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My Flabber has been Ghasted

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Memorable Blizzard

One storm I recall was when I was a boy in January circa 1954.

We had been down to visit my grandparents in South Derbyshire and were returning to out home at Holton le Clay, just outside Grimsby, Lincolnshire.

Before we set off, I noted that it was cloudy and the temperature was below freezing.

We set off via Nottingham and then on to Lincoln and up until that point the journey was uneventful, though my step father being very perceptive noted that oncoming lorries had snow on them and remarked that we were heading into snow.

When we got to Lincoln it started to snow big flakes the size of half crowns. As we got to the top of the hill and headed out through the other side, the snow depth increased dramatically. It had obviously been snowing for quite some time and was banked up at the sides of the road in some cases to about 6 feet. The wind was blowing furiously and the drifting snow had the appearance of fog.

My step father decided to take a lower route rather take our usual one over the Wolds, however we eventually came to a crossroads where it was not possible to make any further progress and parked our car, an old 1935 Humber 12, outside an AA box.

On looking round we spied a farm labourer's cottage and sought shelter there. Before we knew where we were about another 10 people had joined us. Since we were short on food, the farm labourer went out to the woods and shot some pigeons. The following morning his wife walked 3 miles to the local shop to try and obtain bread and ended up heart broken to find there wasn't any left.

My mother had a goodly supply of mince pies given to us by my grandmother and she was able to make soda bread for us.

The visits to the toilet were an education. This was a wooden outbuilding built over a hole in the ground with the old plank with a hole in it for sitting. The bottom of the wood had rotted away allowing the snow to swirl in and freeze our nether regions as we were answering nature's call.

I marvelled at the shape and complexity of the snow drifts and loved watching them grow.

In all we were there for 3 days before they could get the roads cleared again. The cylinder block on our old car had frozen so it was kaput. We got a lift back home with a breakdown lorry.

Along the way there were countless telegraph poles broken in half and countless wires down.

In those days they used to have the snow reports on the TV and these were preceded by a photograph and imagine our surprise when we saw that the photograph was our poor old Humber outside the AA box.

The cold weather did not last and after a few days it seemed that we had positively balmy weather with sunshine melting the snow.

Now I would greatly appreciate it if anybody was able to get hold of any synoptic charts and observations so that I could look at it in further detail. As far as I recall, it was the only substantial snowfall that winter and it was in January shortly before I was due to return to school after the Christmas break, hence the mince pies.

mike Meehan

mike Meehan

 

Shooting Star - Or Was It?

Sunday evening I was at St Austell when I saw what appeared to be a shooting star travelling from SE to NW.

It appeared to be at a relatively low level but it is hard to tell. It was visible for some 3 seconds and breaking up with pieces coming of it glowing red. I have never before seen one quite like this.

I initially thought shooting star but was it a piece of space junk breaking up as it re-entered the earth's atmosphere?

mike Meehan

mike Meehan

 

My Flabber has been Ghasted

My flabber has been well and truly ghasted. We currently have temperatures of + 21 C on the eastern seaboard of the US of A. Probably the mildest first week of January that I can recall and that goes back along way. For a significant part of the winter so far the temperature in Moscow has been above freezing. At the same time unseasonably cold in New Zealand +14 C at Christchurch inthe height of their summer! Qui a passé? I suspect that the relatively cold temperatures in New Zealand are most probably caused by increased ice shelving off the Antarctic ice cap into the southern oceans causing cooling will account for that part. It may be the position of the jet streams which account for our weather at the moment but something must have caused this, with higher than average sea temperatures. No doubt the El Nino is in blame for part. It is a far cry from my childhood in the 40’s and 50’s where snow at least for a time was guaranteed each winter with some heavy and cold frosts. Daily maximums as low as -5 C were not that uncommon with the nights dropping to -10 C and below. Mostly winters followed a more or less predictable fashion with mild spells and cold snaps which were sometimes just frosty but probably 3 or more times in the winter we would generally get snow. Some decent falls at times with drifting. On the odd occasion we would get that lovely dry powdery stuff which made it difficult to make snow balls.There appeared to be plenty of opportunity to make slides on frozen ponds. Alas my granchildren have seen seen little of this. Come to think of it my children saw far less than whatever I did. I remember clearly the winter of 1962/63 when I believe I was privileged to be working as a scientific assistant in the Met Office at Heathrow when I was able to gain a grandstand view as it were. During that same winter an observation came in from New Orleans with -5 C and freezing rain and there was plenty of snow in the Atlas Mountains and some on the lower ground in North Africa. I suppose we will all have to order our air conditioning next summer then that will contribute more to global warming – a catch 22. If it is of any comfort,"Old Moores Almanac" predicts a colder than normal December 2007! We will wait and see. I am sure that one winter we will get a nice blocking high to give us a winter similar to'63 since even with global warming nature has a habitof reverting to extremes. I thought it might happen in 2005 but it did not quite work out. Mike Meehan

mike Meehan

mike Meehan

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