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Paul Sherman

January 1987 - How Was It For You

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On Saturday 10th January 1987 snowflakes began to fall on Essex. As little as 48 hours later the county was at a standstill. No buses,no trains,no milk,no post, no schools open and in many places no telephones. Most major roads were closed and villages isolated or cut off. The people who dared venture out at points were walking on hedges. These were reported to be the worse conditions since the winter of 62/63.

Early in the New Year the signs were ominous that something unusual was about to happen. Massive cold pooling to our North-East on the 5th January 1987 were giving temps of -35c in Finland and further East inSiberia -76f :blink: :blink: These mind numbingly temps were on a collision course with the British Isles. By Sat 10th the wind had swung around to the North East and a huge High Pressure area was established over Scandinavia and so the scene was set.

On Sunday 11th Jan Essex had already recieved 5" ( 12cm ) of level snow and the BBC Forecast for the week ahead was dire (Not if you were a snow lover) Over the next few days the cold intensified. On Monday 12th Southends top temperature was an amazing Minus 10c and the sea froze for 700 yards from Westcliff to Southend. This Monday was the lowest daytime temperature recorded in the 20th Century for Southend and it was unusual for heavy snow to fall in these low temps and was almost unprecedented. Myraids of fine powdery snowflakes whirled in From the North Sea, generated by its reletive warmth. Rising columns of air, cooling and condensing, produced almost non stop heavy snow showers throughout Tuesday 13th Jan and a huge clear up operation was underway. In South East Essex supplies of 60,000 tons of Salt were needed. By Wednesday 14th Southend had accumalated 2 level feet of snow, with 85cm at Thundersley and Leigh On Sea. This was just the start and worse was to follow as the wind strenthened on the Wednesday to create a magical scene as powder snow was whipped up into huge drifts. The savage winds roared over fields whipping the snow into blinding clouds. Mersea. Tiptree, Halstead and Maldon were completely cut off, and all villages between Clacton and Lowestoft were isolated. The next problem was panic buying from the shops that HAD Supplies. 400 Of the 700 Schools closed in the county. There were countless stories of Babies being born in Ambulances stuck in drifts and such. One totally buried car was bulldozed out at Southminster and a Police Patrol on the A12 saw just 1 traveller with no apparant problem, he was ski-ing in the fast lane near Chelmsford.

Then slowly the wind abated and by the Friday 16th January there was a chance to dig away the snow drifts. It was a strange world, Icicles festooned houses and this probably lead to the demise of Gutters, slowly the milkmen and the postmen returned and everything came back to normal and all this within a week.

Would love to know how your area coped with the last notable Siberian Blast.

Paul Sherman

Data Taken from "The Essex Weather Book" by Ian Currie & Mark Davison

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Sounds fabulous Paul and very well remembered,up here it was also cold and snowy but we had nothing like that. 1979 was the best snowstorm I can remember in the North-east.

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Guest charlton-north downs

Hi Paul

Living in Biggin Hill Kent- 650ft on the North Downs it has its own micro-climate and can often have snow when 1 mile down the road rain . We have already had this winter two extra days of snow cover than the surrouding area lower down. Anyway January 1987 for Biggin Hill was an amazing event and at the Airport 600ft high there is a lot of flat open ground which after 4 days of almost continuious snow showers had drifts of 20ft and 24ins of leval snow which actually caused the main road to Westerham to be closed, and it wasn't properly opened until a week later. Driving along the main road even in early February was an amazing sight as you seemed to drive through a tunnel of snow a bit like being in alpine Switzerland. After this event the local council invested in a brand new snow plough because the old one got buried along with a bus and a few cars , they also built new snow fences along the edge of the airport so it would never happen again, little did they know that this snow storm seemed to herald the start of the mildest period of winters in the last 600 years. My brother-in-law was living in Southend at the time and he phoned to say he could not open his front door because snow had driffed to the height of his bedroom window. A once in a life-time event no doubt.

Regards charlton-north downs

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Amazing story Charlton, Biggin Hill must be a few degrees below other lower areas hence the more snowfall, when it is marginal low down The Hill must be at the right temp. You never know something like this may happen again in the next 25 years.

Regards

Paul Sherman

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Jan 1987 was fairly awesome, I lived in Glasgow at the time and remember the snow was the deepest I'd ever seen in Glasgow (and still is). We had about 12 inches but it seemed like 18 inches at the time, I was a kid though, so it must have been about a foot. Off school for a week. My grandparents lived not far from where I live now (20 miles west of Glasgow) and couldn't understand the fuss. They "only" had 6 inches of snow, not bad for 60-70 miles from the east coast!

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I would've been 11 years old, so therefore drunk.

I honestly can't remember 1987's snow event :)

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I remember it well. I was living in a place called Addington then on the Surrey/Kent border, As it was on a hill it was also known as little Siberia as it was frrreeeezing and if there was any snow around we would get it.

The snow was incredibly deep, probably the worst I have ever seen. I was helping look after my sisters horses at the time and I remember it taking me ages to get to them (no cars on the roads as they were thick snow) but had to sort them out.

I remember wearing Moon Boots (anyone rember those? great at keeping your feet warm) and the snow completely covered them up to my knees. There were also drifts to content with. So in essence, approx snow 2ft deep with drifts in places probably up to 6 - 7ft. Well you don't see that any more.

Edit: Charlton, just seen your post there, as Addington is only a couple of miles or so from Biggin Hill I am sure we can vouch for each other on this. It was by far the worst I have ever seen and maybe my estimates are a bit low. What a stonker.

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I remember that one well, told my mum the boilers at school had broken down and went to a mates for the day, little did I know that the school rang up to find out where I was and my mum came looking for me, we decided to go to the local park and hide, it was bloody freezing, but the snow was great fun, I seem to remember it being knee deep in places :) lake was frozen that year too.

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Having a snow event like that was a once in a 100 year experience. Here near to the coast in SE Essex we had 13" of level snow (as I measured the depth on either 13th/14th on a comparatively level area of snowfall), Burnham was completely cut-off for 2 days until a snow plough and blower was brought in to clear the B1010 main road into the town. I rememeber walking down the road after it was cleared (only the width for 1 car) and the snow piled up either side was some 6/7 feet high! On the famous 'Burnham Bends' a 6 axled lorry was blocked in by the drifts so much that on one side of the freight you could walk up a huge drift and clamber on to its top - an incredible sight! Temps on one day, I think the 10th or 11th failed to get above -6C and coupled with a 30mph wind gave a wind chill of something ridiculous, later on after the strong winds had died down some severe frosts the coldest night being -12C - astonishing as we are quite close to the coast. In all the spell lasted nearly a fortnight, and the snow drifts did not fully thaw until early April. This was I'm told the most severe spell of winter weather in the south east of the 20th century. I have some photographs my parents took (I was 18 at the time), I'll try and take some shots of them with my digital camera and if they come out alright I will attach them to this thread later on!

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Timmy, I was 15 at the time and this was a surreal experience, I remember our Family having a Greyhound at the time, we lived near to Romford and our house backed onto a big Park, when the dog ran across the snow it looked as if she was jumping :) then the funny bit she disappeared into a drift which was fully 6 feet up against an east facing fence.

Quick question any of the clever bods able to post up the wetterzentrale archive charts starting 10th Jan 1987 until 15 Jan 1987 so we can see proper cold pooling to our North East??

Paul Sherman

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Guest charlton-north downs

Hi folks

Just to say the area around Biggin Hill/Addington although only about 20 miles from Central London does seem to have its own climate and last Feb/Mar snow lay on the ground in sheltered spots for 10 days, although it can be worse at Westerham Heights a mile or so up the road the highest point in Kent 898ft . The reason the drifts were so high in 1987 is because the airport is on a plateau so the snow was blown off the runway in very strong eastlies and had nowhere to go (Biggin hill is mentioned in quite a few historical Weather Books and in 1927 there was a blizzard that lasted for two days and Biggin Hill which was a village then was cut-off and supplies had to be flown in , so maybe a once in a fifty/sixty year event.

Regards charlton-north downs

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I was only three at the time, but apparently there was very little in Barrow-in-Furness (where I lived at that time) and the records for nearby Lancaster showed that they only had one centimetre of powder snow.

However, apparently the South Shields area was snowed in.

It's impressive that it got as far west as Glasgow- I presume the easterly winds must have funnelled a lot of shower activity through the gap in the mountains between Edinburgh and Glasgow.

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Thanks Mate, Now that is Proper Cold Pooling not the namby pamby stuff we have had in the last 14 years. :):)

Paul Sherman

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I was 6 at the time but I still remember it clearly.

My Dad was deputy head of a prep school between Horsham and Crawley in Sussex and we lived in a house on the school (which used to be a mansion).

It was the Christmas holidays and I remember waking up to nearly constant snow - I don't kow who was more excited - me or my Dad!

I have pictures of around 14 inches of level snow and my family walkung across the frozen 9 acre lake (we judged it was safe as there were fooprints that a whole herd of deer had crossed only an hour or two previously)

The school was snowed in for nearly 10 days and the only way to get supplies was by toboggan - happy days!

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I was only 11 at the time, but I remember going on a day trip to London for some reason from Kent with my father on the day the Easterly began to start, a Sunday I recall, in London that day there were slate grey skies, a biting Easterly wind, flurries of snow. On the way home to Kent on the train the snow began to get heavier and heavier, the fields deeper in snow, when we eventually got to Ashford with the train struggling with snow and ice on the third-electric rail - it was white-out conditions. On the way home in the car from the station we came across a snow drift across an exposed country road, fortunately we had a shovel, so it was out of the car to join another driver to clear the snow to get through, unfortantely I didn't get away without helping and I ended up taking turns to shovel! We were glad to get home to a warm house - and log fire. Next day was Monday, and the snow was even deeper the next morning, and the then familiar routine in the 80s snowy winters of listening to the local radio for school closures revealed that I didn't have to go in for a few days - back then it took alot of snow to shut the schools, unlike the measely inch or less required nowadays in the blame society we live where parent's sue schools because their dear beloved has slipped over and bruised their arm.

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In West Wales there were snow drifts upto hedge tops. Snowed in for 2 or 3 days. Was that 1980 or 81? What happened in 87 in the West :closedeyes: ?

Think that was '81?? Remember it well.Not sure about '87?? I think we got sent home from school that year? Either that year or '86...........

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Early 87 poss end of march we had bad snow in Maidstone we got cut off and i was due to get married in April and i remember thinking that i would freeze in my dress if the weather continued that way. Needless to say the snow was gone about a week and a half before i got married. :closedeyes:

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In West Wales there were snow drifts upto hedge tops. Snowed in for 2 or 3 days. Was that 1980 or 81? What happened in 87 in the West :closedeyes: ?

Certainly snowed impressively in Newport in Jan 87. It was my last winter there before moving to Shrewsbury, this is what I recall:

Just after returning from school after Christmas it became biting cold, and soon we were hearing that some places (presumably the SE) had lots of snow and it was coming our way. One afternoon- it was definitely a weekday as I was sitting in school- it arrived about 2pm and started absolutely throwing it down. It settled instantly, and within half an hour we had stopped what work we were doing and started drawing snow scenes. They began to talk about sending us home early and I think might actually have done so, at least for those whose parents were at home. The snow continued for several hours and next day school was closed, there was about a foot of level snow and icicles as long as a man's arm. Everything was frozen solid- cars couldn't move, gutters were filled with ice and to go out (bear in mind I was only 7) I had to wear hat, balaclava, scarf, gloves, the lot. School was closed for at least 4 or 5 days and the snow and ice remained for over a week. Ahh, what memories :D

As I recall snow also settled in Newport in mid-March that year, not a common occurrence; then we had the most gorgeous April with temps regularly around 20C and sunshine by the bucketload.

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Yes, March 1987 was a snowy month- indeed, taking the country as a whole, there probably hasn't been a snowier March since 1979, though the Marches of 1995 and 2001 were locally snowier.

After a notably warm April, there was then a cold snap with wintry showers at the start of May.

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In Manchester, we had snow flurries on the Sunday from clear skies. I remember a televised football match Luton v Liverpool and they had to use an orange ball as snow fell and the ground became white.

On the Monday, we had further snow showers and it was bitterly cold, that wind was perishing. We had a snow cover on the Tuesday morning but it was cloudy and dry. During the early hours of Wednesday we had snow and there was a covering and it snowed all morning in Manchester.

The snow cover lasted until the weekend.

There was further snowfalls on Wednesday morning of the 4th of March, woke up to a covering. There was further snowfalls on the 7th of March (this was just after the Zeebrugge disaster) and we had another covering. We miss most of the snow showers after mid-month but on the Friday, the wind had more of a westerly component and we got snow showers here in Manchester.

I remember sunny bathing on Good Friday 1987 and a forthnight later it snowed on the Saturday of the May Day Bank Holiday weekend :closedeyes:

Winter 1986-87 (December-February) was a one trick pony really, December and February were fairly uneventful.

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I am from Finland and I do remember it. I was on vacatation on Helsinki and it was just

amazing, when I got out of the train, it was all silent everywhere. A bitter wind was blowing and it was

-34 C. I was freezing, because being from Lapland it's usually a lot colder there but now the cold air had come to

southern and eastern part of the country.

It was 6 days that the temperature was below -30 C on south coast.

It was below -30 C in Helsinki in not too long time ago, in January 2003,

in Jyväskylä it was -40 :closedeyes:

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The 1987 January event was a memorable and wonderful Snow event. I was only 10 at the time but instantly knew that this was a remarkable spell of weather and along with the strong winds that year, was what got me so interested in the weather.

Have some fabulous memories. Especially one when me and Mum were taking some supplies round the my nan. I stumbled by the side of the road which made me fall into a huge drift that had been pilled up on the paths. Mum turned and I had vanished. LOL. Got up and I resembled a walking snow man. Some quality photos of 1987 back in Essex.

Dad at the time was working on the Isle of wight and only had a dusting. When he returned on one weekend he said its was just a complete contrast and the nearer he got to Eseex the deeper and deeper the snow depths were.

Jan 1987= Magical winter wonderland.

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I remember January 1987 if only that I missed out on almost all of it.

I was working on Anglesey(RAF Valley) and whilst cold with frosts almost no snow.

I had to go to London to a meeting and the train had no problems to Crewe, but from then on snow managed to blow into the doors at the end of the compartment, such that in the end the automatic doors would not close. Result was that the carriage became very cold. By the time we reached Euston we had difficulty getting the outside doors to open and staff at the station had to help open a number of carriage doors as they were frozen and blocked by drifted snow.

The other thing I remember was looking out of about the 6th floor overlooking Waterloo, during the meeting, and not seeing a SINGLE train entering or leaving the station throughout the day. I'm sure some did but whenever I looked out there were none-normally it looked like a disturbed ants nest.

When the meeting ended around 3pm, all trains out of Kings Cross and Euston had been cancelled until further notice! Fortunately a colleague put me up for the night just outside Reading. Even getting there, using buses, took almost 4 hours.

Quite a journey but the following day was pretty much without any trouble. It seemed odd arriving back to the green fields of Anglesey after the rest of the country was blanketed in white.

John

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