where Greenwich recorded 36.3 inches (~922 mm) of rain, representing at least 150% of the long-term average. (LW)
[ See also the general note at the head of the 1800’s ]
3rd March: Serious damage caused by gale (London/South).
Autumn: with an EWP value of 388mm (~150% of LTA), this Autumn is one of the dozen or so wettest such seasons in that series. A number of reports of flooding around the country.
8,
EWP
1825 (February)

S 1. Fog on 6 days in February (London/South).
2. Notable storm 4th February.
8, Lamb / Wheeler
1825
(summer)
H D
A dry summer. Three days with maximum temperature 90 degF (32 degC) or above between 15th and 19th July. (London/South?) 8
1825 C
S Violent gales did much damage 5th August.
Snow fell on 20th & 21st October (?London/South).
Damaging gales 3rd November.
8
1826
(January)
C

A notably cold January (~-3C anomaly/CET) with ‘a great deal of ice’ noted on the Thames at Greenwich on the 13th January, and nearly frozen (?over) at Deptford on the 17th (LW). 8,
CET
1826
(Summer)
H D
1. June, July and August: persistently warm weather by CET series. For these three months, the figure was 17.6degC, placing it as the second hottest summer in that series (began 1659) after 1976.
The period mid-June to mid-July using the CET series, was one (of two) hottest 30-day periods in that series, with a value of 19.7degC. (See also 1976)
2. Dry by the EWP series. June 1826, with 12.4mm, was the 3rd driest June in that series (update to 1998). Total (summer) rainfall was just 122mm .. not ‘record-breaking’, but still noteworthy. ” A warm summer” (London/South).
8, EWP, CET
1826: (Annual)
D
A dry year, in the top 20 dry years in the EWP series, and just inside the ‘top-10’ (as at 2002). EWP
1827
D
A dry summer (London/South). 8
1828
(Summer
& Annual)

W S A wet summer (148% of LTA 1916-1950) across England & Wales (according to Lamb/CHMW).
It was also a wet year by the EWP series.
Gale damaged houses & trees on the night 9th/10th August (London/South?).
1, 8, EWP
1828
W
A wet year. 8
1829 C W
A cold year: Continuous frost 16th to 24th January; ice in the Thames on 23rd January.
A notably wet summer (168% of LTA 1916-1950) across England & Wales (according to Lamb/CHMW). Note the second wet summer in a row, though only three years after a notably dry year of 1826!
The ‘extended’ summer (June to September) showed a %age of 185%.
Over an inch (~ 2.5cm) of snow fell on the 7th October. Six inches (circa 15cm) on 25th November (?London/South). (see also entries below).
1, 8, EWP
1829
(July)

W
July, had an EWP of 144mm, and this represented ~230% of the LTA. There was severe flooding on tributaries of the River Aire & reservoir failure at Adel, Leeds (W. Yorkshire) in this month. EWP
August 1829 C W
Disastrous floods of all rivers between Moray & Angus, after torrential rains 2nd to 4th August, with NE winds & waterspouts. Stone bridges and houses washed away in 5 or 6 counties, coastline altered at river mouths. (July had been very thundery in the South, but cold with night frosts in Scotland).
27th: Further floods in the same districts in NE Scotland as above.
August 1829 in particular was in the ‘top-10’ of wet such-named months in the EWP series: floods washed away bridges, altered river courses & caused much loss to agriculture. It was also a cold month, with an anomaly of around minus one-and-a-half C.
6, EWP, CET
October & November 1829 C
S 7th October: snow lay for a while in the London area & elsewhere in the South. (up to the 1960’s, the earliest known date .. “several inches” according to contemporay reports).
14th October: Severe NE gale 13th/14th in Scotland; ships lost.
25th November: ENE gale in Scotland: many ships lost.
6
1829/30
(Winter)
C

Severe winter. Almost continuous frost 23rd to 31st December 1829, 12th to 19th January 1830 and then 31st January to 6th February. Much ice in the Thames on the 29th December and 22nd January. Thames at Greenwich blocked by ice on 3rd February, but all the ice had drifted out to sea by the 10th February.
The CET value for the three ‘standard’ winter months of December, January & February was 1.1degC, or an approximate ‘all-series’ negative anomaly of over two-and-a-half C. Further afield, Lake Constance in central Europe froze over completely for the first time since 1740, and it did not do so again until 1963.
1, 8, CET
1830
(Spring,
Summer
& early Autumn)
C W
Another rather wet period from April to September (England & Wales).
A wet summer (in London). Further afield, the summer of 1830 was noted as being “remarkably cold & wet” in Kendal, Westmorland. Using the CET & EWP series, for the three months June, July & August, the overall temperature anomaly was -1C & the precipitation value represented well over 150% of the all-series mean precipitation.
8, CET, EWP, CUMB
1830 (December) C

1. ‘Spectacular “White Christmas” ‘ this year is thought to be the model on which Charles Dickens based his ‘Christmas at Dingley Dell’ episode in ‘Pickwick papers’.
2. Minimum temperature at Greenwich on 25th December was on 11degF (- 12degC).
8
1831
W
A wet year (in London). During a severe storm, 1 inch (25mm) of rain fell in about 30 minutes. Thunderstorms daily from 2nd to 5th August in London. 8
1832
(February)



Thick fog 22nd to 25th February (London/South). 8
1833: (February)
W
1. Wettest February (as of 2007) in the EWP record. EWP
1833/1834: (Winter) H W
1. One of the warmest winters (by CET) in the series which began in 1659. Up to 1997, rank=2 Value=6.53; Dec=6.9, Jan=7.1, Feb=5.6 (Others: 1686, 1734, 1796, 1869, 1935, 1975, 1989 and 1990.)
2. Notably WET January by the EWP series.
CET, EWP
1834/35 to 1837/38: (Winters/Springs): sequence of 4 notably SEVERE winters/cold-springs in Scotland.) C W
1. 1834/1835: Notably snowy winter in Scotland. By the third week of January, 1835, there had been enough snow to seriously disrupt the ‘Mails’, but it was not until the end of February that the greatest quantities were reported. The bad/snowy weather lasted well into mid-March, with depths of 8 or 9 feet being reported.
2. 1835/1836: Another bad winter for snow in Scotland. From December until the end of March, snow was a feature. Heavy falls were reported in January and February, 1836, followed by ‘considerable’ accumulations in March, especially across northern Scotland. In Edinburgh, snow was a problem as late as the 31st March, and it was not until 7th April that there was a significant easing in the situation.
3. A very wet March across England & Wales in 1836; (in the ‘top – 10’ of wettest such-named months in the EWP series).
4. 1836/1837: Although considerable snowfall was reported in January, 1837, the worst of the weather as far as snow was concerned, was still to come. blizzards began at the end of February and on the 14th March, the weather was still ‘severe’. All through March, the weather is still described as ‘severe’ both as to cold & snow. Much transport dislocation, and distress to livestock, damage to root crops etc. On the 12th April, the Glasgow Chronicle reported that the Campsie and Kilpatrick Hills were still white with snow. The wheat was so badly damaged by frost that the farmers had harrowed it down, and were sowing oats instead. Deer were dying through lack of fodder in the hills & the FROST was so severe that many lambs died immediately they were born.
5. 1837/1838: Further considerable snowfall across Scotland. However a late start to the winter, with as late as the 6th January, the weather reported as mild with farmers well on with the work. After the 8th, hard frosts & snow however then became a feature of the winter/early spring, with further notes of disrupted mails, hardship for people and livestock. In some parts of northern Scotland, snow was noted to fall on most days between January 8th & May 3rd. snow was also noted in upland areas of NE Scotland in June.
6. 1837/1838: A cold winter across England & Wales. In the CET record, the value is given as 1.4degC, an approximate anomaly of -2.3C on the all-series mean. Of particular note were the low temperatures experienced during January, 1838, when the monthly average (CET) is assessed as -1.5degC, equal 8th coldest such named month in the series (with 1709 & 1881); the estimated anomaly for this month being over four-and-a-half degC colder than the long-term mean. Indeed, this month only fails by a whisker to make it into the 10 ‘all/any-month’ coldest list. (CET)
1, CET,
EWP
1834
D W A DRY spell from February to June, then a WET summer (in London).
FOG from 30th September to 6th October (London/South).
8
1835
(summer)

D
A DRY summer (London/South). 8
October 1836 C

28th (or 29th?): SNOW lay in Edinburgh 4 to 5 inches (10 to 13cm) deep: earliest date (up to 1960’s) 6, 8
29th November 1836

S A severe gale blew down trees and unroofed houses (London/South?). 8
25th December 1836 C
S Great ENE gale and snowstorm 25th – 26th, many lives lost: roads throughout England impassable for several days, snow 5 to 15 feet (1.5 to 4.5 metres) deep in many places, a few great drifts 20 to 50 feet (6 to 15m). [ see also entry above and below for whole winter.] 6
1837




1836 – 1837 (winter & early spring) C

Although considerable snowfall was reported in January, 1837, the worst of the weather as far as snow was concerned, was still to come. Blizzards began at the end of February and on the 14th March, the weather was still ‘severe’. All through March, the weather is still described as ‘severe’ both as to cold & snow. Much transport dislocation, and distress to livestock, damage to root crops etc. On the 12th April, the Glasgow Chronicle reported that the Campsie and Kilpatrick Hills were still white with snow. The wheat was so badly damaged by frost that the farmers had harrowed it down, and were sowing oats instead. Deer were dying through lack of fodder in the hills & the frost was so severe that many lambs died immediately they were born.
During this winter, the only (known) disastrous snow avalanche in these islands occurred on the 27th December 1836, at Lewes, Sussex. Heavy snow started to fall on Christmas Eve, and easterly gales blowing over the top of Cliffe Hill with associated eddies, caused a cornice of snow to build up, overhanging a row of houses which stood below. Three days later, on the 27th, bright sunshine caused a fissure in the cornice. Householders ignored a warning. The houses were demolished, and eight people were killed. The “Snowdrop Inn” on the site commemorates the event.
GBWFF
1837 (Spring) C

The coldest spring (March / April / May) in the entire CET record. March, with a value of 2.3degC (anom. ~-3C) was one of the ‘top-10’ such-named months, whilst April (4.7degC/anom. ~-3.2C) was the coldest April in the entire series. May was also cold (anom. ~-1.3). The overall seasonal mean CET value was 5.6degC, or around -2.5C on the all-series value (and about 3C below the ‘modern-day’ average). (See also 1770 & 1695)
Snow or sleet showers on the 10th & 22nd May (?London/South?)
8,
CET
1837/38
(Winter &
early Spring)
C

This severe winter was called “Murphy’s winter”; Patrick Murphy won fame and a small fortune from the sale of an almanac in which he predicted the severe frost of January 1838 (a 2 month frosty period set in with a light SE wind & fine day with hoar frost on the 7th (or 8th) January).
20th January 1838: Lowest temperatures (known / accepted) of the 19th century in London; -16degC reported at Greenwich about sunrise (close to minimum time), -20degC at Blackheath, -26degC at Beckenham (Kent). The temperature in Greenwich was -11degC at midday. The Thames at Greenwich was completely covered with ice at high water on the 27th January 1838.
Considerable snowfall across Scotland. However a late start to the winter, with as late as the 6th January, the weather being reported as mild with farmers well on with the work. After the 8th, hard frosts & snow then became a feature of the winter/early spring, with further notes of disrupted mails, hardship for people and livestock. In some parts of northern Scotland, snow was noted to fall on most days between January 8th & May 3rd. snow was also noted in upland areas of NE Scotland in June.
A cold winter across England & Wales. (Easton, in CHMW/Lamb): Using the CET record, the average across December / January / February was 1.4degC, or nearly 21/2C below the all-series mean. December was not particularly extreme, but January, with a value of -1.5degC, was in the ‘top-10’ of coldest Januarys, whilst February, with a mean value of 0.4degC, lay just outside the top-10 coldest such-named months in the same record.
8,
CET
1838 (February)

S THE ‘BUDE BREAKWATER’ GALE
1. On the evening of the 24th February, 1838, a southerly GALE developed (” more violent than for years “), this veering west-southwesterly through the night and coincided with a HIGH TIDE in the early hours of the 25th. The inside slope of the Bude Breakwater (built to protect the harbour/canal entrance between 1820 and 1822) gave way (?scouring / over-topping?), with three-quarters of the structure giving way. [ Apparently the mortar had been weakened by a SEVERE FROST in the winter; however, the structure was also deemed to have had too steep a slope, and the replacement breakwater was of much better construction, and has survived many a gale to this day/2003.] DAMAGE also occurred to sea structures all along the south coast of England, including the Plymouth breakwater.
12
1838 (late Summer / Autumn) C

Following a severe winter/early spring of 1838 over Scotland [ see above ], the crops were already delayed, and were then DAMAGED in the ground by FROST in August, with the COLD/FROSTY weather continuing through September & October. A large proportion of the crop was lost, with much hardship for rural tenants. x
1838 C

Cold year:
fog on 11 days in September (London/South).
Snow showers on the 13th October (?London/South?).
8
January 1839

S 1.’The Night of the Big WIND‘: On 6/7 January in Ireland. This is the most notorious of all storms to affect Ireland (also affected other parts of the British Isles – see below). An unusually DEEP DEPRESSION travelling in a north-east direction to the north of Ireland was responsible. GUSTS in excess of 100 knots in places. Over 200 people were KILLED across Ireland & surrounding waters, though the loss of life was relatively low (given the fact of lack of warning etc.), and there was considerable DAMAGE to buildings, shipping and crops. Around 20-25% of houses in Dublin experienced some form of damage, though some was minor (broken windows). Several tens of thousands of trees were uprooted (some sources say ‘hundreds of thousands’ – which is a significant difference); vast amount of salt was deposited a long way inland to the detriment of plant life.
> The aforementioned STORM also affected other parts of the British Isles, particularly western & northern parts of Britain, with around 400 killed (not sure if this includes the 200 for Ireland, or if this is in addition). The newly-built Menai Bridge was severely damaged. In Liverpool & in the adjacent waters of the Irish Sea, much DAMAGE ensued – building damage ashore, and loss of vessels & lives afloat. Loss of life for the Liverpool area, land & sea is stated to be around 115, with many-a-breach of local sea walls. (Remember that coastal shipping was of great importance in these days before the railway network reached all corners of the Kingdom).
6
1839 May C

Showers of SNOW, sleet and hail on the 14th & 15th May. 8
1839
(Summer)

W
A WET summer (148% of LTA 1916-1950) across England & Wales. (Lamb/CHMW). Specifically, July 1839 was in the ‘top-10’ of WETTEST such-named months in the EWP series. 1, EWP
1839 (Annual) C W
A WET year and a wet summer (in London).
A COLD year for Scotland. Specifically for agricultural areas of NE Scotland (though not exclusively so – just that this is the area I have data), the following are noted:
> March: a SEVERE SNOWSTORM, with much DRIFTING – loss of life.
> May: about the middle of that month, there was a heavy fall of SNOW with much DRIFTING.
> September: Severe FLOODING after HEAVY RAINFALL. DAMAGE / DESTRUCTION of bridges in the area.
Over England & Wales, the period June 1839 to January 1840 was notably WET (including the wet summer – see above); the cumulative anomaly for this period was 140%.
In December, FOG 1st to 7th December (London/South).
8, EWP
1840 (Autumn)
W
Excessively WET over parts of Scotland, particularly the northeast. x
1840 (November)


Thick FOG 27th to 29th November (London/South). 8
1840
D
A DRY year both by the London & England & Wales series. From the Greenwich record, the total rainfall for this year was 16.43 inches / ~417mm, or about 70% of the contemporary average. February, March, April, August & December were all DRY, March & April notably so (just 0.09 ins / ~2mm in the latter month). Using the wider England & Wales series, the total was 801mm (~88% of LTA), with March & April very DRY: March 1840, with 10mm (~13%) of RAIN was the third driest such-named month in the entire series. (LW/EWP)[ contrast with Scotland in the autumn – below ] 8,
EWP
1840/41
(winter)
C

Severe winter. All three winter months had CET anomalies considerably below average. 8,
CET
1841
(High summer & autumn)

W
A WET sequence of months from July to November inclusive across England & Wales. Using the EWP series, the approximate anomaly for the period overall was 140-150%. EWP
1844 (Annual)
D
One of the DRIEST years across England and Wales using the EWP series.
April, May (DRIEST May in that series), June & December all exceptionally dry.
EWP
1844/1845
(Winter)
C

A COLD winter over western Europe / implied for parts of Britain. (Easton, in CHMW/Lamb) 1
1845
(late Summer/early Autumn):
C W
BLIGHT & CROP FAILURE ACROSS EUROPE
1. Notably COLD weather July to September. The summer of 1845 (June, July & August) had a mean CET=14.2degC, around a degree below the all-series mean. Specifically, August 1845 was over 2 degC colder than average. This summer was part of a run of poor such seasons from 1843 to 1845, with significantly below average TEMPERATURES using the CET series.
2. Persistent / often heavy RAINS over Ireland accompanied by depressed TEMPERATURES during the second half of the summer, precipitated the start of a great famine. The failure was caused by rotting of the potato (a staple food for poor families in the island) in the ground – the weather conditions (cold / damp) being ideal for spread of the spores which caused the Blight. By October of 1845, there had been a total collapse of the Irish potato source. The situation was made worse because of the failure of the corn harvest in Britain and western Europe, and the indifference of both the government in Westminster [ Ireland was at this time part of the United Kingdom ] & of the land-owners, many of whom were English, or Anglo-Irish.
CET, 14
1845/1846
(Winter)
H

Notably mild winter in Scotland. (c.f. to ‘severe’ winter conditions much further south e.g. Paris). The generally mild weather lasted from December to early March, when ‘winter’ set in. The mild conditions were also reflected in the CET record, where the value was 5.8degC (roughly +2C), placing the winter within the top dozen-or-so of mild winters. 1, CET
May/Jun 1846 H D
Hot, dry spell began on 25th. Ended (as a 25-day exceptionally hot, dry spell) in Ireland on 18th June. 6
August 1846


1st: Violent thunderstorms. Hail smashed glass arcade over Regent Street pavements in London beyond repair. 6
1846
(Summer)
H W
1. Further high RAINFALL in Ireland – causing additional misery after the previous failure of the potato crop (see above). The hardship in the island continued for many years (until at least July 1849), encouraging emigration & fostering the ill-feeling towards rule from England which was to cause so much strife in the next 150 years. In 1841, the census total for Ireland was 8.17mn; by the 1851 tally, it had fallen to 6.55mn: it has been estimated that over 1mn people died due to the Famine.
2. With a CET value of 17.1degC, this summer over England & Wales was in the ‘top-5’ of WARMEST summers in that series (began 1659). [ I suppose you could speculate that it was for this reason that English landowners did not fully appreciate the plight of poorer people in Ireland. However note that summer 1846 was also WET in the EWP series, with ~125% of LTA RAINFALL.]
14, CET, EWP
September – November 1846

S 20th September: Beginning of period of violent GALES in Ireland, lasting until 21st November.
20th October: Violent STORM in Ireland, probably former tropical hurricane.
6
July 1847
W
Cloudburst on Bodmin Moor, Cornwall: FLOODING rivers destroyed bridges. 6
1848: (February)
W
1. One of the WETTEST Februarys across England & Wales (using the EWP series). EWP
1848
(Summer)

W
A notably WET summer (157% of LTA 1916-1950) across England & Wales (see Lamb/CHMW). At Greenwich, the total RAINFALL for the three months of June, July & August=247mm (161%). June 1848 was especially WET here (Greenwich), with 89mm or ~210% of LTA. July had below average rainfall (85%), but August was back up to 186% anomaly with 108mm, by far the wettest month of that very wet year (q.v.). 1, EWP
1848 (Annual)
W
9th WETTEST in the EWP series (as of 2004). Notable FLOODS along the Thames Valley. EWP
April 1849 C

Great SNOWSTORM in S. England: Westerham (Kent) coach buried in drifts. 6

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Where possible, I have listed the sources above, but remember that these often simply quote others – refer to the original work for a full bibliography.

1. Climate, history and the modern world.
H.H. Lamb
Methuen
1982

2. Woodlands.
W. Condry
Collins
1974

3. The Observer’s Book of Weather.
R. Pearce
Warne
1980

4. World Climate from 8000 to 0 B.C.
[ Proceedings of the International Symposium held in 1966 ]
Various contributors
Royal Meteorological Society
1966

5. British floods & droughts.
C.E.P. Brooks & J. Glasspoole
Benn
1928

6. The English climate.
H.H. Lamb
English Universities Press
1964

7. The Elements Rage.
F.W. Lane
David & Charles
1966

8. London Weather.
J.H. Brazell
HMSO (Meteorological Office)
1968

9. Contemporary Climatology.
Henderson-Sellers & Robinson
Longman Scientific
1986

10. The climate of the British Isles.
P. B. Wright (Ed: Chandler & Gregory)
Longman Scientific
1976

11. Regional climates of the British Isles.
D. Wheeler and J. Mayes
Routledge
1997

12. The Bude Canal
Helen Harris & Monica Ellis
David & Charles
1972

13. Weatherwise
Philip Eden
Macmillan
1995 (and updated)

14. The Weather Factor
Erik Durschmied
Hodder & Stoughton
2000

15. Shell Guide to Britain
(ed.) Geoffrey Boumphrey
Ebury Press
1969 (but data checked / amended against later sources)

16. The Penguin Atlas of Medieval History
Colin McEvedy
Penguin Books
1961

17. The Daily Telegraph “Book of the Weather”
Philip Eden
Continuum
2003

18. “Climate in Everyday Life”
C.E.P. Brooks
Ernest Benn
1950

19. “Encyclopædia Britannica (Multimedia ed.)”
(various)
Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
1999

20. “The Long Summer”
Brian Fagan
Granta Books
2004

21. “Weather”
Abercromby & Goldie
Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., Ltd.
1934

22. “Weather Men”
Bernard Ashley
Allman & Son
1970

23. “Historic Storms of the North Sea, British Isles & NW Europe”
H. H. Lamb
Cambridge University Press
1991 (paperback)

(Source abbreviations:
CEPB = Climate in Everyday life/Brooks;
CET= Central England Temperature series (Met Office / Hadley Centre);
CHMW/Lamb = Climate, history & the modern world/HH Lamb);
CUMB = Chronicle of Magistrates, Cumbrian Genealogy (homepages.Tesco.net/~rolygrigg/);
DWS/MWS= Various Monthly/Daily Weather Summaries (UK Meteorological Office);
EWP= England and Wales Precipitation series (Met Office / Hadley Centre);
GPE = Philip Eden’s articles in the Daily Telegraph & elsewhere;
LW = London Weather/Brazell;
LWH= Landmarks of World History web site (www.phenomena.org.uk/);
RJP = Bob Prichard’s summaries of the 20th century; var.
RMS = Royal Meteorological Society ‘Weather Log’;
TEC = The English Climate/Lamb;
TREF= Web site: http://www.timeref.com
usw = contributors to uk.sci.weather newsgroup);
VOLC= Volcanoes/Decker & Decker; )


About this entry