Members of the Netweather community
were invited to send in their winter memories of days gone by, below are a selection of them, including memories from some infamous winters - 1962/3 being the most notable of those.
We're always keen to add to this feature, so if you have a winter memory - good or bad that you would like to share please feel free to add it as as a comment below or send it to us by clicking here
December 1995 - written by 'Norrance' (click here to view)
I have several good and a few not so pleasant memories of winters past. One good memory from the not too distant past [well 12 years now] that sprung to mind was the Festive period in 1995.
I took my then fiance [now better half] up to a Christmas family get together in at my parents home Highland Perthshire on Christmas Eve. We left Dundee at lunchtime in cold clear weather with a slight covering of snow on the ground from earlier showers. Fifty odd miles North West and an hour and a half later we arrived in Highland Perthshire where there was about an inch and a half of powdery snow and a mid afternoon temperature of -3C in bright sunshine and calm.
After the evening meal the younger adults [including us] walked down to the pub in the local town for a drink. I remember my wife and sister-in-law being amazed by a local retired forestry worker as he came into the pub wearing on his upper half only a white shirt though there was a vest underneath. Being from the area we were not surprised as nobody had ever seen him out for the night dressed differently, summer or winter, whatever the weather. Later people entering the pub were wiping snow off their jackets and a little snow could be seen by the streetlights through the window.
We left the pub at elevenish to find still light snow falling, but more significantly a strengthening north wind was beginning to blow the lying powder about like spindrift. The polar low was coming! Retiring to bed a little later there was no noticeable change though the wind was still increasing.
We woke up the next morning to look out on a sea of white. It was impossible to differentiate between the falling and drifting snow and we could not see the nearest house, just up the road. The back grass was almost bare but against the dyke there was a huge drift. A proper blizzard with winds of plus 30mph and heavy snow drifting in the wind and sub zero temperatures. This lasted until midday exactly when suddenly the wind dropped and a line of blue appeared. Ten minutes later the clouds had disappeared altogether and there was not a breath of wind. The temperature also plummeted and by mid afternoon was down to -8C. A pre-lunch walk in the bracing air did everyone some good but the kids were totally disappointed as the snow was too fine and cold to even make a snowball, never mind a snowman. Level snow was around 6 inches but the roads were blown clear in most places though there were large drifts against the walls and in any hollows and South facing slopes. Good enough to take a large leap into for those who were so inclined.
The temperature continued to drop heralding a week of extreme frost with daytimes struggling to get up to minus single figures and the last time my mothers weather station recorded sub minus twenties. From my memory this was the only time that this occurred in December [not sure 1981?] and the first time since January 1982.
Apart from a flurry no more snow fell but though I have seen much deeper and longer lasting snow this one sticks in the mind due to the temperatures and high winds.
We left on the 29th and my parents went up to Aviemore that day to bring in the New Year with other relatives. The down side followed as at some time over the next couple of days despite central heating, the water pipes in the attic burst [including one to the shower that was fully protected] flooding the house for their return.
February 1979 - written by 'Rollo' (click here to view)
The year is 1979 and the month February and we started getting heavy snow showers around midday with the temperature aropund -4c, the minor blizzards continued throughout the day and by the following morning we were cut off to both the North and the South. The showers cleared by early morning and the day was sunny and bitterly cold with a strong NE wind,I went for a walk to the village(about a mile) and as I returned I lost feeling in both my fingers and toes despite having thick gloves on and heavy fur lined boots,it took me the best part of an hour for things to return to normal,I presume I suffered from frostbite.
By the evening the road into Newcastle had been reopened and I decided to see just how bad things were on the way into town, the road past the airport amazed me in so much as what had been a straight road now had a chicane in it and there was a wall of snow of about 20 feet high jutting out where the road should have been,I found out later that this was a burried double decker bus!!
March 1979 - written by 'Rollo' (click here to view)
One of my most distinct memories was of a huge snowstorm we had here back in March 79' I think it was the Saturday (it started snowing the day before and snowed continuously until Sunday at 4 pm,I digress slightly,on leaving for work on the Saturday morning( I live on the main road to scotland via Carter Bar and am 1 mile North of Newcastle airport) the road was only passable by driving on the grass verge on the wrong side of the road,about half a mile there is a roundabout and at this point it dawned on me that there was no way of proceeding further,visibility was very bad and the roundabout was impassible,I decided to get out of the car and just survey the arctic scene (something I have not seen since) and whilst looking South I heard a sort of whoosh and a skier appear out of the blizzard having skied over a 6 foot fence that was totally buried-she had come from an estate some 3 miles away and it was great to see someone enjoying the conditions so much.
Winter 1962/3 - written by 'Polar Continental' (click here to view)
Hello everyone, here are some of my memories of the 1962 / 63 winter.
It was a long time ago and I was just a kid, my memories are still very vivid.
I have been interested in the weather as long as I can remember.
During that famous winter I was just a boy of 10, listening to the forecast every day on the BBC home service at 5:55pm in the evenings and on BBC television seemed the most important thing in my life then.
In my opinion the forecasts in those days were presented much better then today, and the pressure charts were shown with great enthusiasm by Bert Ford, Jack Scot etc. they were also given more airtime, I loved watching their presentations, and sure they contributed greatly to my developing interest in the weather; they certainly educated me, thatís a fact.
Here is a little snippet from the MO reporting the winds of change; the foundations were just being laid for the biggest freeze of the 20th Century.
ĎSynoptic Situation at 0600 22/12/1962 next day.
Strong rises of pressure have occurred on a large scale and the main high
over Russia has moved W, 1040mb, over the Baltic States and is expected to
move to Denmark. A smaller high W of Ireland, yesterday, has moved NE to SW
England and will link with the main European high soon. Front lies down
coast of Norway, moving slowly E and its counterpart over Germany and France
is moving W as a cold front.'
Most records as far as the 62 / 63 freeze mention the start around Boxing Day, but many days of very cold weather preceded the first snowfall. Here frost and freezing fog had persisted night and day and me and my friends discovered a great way to have fun, by filling buckets with water and throwing them down our garden path, the water froze almost immediately on contact making great slides for me and my friends, we had endless fun. Also the hoar frost and rime had built up to such an extent we were able to go sledging on the nearby fields and this was amazing fun on the solid frozen ground, actually believe it or not, it was faster than on snow. Can you imagine doing that today?, all frost has melted by 10 am.
By January cold was so intense that the underground water pipes froze in the road, our water was cut off. I remember my dad having to smash ice out of our soft water tub and melt it in the kettle just to get a drink. God knows what we did for a bath!! We couldn't flush the outside toilet, as that had been frozen solid for days, the luxury of indoor toilet were then only for the rich.
Snow. One morning I remember looking out of the window, it was bitterly cold and cloudy and a few dry snowflakes were blowing in the wind, but this soon stopped and I was disappointed, but not for long. During the early evening I looked out in to the street and noticed heavy snow blowing past the lamppost.
My wish was coming true, that night I went to bed and each time I woke, all I could here was a sound like sand being blown in to the bedroom windows, I think I must have been out of bed more than a dozen times that night to look out. The snow was coming down so heavy, it looked more like curtains of thick fog.
The morning brought an amazing site, snow had drifted half way up the living room windows and my dad had to dig his way to the coalhouse.
Obviously most people in those days, didn't have central heating or double-glazing, electric blankets etc, we just had a coal fire in the living room, which had always gone out by the morning.
On waking most mornings during that winter, I would have to scrape ice from the inside of my bedroom window to see outside. Even my fish tank froze in my bedroom on one occasion, I remember my dad saying, because the hot water bottle had gone cold, he chucked out of the bed during the night, on waking the next morning he found it frozen solid on the bedroom floor.
Amazingly despite the endless days of snow and freezing weather, our school never once closed, but I do remember us having to wear our hats and coats to lessons.
(Kids don't know their born today lol)
I suppose today now with all the home comforts we can enjoy any cold weather rather than dread it, as most older people did in those days, having to go without water because the pipes had frozen, not being able to wash / or not wanting to, because it was to cold, outside toilet frozen solid, with only a candle to try and thaw it. I think most people would wish away a winter like that if they lived in those times.
Like most cold lovers on here my interest in the weather was probably due to a very notable weather event, my interest deepened further during 62 / 63, I became totally hooked and I am just as fanatical today.
Various winters - written by 'Mick' (click here to view)
My favourite memories have to be when i was about 12-13. heavy snow fall had made the area i live in completely white. but the best part of it was the grass ravine near where i lived. with little else to do during the xmas break we would beg, borrow, steal anything we could to improvise sledges and with no fear slide down on nothing much more than the seat of our pants this steep hill. at the bottom of which was a lake. which i only ever remember once been frozen over. we tested the thickness by sending my mates dog onto it.
Another winter i remember well was about 20 years ago, i was working on a building and it was so cold that a cup of coffee would form a thin layer of ice on it if left too long. we worked with 2 pairs of gloves on somedays.
Oh and finally the winter of 86/87. it seemed as if it would never stop snowing. we were let off work early and the strenuous walk to the pub each day was well rewarded.
January 1987 - written by 'Nick F' (click here to view)
January 1987 cold spell
My memories of this severe cold spell are that it started on the weekend of the 10/11th, a cold front swept through from the east late that Saturday introducing very cold Polar Continental air from the east. The country file forecast that Sunday, must have missed it, must have been the most exciting ever, think it was the forecast where John Kettley said: "the only bright thing about this forecast is my tie"
Sunday dawned grey and raw with snow flurries during the morning, during the afternoon flurries turned to more persistent snow. I remember coming home on a train from London that afternoon and the drab grey-green Kent countryside under slate grey skies soon turned into a white winter wonderland as we headed SE and snow became increasingly heavy. The snow was of the dry powdery nature, and I remember this quality well as it was coming through the train doors and blew with great ease in the strong Easterly winds across the roads, which we found out as we struggled home along country roads, getting out with other motorists to shovel a way through. Back then, a shovel was an essential piece of equipment when snow was forecast!
On the Monday morning, snow lay thick from continuous snowfalls overnight, though that day was mainly clear and sunny but perishing cold with maximum temps well below freezing, The snow depth was enough to prevent me going to school that day, it was a familiar winter event in the early to mid 80s to listen to the local radio stations to hear which schools had closed, most had closed. I remember it being so cold that even with the central heating on full blast and a roaring log fire, you could still feel the cold outside radiating through the windows, so one half of you was warm and the other half cold. The stats this day (12th) showed that it was one of the coldest days of the century, maximum daylight temperatures were as low as -8C at Reigate, Surrey; Okehampton, Devon; and Middleton, Derbyshire. Only right on the east coast, west Scotland, and Ireland had maxima above -5C, even Jersey saw a maximum of -6C.
Tuesday saw further heavy falls of snow - probably the heaviest of the whole spell - but it was worse in North Kent/South Essex around the Thames Estuary, Leigh-on-Sea reported 44cm (17 in) of level snow. By now the village I lived in was virtually cut-off by deep snow drifts across roads apart to those with 4-wheel drives with a persistent determination to shovel their way through.
Snow ploughs and gritters eventually got round to clearing the roads by the end of that week - so we could all get around a bit more, though schools I think were closed for most of that week. It wasn't really until the beginning of the following week around the 19th that a thaw set in as a milder southwesterly flow developed and Atlantic fronts slowly encroached from the West as the high retreated east, it was a slow thaw that ensued with fog forming as milder air came in contact with the cold surface air over the snow fields.
Taken from Robin Stirling's The Weather of Britain - noon readings at Gatwick from the 7th to the 20th Jan 1987 in degrees C were: 0, -2, 1, -1, -5, -7, -7, -3, -2, -1, -3, -3, -3, -1.
February 1991 - written by 'Keith' (click here to view)
This is the last notably cold and snowy period in London I remember clearly and although there have been more recent cold and snowy periods, this is the most recent one which lasted for a week or more.
The snow began during the afternoon of a working week and it was apparent that the snow was not going to stop anytime soon. As the snow bacame heavier and started to settle, thoughts turned to how we would get home, as the rail network and buses out of London were bound to gring to a halt with the chaos of the newly falling snow. I only lived 5 miles from central london, but it took me over 2 hours to get home that evening and by then, the snow was over a couple of inches deep. It continued to snow heavily throughout that night and by the morning, everywhere was covered up to several inches and the snow although lighter now, was still falling. It was impossible to even attempt to go to work and I decided to spend the day walking through this wonderful calm white world instead. By midday the snow had finally ceased and it was now the turn for the bitter cold to settle in. The large lake I lived near had frozen over and rather stupidly, I managed to walk to the centre where there was an island. I had never known the lake to freeze over to the extent that an adult could walk on it and although I did hear a few creaks, it really was strong enough to hold my weight. Although it didn't snow for the next week, the cold was intense, both day and night and coupled with the strong wind, it was quite painful to walk without a hat covering your ears. The snow lay on the ground for the next week, which is exceptional for London and large piles of snow lay by the side of the roads and roundabouts. Finally a week after the initial snow, milder weather arrived and within a further week, the snow had become nothing more than a memory.
1981 - written by 'Jason Crisp' (click here to view)
The winter of 81 stands out for me as I was only 11 and recall the first snow on Dec 8th, the BBC forcast (old style Beeb) at 6.25pm originally forcast heavy rain with Bill Giles forcasting then by the end of the 9.00pm news (beeb weather followed at 9.23) the forcast for the midlands was heavy snow with 2 snow symbols showing, all this of course was pre-internet & general access to LRF, all you could rely on was ceefax and the papers for your forcast's (an of course Radio 4 after the shipping news) that winter proved to be great, heavt snow followed in Bham on the 13th (school closed) which followed a day of thick freezing then again on the sunday 15th dec the forcast of Blizzards (this is the midlands not alaska) heavy snow fell all day again on the sunday on top of exisitng snow.
More snow followed over the rest of the month, 2 ebfore christmas it snowed and agin on boxing day in Bham more heavy snow - fantastic, the mild into the new year before more very heavy snow early in Jan 82 - what a winter.
Any one else recall the winter of 81, did the forcast change at the last minute for the night of the 7th Dec or was cold always on the cards?