1850CE-2007(July): 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:




 1850 – 1899
  1851/52 & 1852/53: (Winter/Spring)


 The winter of 1851/52 in Scotland saw some heavy snowfall. The first major event affected the north of Scotland on the 13th with considerable disruption to mail services. The railway to Aberdeen from the south was kept open only with difficulty. It was reported that deaths occurred, due to often ‘blizzard’ conditions. [NB: the word ‘blizzard’ would not have been in use in the UK at this time – see later.] The storms did not continue beyond the end of January.
The winter of 1852/53 in Scotland also was severe, particularly in February. Low temperatures and heavy snowfall. This time, severe conditions of cold and snow lasted well into March.
 x
 1852: (July)


 In the middle of what was to become one of the wettest years over England & Wales in the modern record [see below], this July was notably warm. The CET value (started 1659) was 18.7degC, representing an anomaly of +2.8C on the all-series mean, and placing it in the ‘top-five’ of warmest Julys in that series. [ As so often happened with warm Julys, the contiguous summer months (June & August), were nothing special, and June 1852 in particular was quite chilly with an anomaly of over -1C. ]  CET,
EWP
 1852
(Summer)



 A very wet summer across England & Wales (166% of LTA 1916-1950) in what was to become a notably WET year (q.v.). In the Greenwich record, the total rainfall for the three months of June, July & August=285mm (188%), with June exceptionally wet at 277% of LTA for that station.  1
 1852: (August to December)


 Remarkable rainfall totals over these 5 months: total for this period (EWP)=717mm (or ~170% of the long-term average). November in particular was exceptionally wet; with 203mm for the EWP, this represented some 220% of the average, and is the wettest November (and the second wettest any-month) in that series. By November and through December, the Thames Valley from Vauxhall to Windsor resembled a ‘vast lake’. Oxford was standing in a ‘sea of water’, the Cherwell and Isis being several miles wide. At several places along the river, (e.g. Maidenhead, Reading, Ealing and Uxbridge), the principal corn fields were inundated by several feet of water. Flooding extended to other areas in the southeast of England – Epsom, Dartford, Lewisham and Charlton all mentioned. On the North Kent railway, the valley of the Medway and the marshes along the Thames were one expanse of water for many miles. Parts of Chatham, Rochester and Stroud (all Kent) were also flooded. At Guildford, Chertsey, Woking and Battersea, the flood was several feet deep. Many other like reports across the region.
 EWP
 1852
(December)



 Over the Christmas period (25th to 27th) two major storms of wind (from the SW) affected the British Isles: Heavy rain also a problem (see above) and there was widespread & serious damage due to high winds & flooding. Specifically, on December 25th: from Kendal (Westmorland), ” violent storm of wind from the SW, nearly equal to that of January 7th, 1839; a lady killed in Highgate, by the falling of a chimney. December 27th, again a “great storm of wind” from the same quarter, accompanied by heavy rain & extensive damage caused by the flood at Foulshaw”.(CUMB). Sea walls damaged / destroyed at Southport, Lancashire.  CUMB
 1852: (Annual)


 A notably wet year over England & Wales: With an EWP of 1213mm, it is placed 4th in the all-record list (as at 2003). (See also 1872, 1768, 1960 & 2000).
At Oxford, the annual total rainfall was 1047mm, representing 160% of the average, and up to 2004, this was the highest total in a series that stretched back to 1766 (‘Weather’ Oct. 2004).
EWP, RMetS
 1854: (Annual)


 A notably dry year by the EWP series – as of 2002, in the ‘top-5’ driest by that measure. (see also 1788, 1887 & 1921)  EWP
 1855
(January – March)



 A very cold start to the year, with February 1855 being the third coldest in the CET record (-1.7degC/-5.5C anomaly). The River Severn was frozen to a sufficient depth at Worcester on the 24th February that a printing press was set up there – previously this had only been known in January, 1795.  CET
 1857
(late Summer/early Autumn)



 Persistently warm weather from August to October, by CET series.  CET
 1859
(October)



 THE “ROYAL CHARTER” STORM.
The gale of 25th October 1859, which wrecked the fully rigged ship “Royal Charter” on the coast of Anglesey, drowning about 500 people (and loss of gold bullion), led to the introduction of gale warnings (in 1861) by means of hoisting of signals around the British & Irish coastlines (‘hoist North Cones’!). The ship was only one of over 200 vessels wrecked between the 21st October and 2nd November, with the loss of around 800 lives – most of these losses occurred in the ‘Royal Charter Storm’.
 22
 1860
(Summer)



 Using the CET series (began 1659), this summer was one of the top 5 or so coldest across England & Wales. It contained the wettest June in the EWP series.
It was also one of the wettest summers across England & Wales. The anomaly was 169% of the LTA (1916-1950). At Greenwich, the total rainfall for June, July & August=312mm (210%), with June alone accounting for 147mm/~350% LTA. [ Fortunately October & November of that year were not excessively wet, otherwise flooding would have been almost certain. ]
 CET, EWP, 8
 1862: (March)


 Notably wet across England & Wales. EWP
 1862
(Summer)



 The summer of 1862 was notably cold using the CET series.  CET
 1864 (January)


 January had many days of heavy snowfall including the 7/8th, 11th, 18th, 22nd and 27th.  x
 1864


 A notably dry year by the EWP series: in the ‘top-10’ using that measure. The main drought period ran from April to August.  EWP, 18
 1865 (January)


 Heavy snow fell in the last week of January, 1865 between the 25th and the 31st. The snow averaged about 22 cm, with snowdrifts of up to four and a half metres. In South Wales the snowfall is said to have been unequalled for forty years.  x
 1865 (late Spring)


 April, May and June … persistently fine and warm weather. Using the CET record, all three months had anomalies exceeding +1C, with April, at a value of 10.6degC, having an anomaly with respect to the all-series mean of around +2.7C.  CET
 1866




 1866 (January)


 Heavy snowfall event in southern England between 10th and 11th January.  x
 1866
(November)



 Great damage occurred at Hesketh Bank (south-side of the Ribble estuary, near Southport, Lancashire) when the sea burst through earth banks and flooded parts of the village and large areas of farmland. (This is presumably a wind-driven tidal surge, possibly coupled to large volumes of land-water running off the Pennines: see below)
Extensive flooding on the Aire & its tributaries such as the River Worth, including at Keighley, Stockbridge & Leeds. At Apperley, the railway viaduct collapsed and floodwater reached several feet deep in houses at Castlefield Mill and Bingley. Out of bank flows reached two to three feet deep as far downstream as Leeds. Near Leeds, the Kirkstall railway bridge overtopped, flooding Kirkstall Station & Kirkstall Road. This is the largest recorded event in Leeds and six people drowned.
 x
 1866 (December)


 The final heavy snowfall of 1866 occurred on the 30th December causing many roads in East Anglia to become impassable, and for a 2.5 metre snowdrift to be found in Regent Street, London. [ see also entry below for early January, 1867.]  x
 1867 (January)


 A snowstorm occurred between the 1st & 2nd, 1867 causing great hindrance to railway traffic. [ q.v. entry above for late December. ] snowdrifts of 6 metres were recorded while 20cm of snow fell on the morning of the 2nd in the Home Counties. On the 10th, heavy snow blocked roads and railways in London. South Shields, Tyne and Wear and Peterborough, Cambridgeshire also received large amounts of snow as well as the rest of the east coast of England. Dover and Deal in Kent and Brighton, East Sussex, became completely cut off. More heavy snow occurred between the 22nd and 23rd January, with extensive snow in eastern parts of Scotland, blocking railways. 75 cm of snow fell in Aberdeen, with snowdrifts up to 6m high.  x
 1868
(early & mid
Summer)



Persistently warm weather by CET series over period May to July. The summer of 1868 was very hot & dry, with some of the highest temperatures ever recorded for the second half of July occurring in this year. There was a remarkable spell of hot days, with temperatures over 30degC in England. For the south-east of England specifically, a maximum temperature above 32degC was recorded in each of the months from May to September, and in July specifically, the temperature exceeded 32degC on 9 days; the soil was very dry (lack of precipitation), which would of course mean that solar energy was most effective. [ Note that consistency of instrumentation / housing was not as high as it is today.]
> It was regarded for many years, until 1976 at least, as the longest (due lack of rainfall) & hottest in the instrumental record for England.
2. Although not accepted (because of problems of comparison between Glaisher and Stevenson screens), the maximum temperature recorded on the 22nd July, 1868 at Tonbridge, Kent is still remarkable: 100.6 degF/(converted=38.1degC) [ It is now thought that this value, when compared with the ‘standard’ Stevenson screen, is about 1.5C or 2C too high.]
3. Notable drought May to July over England & Wales in particular: somewhere around 40% of long term average. Using the EWP series (Hadley), both June & July were in the ‘top-10’ of dry such-named months (4th driest as at 2007), with 17 mm (~25% average) & 20 mm (~33% average) respectively. Not quite so dry in Scotland (just under 70%).
 CET, EWP, 1, 10, 18
 1868/1869 (Winter)


November 1868 was a cold month, with a CET anomaly of -1.1C. However, this turned out to be a false start to the ‘winter’ season, as the subsequent ‘standard’ winter (DJF) became, until the 21st century, the warmest winter (by CET) in the series which began in 1659. The overall value (December, January & February) was=6.77, representing an anomaly of +3.1C on the all-series mean; December had a value of 7.2 (+3.1), January 5.6 (+2.4) & February 7.5 (+3.7). December was in the ‘top-10’ of warm such-named months, whilst February 1869 was the second-warmest February in the entire series. (Other warm winters/ending February of year indicated: 1686, 1734, 1796, 1834, 1935, 1975, 1989, 1990 & 2007.)  CET
 1870/1871
(Winter)



 A cold winter over western Europe / implied for parts of Britain. (Easton, in CHMW/Lamb). Using the CET record, the overall value for the three ‘winter’ months of December, January & February was 2.4degC, representing an anomaly of roughly -1.3C on the all-series mean.  1,
CET
 1872: (January)


 Notably wet over England & Wales (using the EWP series). EWP
 1872
(Summer)



 A wet summer across England & Wales. According to Lamb/CHMW, the anomaly was 140% (of LTA 1916-1950).  1
 1872 (Annual)


 Wettest (calendar) year for England and Wales in the EWP series. (1284.9mm for the EWP series.) & also the wettest *any* twelve months: (at the time). [ Superseded by 2000 period April 2000 to March 2001 (for twelve months) q.v.]. EWP
 1872-1879:
(8 years)



 These eight years began with the wettest calendar year in the EWP series (see above), and culminated in the second wettest summer in that set; the ‘growing-to-harvest’ periods (May – September) of 1872, 1875, 1877, 1878 & 1879 all experienced well-above average rainfall – that of 1879 being some 160% above the ‘all-series’ mean. Summer-time temperatures were also either ‘average’ or depressed, and again, in 1879 the CET value of 13.7degC was some 1.5degC below the all-series average, a considerable amount. It is no surprise then to find that British agriculture entered a period of depression (some have called it a ‘crisis’), beginning in 1875 and not recovering until 1884; the downturn was aggravated by foreign wars and imbalance in trade (depressed home prices), coupled to unsustainable land rents. EWP, CET
 1876 (January)


 After a mild start, it turned much colder. On the 21st January, a heavy snowfall / blizzard: 14 deaths occurred as two trains collided near Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, because one of the drivers was blinded by the blizzard causing the train to over run the signals. Snow on the cables and arms had forced all the signals into the ‘clear’ position.  x
 1877: (January)


 Notably wet over England and Wales (using the EWP series). EWP
 1877 (Annual)


 Notably wet year by the EWP series – in the ‘top-10’ using that measure. EWP
 1878 (March)


 “LOSS OF HMS EURYDICE
On 24th March, 1878, a sudden and severe squall resulted in the sinking of the naval training ship HMS Eurydice, with the loss of all 366 men aboard. A strong north-to-northwesterly flow affected the British Isles on the SW flank of large/irregular depression centred over southern Scandinavia. A small-scale secondary (?polar low?) produced a snowy-squall line, as it ran southeastwards during the afternoon, reaching the Isle of Wight area around mid-afternoon (the time/place of the disaster). HMS Eurydice was a full-rigged sailing vessel, homeward bound from the West Indies. At 3.45pm, the ship was off Ventnor (Isle of Wight) running before a nearly westerly wind, with all sail set. Before sail could be shortened, the squall hit, and as the lee ports were open, the ship took on a large quantity of water, filled and capsized. The crew had apparently been drinking heavily and had not noticed that snow had gathered in the top sails causing the vessel to be top heavy; only two survived. This was regarded at the time as one of the ‘greatest disasters that had befallen the British Navy for many years’.
[‘Weather’, Abercromby & Goldie, pp 168 et.seq.]
 21
 1878/79: (late Autumn/early Winter)


 November to January .. notably and persistently cold by CET series.  CET
 1878/79: (Winter)


 The coldest winter in a Glasgow composite record from 1868. (2nd coldest was 1962/63) [ for the CET series, this/1962-63 *was* the coldest CET=(minus) 0.33, with the winter of 1878/79 coming seventh in the series at + 0.70degC. ]
( see ‘Weather’August, 1963: pp226-228 )
One of only four occasions in the CET series when there were consecutive ‘sub-zero’ mean temperatures: December 1878 (-0.3) and January 1879 (-0.7). [The others were 1684, 1740 & 1963]. [ The coldest winters were: 1684, 1740 & 1963 ]
A very snowy winter / early spring November to April. A severe snowstorm occurred on the 12th November, when northern England and Scotland experienced between 37 and 45 cm of snow. Trees were reported to have been blown down as well as damage reported to sprouts and shrubs.
Number of snowdays (assumed snow-lying, not falling) very large; in places in north there was 3 months cover.
 CET
 1879: (late Spring to late Summer)


 April to August … notably and persistently cold by CET series. For all these five months, the anomaly was greater than -1C, with April, May & July greater than -2C (wrt all-series mean).  CET
 1879: (Summer/early Autumn)


 Notably wet period. The five months May to September, 1879 accounted for 580mm of rain by the EWP series; circa 190%. The three ‘high-summer’ months of June, July & August each had nearly double average (1961-90) rainfall amounts and (up to 1999) was the second wettest summer in the EWP record. Lamb writes: ” the summer was the wettest and one of the .. coldest in the long instrument records for England. The cold, wet weather delayed the ripening of the harvest, so that even in East Anglia in some places the corn had not been gathered in by Christmas. The decline of English agriculture, which lasted for fifty years, dated from this time.”(Lamb/CHMW)
(Next time this wet in 1903; wettest summer in the series=1912).
 EWP, 1
 1879/80: (late Autumn/Winter)


 November to January .. notably and persistently cold again (see above) by CET series. Compared with continental Europe (see 2. below), the winter was not so severe, but deaths from cold were reported and evergreens were killed. On the 4th December, 1879, the temperature of (minus) 23degF (circa (minus) 31degC) was recorded at Blackadder, Berwickshire though this is not recognised due to poor exposure and lack of certified instrument. Being part of a severe winter, many reports of rivers frozen over. At Exeter, the River Exe was completely covered in ice. (Devon Co.C web site)
December 1879 was the coldest month of the 19th century in France & central Europe, and the cold persisted into January 1880; the Dutch waterways were frozen for nearly two months and in Paris, fifty people died of cold.
28th December, 1879: TAY BRIDGE DISASTER.
The original Tay Bridge (3km/1.85mi) railway crossing was the scene of a disaster during the evening when a section of the bridge was blown away in a storm as a train was crossing over it. Circa 75 deaths. Some tornadic activity evident as waterspouts were observed in the vicinity.
Notable drought from October to January. Over England & Wales, 40% or less of LTA, and even in Scotland, less than 60% of rainfall for many.
 18, CET,
GBWFF
 1879: (Annual)


 Unusually unsettled (see individual entries above), and thought to be comparable with worst years of the Little Ice Age; coldest year in London (?Kew) since detailed records first kept in 1841. By the wider-area CET record, with a value of 7.4degC (nearly two-and-a-half degC below modern-day means), it was the third coldest year in that series, only beaten by 1695 (7.3degC) & 1740 (6.8degC).
A wet summer – collapse of agriculture.
 1,
CET
 1880
(Spring / Summer / early Autumn)



 A fine spring / summer across Scotland. The summer is noted in contemporary reports as being ‘hot’. The harvest was finished early.  x
 1880
(late Autumn / Winter)



  Heavy fall of snow in NE Scotland in the 2nd week of October. Also heavy snow and severe frost in December – the latter being noted at the time as the most intense for 50 years. The harsh conditions continued into early New Year 1881 (see below).  x
 1881
(January)



 The easterly blizzard between the 18th and 20th in 1881 was most intense in central southern counties of England ( Dorset, Wiltshire, and the Isle of Wight ) giving about 1 metre of level snow in the Isle of Wight with heavy drifting. (One of the greatest on modern record). Affected the whole of England, except far north. About 100 people lost their lives and most businesses were halted for a day. Plymouth deprived of water for a week, and it took about a week before road and rail travel returned to normal. In London, the snow depth was about 25cm, with 1m drifts. Possible 5m drift in Oxford Circus. 2 m drifts in Portsmouth. 45cm depth in Brighton, 30cm in Exeter and on Dartmoor, as much as 100 cm.  11, 18
 1881
(July)



 Hot weather affected much of northern Europe through July, but for Britain, the heat only really extended to the London/SE region (see below in Scotland for example). Temperatures reached 35degC in Stevenson screen conditions at Camden Square, and around 32degC at other locations across SE & CS England. (‘Weather’ August 2004)  R MetS
 1881
(Summer/Autumn):



  Snow & frost in June in Scotland, with young grouse dying in large numbers. June, July & August were very cold, and snow fell on August 12th. Harvest began in the second week of October in wet, cold weather, and much of the harvest (corn) had to be brought in green.  x
 1881
(November)



 November 1881, with a CET value of 8.9degC (~ +3C on the all-series mean), comes within the ‘top-10’ of warmest Novembers in this long series. It was often windy, particularly so after mid-month. On the 26th/27th November, 1881, gales strong enough to be called ‘hurricanes’ toppled at least 500 trees in Betteshanger Park (Kent), and looking at the synoptic pattern of that date, there would have been high winds (& associated damage) elsewhere across Britain.   CET
 1882
(Summer)



 A wet summer across England & Wales with 303mm using the EWP measure: this represents around 150% of average (whole series). However, in the London area, based on the Kew Observatory record, it was not as wet: indeed only June had above average rainfall (118%), with August notably dry at 29mm (~50% LTA).
Contemporary records from Scotland indicate that it was also wet there, with a poor / delayed harvest.
 EWP, 8
 1882 (December)


 The heavy snowfall between the 4th and 8th December was the worst snowfall of 1882. Snow fell across southern Scotland, northern England and the northern-most parts of the Midlands. The snowstorm was known as the ‘Border Blizzard’. The depth of snow was reported to be over a metre high, with drifting causing roads and railways to be blocked. Nottingham received 15 cm of snow; Sheffield 50 cm, and snowdrifts of up to 6 m blocked roads in Derbyshire for several days. In Scotland, more than 30 cm of snow fell, while at Belvoir Castle, Leicestershire the heavy snowfall did much damage to trees and shrubs.  x
 1882
(Annual)



 A notably wet year by the EWP series – in the ‘top-10’ by that measure. However, in the Kew Observatory record, the anomaly for the whole year was just 107%, with only four months having above average rainfall. This suggests that the southeastern counties of England fared rather better than elsewhere. EWP, 8
 1883
(Spring)



 Lack of rainfall across Britain – ‘drought’ remarked upon across Scotland. Using the EWP series (not necessarily representative of the whole of Britain), the anomaly was between 60 and 70% of average for that season. A subsequent effect upon the harvest etc.  EWP
 1883: (August)


 ERUPTION OF KRAKATOA (then Dutch East Indies / now Indonesia Java).
August 26th to 29th, (peak / major eruption on 27th) – major eruption ejecting material into the stratosphere led to an estimated suppression of world temperatures by some 0.5degC, a significant amount. The dust veil has no effect on long-wave / outgoing radiation, but intercepts the solar / short-wave radiation, in this case, a decrease of some 10% is estimated to have occurred. It also led to some spectacular sunrises and sunsets: these were world-wide within two weeks of the primary eruption, and lasted for many months.
[ The following three winters were rather cold, at least in Europe. It also led to some spectacular sunrises and sunsets. As the dust veil spread around the globe: the main body of the cloud moved from east to west (in the stratosphere, showing for the first time that winds in these latitudes were predominantly easterly, at least in the summer half-year**), and completed at least two circuits of the earth in low latitudes. With one month, the cloud had spread laterally through the tropical belt but then took near 2 months to penetrate poleward across the northern-hemispheric sub-tropics. The noise of the explosion was heard for thousands of km and the pressure (gravity) wave was detected on barographs around the world.
(**Because the existence of the strong easterly winds in the stratosphere were revealed by this volcanic eruption, they were known for a long time as “Krakatoa winds”.)[Ref: Tropical Meteorology, H. Riehl, 1954]
(various
incl. VOLC)
 1883
(October)



 On the 13th, after a quiet start to the month, the weather became markedly cyclonic, with a persistent run of W or SW winds until well into the second-half of the month. On the 16th/17th, widespread gales, coupled to abnormally high tides caused significant flooding in areas adjacent to the Severn Estuary. In particular, the workings of the nearly completed Severn railway tunnel were flooded. From contemporary reports . . . “Then out of the darkness, there suddenly emerged a tidal-wave engulfing the land with a solid wall of water six feet high”. (var. histories of the Great Western Railway)  x
 1884-1902:


 (DRY LATE VICTORIAN PHASE)
For these 19 years, 15 had annual rainfall totals below the all-series average, with 5 of those years (1884, 1887, 1893, 1898 & 1902) notably dry. 1887 specifically was the third driest year in the EWP series (q.v.), and the other four had anomalies of 85% or lower. Notably low river flows recorded in parts of southern Britain, particularly over the chalks of SE England. It should be noted that this era coincided with rapid growth in urban areas, both in areal extent and population density: (The ‘Sherlock Holmes’ period!)
 EWP
 1884:
(January)



 LOWEST MSL PRESSURE IN BRITISH ISLES
The mean sea level pressure dropped to 925.6 mbar at Ochtertyre, Perthshire (26th). This occurred during the passage of an intense depression across Scotland.
x
 1885
(Annual)



 A chilly year. The overall CET anomaly for the year was -0.6degC, and for the summer in particular it was -0.7degC on the long-term average. The chill was not confined to England, as there are reports of a ‘cold, dry & windy’ year across Scotland. Frosts were frequent and late (in Spring).  CET
 1886
(February /
March)



 Significant snowstorm affected northern England end of February and early March.  18
 1886 (December)


 On the 26th, a heavy snowfall over southern Britain. The snowfall wrecked overhead telegraph wires and trees for several miles around London, as well as southern and SW England. Kent received over 30 cm of snow, with snowdrifts up to 2.5 metres.
Exceptionally sunny over England & Wales.
One of the deepest depressions on record crossed the north of Ireland this month in 1886. Around 1400hrs on 8th December, 1886, the sea level pressure at Belfast touched 927.2 mbar, a value that still stands as the British Isles December record. (as at 2006)(Burt/’Weather’/Feb2007)
 x
 1887
(Annual)



 An exceptionally dry year by the EWP series: 669mm. [ Driest in the series (up to 2002), were 1788 with 614mm and 1921 with 629mm ] . Severe drought recorded across Britain (i.e. not just England & Wales). Major impact upon water supplies, via rivers, wells, aquifers etc.
2. The focus of the drought occurred from February to July with anomalies across Britain roughly 50-75% of long term average for these 6 months.
 EWP, 18
 1887: (Spring)


 Notably and persistently cold by the CET series. Relative to modern-day means, the anomaly for March, April & May combined was over -2C.  CET
 1887
(October)



 Snow reported as lying on the streets in London on the 11th.  8
 1888
(Summer)



 In July of this year, ice is reported to have disrupted the fishing fleets in/out of the Faeroes .. this must imply markedly cold conditions at these latitudes, probably extending to at least the Shetland Isles. By the CET series, it was a notably cold summer, with a mean of 13.7degC – in the ‘top-10’ of coldest summers in that series.  CET, 1
 1890
(Summer)



 A notably cold summer in the CET record. The anomaly on the all-series mean was around -1.3C (much more on modern-day values), and this summer was one of a cluster of four ‘poor-to-indifferent’ summers in the first half of the 1890’s: 1890 itself, 1891, 1892 & 1894, all with anomalies of -0.7C or greater on the all-series mean.  CET
 1890/1891
(Winter)



 The winter of 1890/91 was remarkable for its long duration, from 25th November to 22nd January, rather than for the intensity of the frost. During this period the average temperature was below 0 degC over nearly the whole of England and Wales and below (minus) 1 degC in East Anglia and the south-east Midlands. Skating in Regent’s Park occurred on 43 days, the thickness of the ice exceeding 9 inches (circa 23cm) but the frost penetrated in the ground to a depth of only about 30cm. At Worcestershire, on the Rivers Severn & Avon, the ice was thick enough to allow ordinary road traffic to pass over the ice-covered river and to permit sheep & pigs to be roasted on the surface.
The first heavy snowfall of the year (1890) occurred between the 25th and 28th November with heavy snow falling over England, especially Kent when up to 60 cm of snow was reported, with 40 cm of snow falling at Ipswich, Suffolk. In Sussex, 30 cm of snow fell at Crowborough on the 26th. In the Ashdown Forest the snow caused evergreen trees to be damaged on the 27th.
A heavy snowfall occurred in England and Wales between the 18th and 20th December. A snowfall of 45 cm occurred at South Petherwin, Cornwall on the 20th, with over 30 cm of snow falling at Batheaston, Somerset on the same day. On the 18th, Llanfrechfa Grange, Gwent had just over 20 cm of snow, and on the 19th, Chepstow, Gloucestershire had a snowfall of 18 cm.
(CEPB): The synoptic pattern was dominated by a large anticyclone covering northern Europe with a marked ridge extending over southern England, giving almost continuous east or northeast winds. [ similar severity to 1946/47 ]
The CET value for the winter (DJF) was 1.5degC, representing an anomaly on the all-series mean of around minus 2C, and compared with ‘modern-day’ winters, something like minus 3C! In particular, December 1890, with a CET value of -0.8degC/~5C below average, is the coldest December in the CET record.
 18,
CET
 1891: (March)


 9-13th March 1891, easterly “blizzard”**. Heavy, fine powdery snow and strong easterly winds raged across SW England, southern England and Wales, with over half a million trees being blown down, as well as a number of telegraph poles. On the 9th (and later?), great snowstorm in the west of England, trains buried for days: E-NE gale, shipwrecks, many lives lost. (Eden notes: 220 people dead; 65 ships foundered in the English Channel; 6000 sheep perished; countless trees uprooted; 14 trains stranded in Devon alone.) Although the West Country was the worst affected, southern England, the Midlands, and south Wales also suffered. snowdrifts were ‘huge’ around some houses in the London – would be accounted a most remarkable sight nowadays! A man was reported found dead at Dorking, Surrey, while snowdrifts of 3.5 metres were recorded at Dulwich, London and Dartmouth, Devon. At Torquay and Sidmouth, Devon over 30 cm of snow fell.
**This may be the first time in the UK that the word ‘blizzard’ was used. Thought to derive from a German expression: ” Der sturm kommt blitzartig”, which translates as “The storm comes/came lightning-like”.
 
 1891 (May)


 On the 18th May 1891 snow fell over a wide area in the Midlands and East Anglia, to a depth of 15cm.  x
 1893 (Spring/early Summer)


 A notably dry season over England and Wales. (see also 1990). Some places in SE England had no rain for 60 consecutive days, from mid-March to mid-May with the longest absolute drought of all being at Mile End (London) from 4th March to 15th May. This (at 1993) is thought to be the longest period without measurable rain ever recorded in the British Isles. During the period March to June, in the SE of England some areas experienced less than 30% of average rainfall & over a wider area of England & Wales, the anomaly was under 45%.
Notably persistent warm weather over period April to June. The combined effect of the drought, above average temperatures and often intense/prolonged sunshine meant that by the 21st of June, many agricultural areas of southern England and the east Midlands were undergoing great stress: the ground parched, meadows burnt dry with many crops declared a failure. Fruit was withering (not helped by some sharp/late frosts in May) and the hay crop was much reduced; root crops also severely affected. (See article R. Brugge, ‘Weather’ May 1993).
 18, EWP
 1893 (August)


 On the 10th August in 1893, at Preston (Lancashire) a rainfall of 53mm in 35 minutes is thought to have included the highest known 5 minute fall in the United Kingdom – 31.7mm.  x
 1893
(Annual)



 In this year, a station on Jersey (details unknown at this time) recorded 2340 h of bright sunshine. If this value was recorded using a Campbell-Stokes recorder exposed & used to a standard practice, then it would represent the highest known annual sunshine total within the British Isles in the sunshine-recorder record (starts ~ 1880). (See also 1959)  MWR
 1894
(November)



  MAJOR THAMES-VALLEY FLOOD
1. Major flooding across the mid/upper Thames Valley (i.e. non-tidal leg). The differences above the normal (“summer”) prediction at various points were: Oxford +3.7ft; Reading +6.8ft; Maidenhead +7.9ft; Windsor +8.9ft; Kingston +11.5ft. (TEC).
At the upper Thames recording point of Shillingford Wharf, the flood-level was 46.96m above OD, the second highest at this point, (and up to 2003), in that record. The Thames burst its banks and affected scores of towns / hamlets along the river, and many thousands were driven from their homes. (The peak date of the flood events is given as the 17th November.) The floods were stated at the time to be so spectacular and widespread as to be regarded as the greatest floods ever, and a ‘yardstick’ by which future inundations are measured.
[ see also 1774 ]
Using the EWP series, the anomaly for October + November ~ 130% of the all-series average.
 6, EWP
 1894/95
(Winter)



 Exceptionally cold / wintry from 30/12/1894 to 05/03/1895. To horticulturists and ice skaters in East Anglia, it was the winter of the ‘ twelve week frost ‘. Thousands skated on the frozen Serpentine in London, including a detachment of soldiers. Records from Cambridge Observatory show that there were actually air frosts on 70 of the 84 nights between 26th December 1894 and 20th March 1895. In particular, the mean air temperature recorded in London from the 26th January to 19th February was around -3degC: From the 9th to the 17th February, the whole of the Thames was reported as more or less blocked by ice-floes, some 6 to 7ft thick (circa 2m). [ It is not clear where this observation was made, but I suspect that this was referring to the Pool of London – a very important port for transfer of goods.] Water mains were frozen well below the surface to a depth of 2 to 3 ft (just under 1m).
January 1895: A lot of snow, both from frequent showers off the sea, and midmonth heavy snow over England and Wales with 1m or so of snow reported from Faringdon, Berkshire, and many places reported 8 to 15cm deep, with strong SE winds (classic block/anticyclone to NE of British Isles, with Atlantic frontal systems attempting to penetrate from the south & SW).
After a relatively mild spell mid month, renewed heavy snow in strong northerly winds with trains again getting stuck in NE Scotland & East/NE England.
The month of February 1895 stands out at Oxford as having the lowest average minimum temperature (minus 5.6 degC) and the highest number of ground frosts (27) for any February in the 113 years to 1993 at the Radcliffe Observatory. From the 9th to the 17th February the whole of the Thames was more or less blocked by ice-floes, some of them 6 or 7 feet thick. The non-tidal mid/upper Thames frozen at various times, with reports of an Ox being roasted on the Thames at Kingston & coaches (horse-drawn) crossed the river at Oxford. Similar tales of thick ice, with “roasts” etc., are listed for the Rivers Severn & Avon in Gloucestershire & Worcestershire & adjacent counties.
2. Second coldest winter in a Manchester long-period record (from 1888), comprising Manchester (Prestwich) 1888-1900; Manchester (Whitworth Park) 1901-1941; & Manchester (Ringway) from 1942.
The coldest winter was, as in many places in England & Wales, in 1962/63. However, in the CET series, the winter of 1894/95 did not appear in the top 7 cold winters, so the fact that Manchester stands out is interesting.
3. The UK lowest (known) air temperature was recorded during this winter: -27.2degC at Braemar (Grampian) on the 11th February 1895. [ It is equalled by the same value at the same place recorded on the 10th January, 1982. ]
 18
 1895
(February to
June)



 A five month drought, with anomalies on long-term average circa 60-70% over the whole of Britain, but some places notably less.  18
 1896
(January to
May)



 A dry period across Britain: anomaly circa 60-80% taking these 5 months overall.  18
 1897 (January)


 Some of the few heavy snowfalls of this year occurred on 22nd/23rd January. Blizzards occurred between Aberdeen and Kent.  x
 1897
(November)



  Exceptionally heavy daily rainfalls included 204mm at Seathwaite (Cumbria / Lake District) on the 12th November in 1897. [This was noted at the time as 15mm higher than the previous daily highest fall on a record at the site back to 1844.](See Burt & others, ‘Weather’/RMetS/August 2005)  x
 1899 (Summer)


 Notable drought with extended heatwaves. The total rainfall for the summer months amounted to roughly 65% of the long-term average, so not particularly exceptional, but coupled with the high-heat, and the fact that the previous year (1898) was very dry, extreme distress resulted. The summer (June, July & August) temperature (average=16.9degC) in the English lowlands are said to be on a par with those of 1995 (q.v.).  CET,
EWP
1900-1909

1900 (February):
1. One of the WETTEST Februarys across England & Wales (using the EWP series).
1901 (December):
1. NE GALE/SNOWSTORM 12th: cut communications in all parts of England. (TEC). This was caused by a DEEP DEPRESSION moving east up the English Channel. In England, SNOW heavily blocked roads and caused havoc for livestock. Many telegraph wires were brought down and the railways were brought to a standstill.
1902 (31st January): HIGHEST RECORDED ATMOSPHERIC PRESSURE BRITISH ISLES.
1. The mean sea level PRESSURE reached 1053.6 mbar at Aberdeen Observatory in north-eastern Scotland on the 31st January, 1902 at 2200GMT. (This value was incorrectly listed as 1054.7mbar for over 80 years, due to an incorrect conversion from inHg to mbar: see ‘Weather’/July 2006/S.Burt). This is the highest authenticated MEAN SEA LEVEL PRESSURE value known in the British Isles.
1902/03: (various): VOLCANIC ERUPTIONS
1. The following volcanic eruptions are known about this time, which may have resulted (or at least played a part) in the ‘poor’ weather that follows:
8th May 1902: Pelee (Martinique) [ destroyed the city of St. Pierre, with 29000 deaths: possibly the deadliest volcanic explosion of the 20th century.]
24th October 1902: Santa Maria (Guatemala) [ killed at least 5000 – large ash deposit, noted as far away as San Francisco, California. ]
February & March 1903: Colima (Mexico)
>According to a diagram in [VOLC], the intensity of solar radiation decreased by between 10 & 20% after these events. (‘The Weather’, Kimble & Bush; ‘Volcanoes’, Decker & Decker)
1902 (Summer):
1. The CET value of 14.3degC was low, but not exceptional in this series (about 1C below the all-series mean); however, according to the University of Berne (reported by the RMetS/’Weather’ 2004), this summer across the whole of Europe was the COLDEST in a joint proxy / instrumental series which began in 1500.
1902 (Annual):
1. A notably DRY year across England and Wales (using the EWP series).
1903 (February):
1. A notable RED RAIN (i.e. dust rain) event across the southern half of England & Wales (and large parts of Europe) 21st-23rd February, 1903. The dust/sand originated in the Sahara.
1903 (May to September): NOTABLY WET SUMMER & AUTUMN
1. These 5 months were all notably WETTER than average: the EWP % anomalies were 129%, 128%, 168%, 160% and 132% (relative to the 1961-90 mean), which is an average of 143% overall. As noted below, October was also very wet, and adding this month in, the six months total EWP was 715mm (161%). Specifically for the London area (based on Kew), the summer period in 1903 was the WETTEST in that series which started in 1697 (‘Weather’ October 2004/R MetS/Mayes).
2. As to TEMPERATURES, for the three summer months (June, July & August), the anomaly on CET for these was -1.3, -0.6 & -1.3C. For Kew specifically, the mean TEMPERATURE anomaly was -2C, with June notably COLD. The anomaly on June MAXIMUM temperature at Kew was -3C. Using the Camden Square (Westminster) record, it was the COLDEST June for 46 years.
1903 (October): EXCEPTIONALLY WET MONTH OVER ENGLAND & WALES.
With 218mm in the long-period England and Wales Rainfall series (began 1766), this was the wettest month (any month) in that series. The next closest (20th century only) was November, 1940 with 197mm.
1903 (Annual):
1. Notably WET by the EWP series: in the ‘top-10’ of wet years in that series, and the wettest year since 1872. (For London/Kew Observatory specifically, it was the WETTEST year in a series that began in 1697).
1904 (November):
1. There was widespread SNOW between the 20th and 23rd in 1904 when a large area of southern Scotland and northern England averaged 46cm of level snow, with heavy drifting in places.
1905 (January):
1. PRESSURE (MSL) of 1053.1 mbar recorded at Falmouth Observatory (Cornwall) on the 28th. (According to Stephen Burt, the England & Wales record).
1905 (Annual):
1. A notably DRY year across England and Wales (using the EWP series).
1906 (Summer):
1. A fine summer. It ended with an intense HEATWAVE at the end of August 1906. TEMPERATURES reached or exceeded 32degC widely on four consecutive days from the 31st August. Of note, the September record MAXIMUM of 35.6degC was set at Bawtry, South Yorkshire on the 2nd September.
1906 (November):
1. A MAXIMUM TEMPERATURE of 20.0degC was recorded on the 23rd November, 1906 at Lairg (Highlands/SE end of Loch Shin). One of only a handful of >=20degC readings in November in the reliable UK thermometer record.
1906 (December):
1. HEAVY SNOWSTORMS 26th-30th in much of Scotland, as a succession of polar lows/troughs moved south in an arctic airstream. Widespread SNOW elsewhere across Britain, the snow though not reaching the London area until early on the 26th. Severe transport dislocation across northern Scotland (Aberdeen and other centres isolated for at least 3 days), and snow disruption elsewhere over Britain.
1907 (July):
1. During the afternoon of the 22nd July, 1907, HEAVY THUNDERSTORMS occurred across a wide area of England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland. These caused extensive FLOODING in urban areas and severely DAMAGED standing crops in the countryside. In Watford (Hertfordshire), significant FLOODING occurred. This was caused by over 60 mm of RAIN falling in a couple of hours. In South Wales, at least 80 mm of RAIN was recorded from one location in Monmouthshire, together with a SEVERE HAILSTORM and associated LIGHTNING DAMAGE. The HAIL (possibly as large as ‘pigeons eggs’) completely blocked a river & stripped trees of bark and foliage and was still evident 10 days later (as ice). (Currie, TEC & others)
1907 (October):
1. Very WET, though there were at least 18 wetter such-named months in the England & Wales Precipitation series (1766-2005). The EWP figure of 153 mm represents roughly 170% of the series average, and as this is an ‘areal’ value, some places in England & Wales at least would have been much WETTER. For example, at Ross-on-Wye (Herefordshire), the monthly total was 216 mm (or about 8.5 inches), and in some parts of Dorset, over 250 mm (or nearly 10 inches) of RAIN fell. (Currie/Weather Eye & MWR/Met Office)
1908 (April):
1. In 1908 a SNOWY week over most of the United Kingdom culminated on the 24th and 25th in one of the heaviest spring snowfalls on record in southern England.
1908 (July):
1. Very high TEMPERATURE recorded in southern Scotland. On the 2nd, the maximum was 32.8degC at Dumfries (Dumfries & Galloway) .. see also 2003.
1908 (December):
1. 26th to 29th December: HEAVY SNOWFALL over many parts of Great Britain, causing significant road (& railway?) chaos. On the 29th, 18 to 20 cm of SNOW fell at Southampton, Hampshire and up to 25cm in Dumfries and Galloway.
1908 (Annual):
1. A notable year for HEAVY SNOWFALL.
1909 (Summer):
1. One of the 15 or so COLDEST summers using the CET record (13.9degC) across England & Wales [in a record back to 1659].
1909 (December):
1. 19th to 21st December: Scotland, Wales and England (except the south): HEAVY SNOWFALL. In Cardiganshire (Wales), the Peak District (central England) and along the Welsh coasts, roads were heavily blocked with SNOW.

1910-1919

1910 (January):
1. 26th and 28th January: HEAVY SNOWFALL over Scotland and northern England.
1911 (31st May): SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS OVER ENGLAND.
1. Violent thunderstorms were reported from many parts of lowland England on this day, with local flooding/landslips, lightning and gust damage. In particular, a total of 17 people were killed in the London area, and 4 horses died on Epsom Downs on this ‘Derby Day’.
1911 (Summer):
1. Notably WARM (& for some SUNNY, see below) summer: one of the top 7 or so of the century, and just in the ‘top-10’ all-series summers (as at 2007). Using the CET series (began in 1659), the values for the three ‘standard’ summer months of June, July & August (with all-series anomalies) were: 14.5 (+0.2), 18.2 (+2.3), 18.2 degC(+2.6C). The July value placed that month just outside the ‘top-10’ for that month, but that for August is ranked about 6th or 7th: certainly in the ‘top-10’ in this very long series! All the more remarkable, as the 50-years 1900-1949 contained only 4 VERY WARM summers, compared for example with 7 in the period 1950-1999.
2. MAXIMUM TEMPERATURE on 9th August at Raunds (Northamptonshire) and Canterbury (Kent) 36.7degC (98degF/converted?). Until the Augusts 1990 & 2003, the highest known / accepted in UK).
3. July 1911 was a spectacularly SUNNY month. There was an average of over 10 hours of bright sunshine (as recorded by the Campbell-Stokes recorder) over much of southern England. 384 hours of bright SUNSHINE were recorded at Eastbourne and Hastings, East Sussex during this month, and these are thought to be the highest sunshine totals recorded anywhere for any month in the UK. (NB: in July, not June!). For the SE of England as a whole, with something like 300-350 hours of BRIGHT SUNSHINE, this month (with July 2006) is regarded as the SUNNIEST month (any month) on record, though comparison with late 20th century / 21st century figures are difficult due to changing instrumentation.
1912 (January):
1. 8th January: HEAVY SNOWFALL on this day. 25cm in Tayside at Crieff. Later in the month, on 17th/18th January, the HEAVIEST SNOWFALL of 1912 occurred, affecting all parts except southern England. Disrupting traffic and breaking down trees.
1912 (March):
1. Notably WET across England & Wales (using the EWP series).
1912 (Summer):
1. Notably WET for the months of June, July & August. 409mm in the EWP series ~ 200% of modern-day averages. The WETTEST such defined summer in the EWP series. August 1912 was EXCEPTIONALLY WET with 193mm of RAIN, the wettest such-named month in the EWP series.
1912 (Autumn):
1. A notably COLD period August, September and October: CET values were (with anomalies to 1961-90 averages): August: 12.9(-2.9)/coldest such-named month in the entire series, September: 11.1(-2.5)/in the ‘top-10’ of coldest Septembers, and October: 8.2degC(-2.4C); The prolonged spell of depressed temperatures may have resulted from the eruption of a volcano (Katmai) in Alaska on 6th June, 1912. From a diagram in ‘Volcanoes’ [VOLC], the decrease in intensity of solar radiation following this event was between 10 & 20%, and may have been greater than that for Krakatau in 1883.
1912 (November):
1. 29th/30th November: A depression advanced east across southern regions of England, with SNOW in many places. In the northern parts of Great Britain, SNOW fell to 20 or 25cm, as far north as Strathclyde.
1913 (January):
1. 11th/12th January: a HEAVY SNOWFALL in southern Scotland and northern England. SNOW fell in a considerable depth, especially in Perthshire with SNOWDRIFTS of up to 3m in places. Railway and postal services were delayed.
1914 (March):
1. A very WET March across England & Wales. The EWP value was 120mm, around 160% of LTA and within the ‘top-10’ of wet Marches in that series. The WET weather was particularly a problem for East Anglia, with local anomalies of around 200% leading to much FLOODING. In London, it was the WETTEST March until 1947.
1914 (December):
1. 28th December: HEAVY SNOW event over England. SNOW, very thick and of an ‘unusual’ size (?) caused damage to many trees. At Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire HEAVY SNOW fell for 4 hours amounting to a depth of 18cm.
1914 (Annual):
1. 31 DEATHS from LIGHTNING in this year. (TORRO).
1914/1915 (Winter):
1. The WETTEST winter in the EWP series (as at 1999) with 423mm for December, January and February. At Coulsdon (Surrey) the total was some 500mm.
1915/1916 (Winter):
1. A notably WET winter by the EWP series. 374mm for December, January and February. (see also 1959/60). NB: this might also imply that areas across the English Channel were also WET, and of course at this time, the protagonists taking part in the ‘Great War’ (UK, France, Germany & their allies) were suffering in the ‘sea of mud’ in the trenches of NE France & the Ardennes.
2. A notably WET February across England & Wales (using the EWP series).
1916 (March):
1. A WIDESPREAD SEVERE NORTHERLY GALE (STORM TO SEVERE STORM-FORCE in southeast England) & associated BLIZZARD affected much of East Anglia, the east & south Midlands, parts of Southeast England & the West of England/West Country during the 27th & 28th March, 1916. Large numbers of trees brought down due to combination of wet / sticky SNOW freezing on boughs, and HIGH WINDS/northerly (over eastern areas to at least Beaufort Force 9 or 10, with Kew Observatory reporting Force 11 for a short time early evening of the 28th as the parent low moved NE across SE England and onto the Netherlands by the 29th**). The SNOW set in after nightfall of the 27th, and in some places lasted over 24hr. SNOW depths were difficult to ascertain due to DRIFTING / BLIZZARD-conditions, but some reports of 15-20cm over East Midlands seem credible. 48hr RAIN/SNOW totals in a broad swathe from the Wash / Norfolk, across the northern & far western Home Counties, to Somerset, Devon & Cornwall exceeded 25-30mm, and in the Fens/East Midlands, upwards of 50-60mm fell, with stations in Northamptonshire recording over 70mm for these 48hr. (It was also very WET (mixed RAIN/SNOW here) in Cornwall.) Much DISRUPTION to transport, both road & railway, across the southeastern ‘quadrant’ of England – also large number of telephone / telegraph lines cut due to weight of snow. At Margate (Kent) much DAMAGE to shop fronts, with Dover recording GUSTS to 75kn. (**lowest PRESSURE estimated for this system 968mbar in Lyme Bay at 0100GMT on the 28th.) [ based on article in ‘Weather’ / RMetS 2004 ]
1916 (October):
1. On the 11th in 1916, 208.3 mm of RAIN fell at Kinlochewe (Kinlochquoich / western Scotland). At the time, the highest 24hr rainfall recorded in the British Isles, and now amongst the top 6 or 7 such events – still (at 2005) the HIGHEST for October.
1916/1917 (Winter):
1. One of the most SEVERE WINTERS of the 20th century up to 1939/40. A major problem in the Great War for all the parties to the conflict.
2. Feb/Mar/Apr CET values (anomalies) were: Feb: 0.9(-2.9), Mar: 3.2(-2.5), Apr: 5.4(-2.5).
3. 16th January 1917: HEAVY SNOWFALL in England. 31cm at West Witton, West Yorkshire and 15cm at Durham. This was followed by a HEAVY SNOWFALL in England between the 25th and 26th January.
4. 26th January: HIGH TIDES and SEVERE GALES combined to bring a disaster to the English Channel coast of the SW peninsula. The small fishing village of Hallsands (South Hams of Devon, close to Start Point) was all but destroyed when high winds / high seas broke over the few cottages in the village. No-one was killed, but the village was virtually abandoned. (Apparently previous dredging elsewhere to support the enlarged harbour at Devonport down the coastline was a contributory cause, with the fore-shore becoming destabilised as a result.)
1917 (Summer):
1. A WET summer in the EWP series, with 138% of LTA (1916-1950). It was especially WET in the Kew Observatory series: 314mm was recorded there for the three summer months, representing nearly twice the long-term average. I think it reasonable to assume that this excessive RAINFALL was also representative of conditions across the Channel along the northern portions of the War Front (French/British/German).
2. On the 28th of June, a shallow depression moving eastward along the English Channel brought remarkably HEAVY RAINFALL to a large area of southern England: falls in excess of 50 mm were recorded from Cornwall to Sussex with a daily/24hr RAINFALL total of 242.8mm recorded at Bruton in Somerset (about 127mm in 3 hours and 165mm in 5 hours). With only sporadic thunder, the bulk of the fall was made up by a spell of steady/heavy rain over a wide of areas during the night. The Bruton event is the highest known for June, and amongst the top 3 or 4 for the entire record. 213.1mm was recorded nearby in the Quantocks, at Aisholt, and 150mm at Street, Glastonbury. Needless to say, such rain led to FLOODING.
1918 (January):
1. 7th January: HEAVY SNOWFALL: northern Scotland badly affected. At Deemess, Orkney, SNOWDRIFTS of 120cm were reported, while the Highland railway in Sutherland and Caithness was blocked by SNOW for some days. This was followed over England by HEAVY SNOW between the 15th and 16th January. In the East Anglian Fens, SNOW fell to a depth of 15cm, while in the Welsh mountains a number of sheep were lost in SNOWDRIFTS.
1919 (January):
1. The first major SNOWFALL of 1919 occurred in the first week of January between the 3rd and 4th. HEAVY SNOW occurred in the Midlands and northern England, causing damage to telegraph wires in Derbyshire and 35cm of SNOW to fall at Buxton, Derbyshire. On the 3rd, 22cm fell in Manchester. This was followed at the end of the month by another HEAVY SNOWFALL in the Midlands and northern England between the 27th/28th.
1919 (March/April):
1. A COLD couple of spring months (CET anomalies -1.6C and -0.8C respectively) and one of the WETTEST Marchs over England & Wales (using the EWP series); April had near-average RAINFALL.
2. During March 1919 there were several falls of SNOW in the London area, the heaviest fall being on the 27th with a depth of 23cm noted.
3. In April, the widespread deep SNOWFALL as late as the 27th was most remarkable. It was deepest in the eastern half of England, including the London area, where in many places there was 30 cm of level snow.
1919 (September):
1. A late spell of HOT weather early in the month. (Raunds, Northamptonshire max on the 11th was 32.2degC, Nottingham on the same day 29.4degC: the next day [ 12th ] Nottingham MAXIMUM was just 13.9 degC).
2. Following the hot spell (see above), there was an exceptionally EARLY SNOWFALL overnight 19th / 20th of several inches (at least 2 inches/ 5cm at Princeton) on Dartmoor and other elevated areas (Herefordshire specifically known: elevation ~300ft), with snow of lesser cover being reported from Wales, The Midlands, Dorset & Devon. Reports of snow cover at low levels in Scotland & Northern England, with a substantial covering over higher ground throughout Wales (lying on slopes of the Black Mountains/SE Wales down to an altitude of 1300ft), covering the Clee Hills in Shropshire and also over Exmoor and Dartmoor (see above). Sleet showers observed at lower levels as far south as the Thames Valley. Cyclonic/northerly flow.
1919 (November):
1. The 11th (the first anniversary of the armistice), saw the start of a notably SEVERE/WINTRY spell. On the night 11th/12th, a SEVERE SNOWSTORM occurred, depositing 8 inches (20 cm) in the streets of Edinburgh, 12 inches over Dartmoor, and 17 inches at Balmoral.(GPE) Even in southern England, SNOW fell on 7 days or more during the month.

1920-1929

1920 (May):
1. THUNDERSTORMS in central and northern England on the 29th May in 1920 resulted in serious damage, and people were DROWNED in their homes: in Louth, Lincolnshire, at least 104mm of RAIN fell in two hours (and 117 or 119 mm in three hours depending upon source, from about 2pm – see below), flooding the town. The “Louth storm” was probably one of the most SEVERE in the 20th century. A depression moved north on the 29th. A storm developed on its cold front. Not only was the rain heavy at Louth, but at Elkington Hall, three miles to the west, 117mm (or 119mm, sources differ) fell in three hours. Even more probably fell to the west, and recent estimates state at least 150mm during the storm, possibly much more. As water fell on the Lincolnshire Wolds, the River Lud rose by 6 feet (about 2 m) in 10 minutes, with FLOODING, destruction of bridges, and 23 people were drowned as a torrent 200 yards wide swept through the village of Louth, which formed a bottleneck to the river and its tributaries. The river rose to 15 feet (4.6m) above normal, in just 15 minutes if eye-witness reports can be believed. (NB: on the same day 42mm fell in twenty minutes and a total RAINFALL for the storm of 82mm at Leyland, Lancashire.)
1920 (Summer):
1. A notably COLD summer using the CET record. The value was 14.0degC, placing it in the 15 or so coldest summers in the series.
1920 (December):
1. Eastern and southern England: HEAVY SNOWFALL 11th/12th December – The SNOW was reported as ‘very dry’. It fell without any wind, and as a result, no drifting occurred. Clacton (Essex) and Salcombe (South Hams of south Devon) received depths of 35cm. Further HEAVY SNOWFALL was reported daily until the 16th. In Plymouth it lay on the ground for 10 days. This was considered (at the time) to be the worst snow in the district since the blizzard of March 1891.
1921 (March – November):
1. In the EWR series, the DRIEST such period in the entire series (started in 1727).
1921 (July):
1. Within a remarkably DRY (extended) spell [ see above & below ], this month was both DRY & very WARM. The EWP value of 29 mm was no record, but represented around 50% of the long-term mean. However, the TEMPERATURES averaged over England & Wales came out at 18.5degC (CET), an anomaly of some +2.5C, and well into the ‘top-10’ of WARMEST Julys in that series (started 1659).
1921 (19th to 21st November): PERSISTENT DENSE FOG EVENT
1. Dense fog blanketed many parts of England during this period, causing many road traffic accidents and seriously disrupting railway services, in the days before automatic warning and signalling systems. Severe delays to shipping on the Thames – in those days the Ports of L
s

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; )


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