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Weather-history

December 1981-January 1982

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December 1981 and January 1982 contained some of the coldest, snowiest and severest winter weather ever recorded in the UK

The coldest December since 1890 and the snowiest since 1878, December 1981 with a CET of 0.3 was one of the severest winter months of the 20th Century and yet it began mild and benign with double figure maxima.

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/archive/ra/19...00119811203.gif

The severe winter spell began on the 8th and lasted to about the 27th for much of the UK.

During this period, there were record breaking frosts and continous snow cover.

On the 6th of December, fronts and lows tracked southeastwards across the UK from Greenland initially bringing rain but as the airmasses became increasingly colder, the rain turned to snow leaving a fairly general snow cover.

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/archive/ra/19...00119811206.gif

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/archive/ra/19...00219811208.gif

On the 11th December, a low tracked close to the English Channel and this brought heavy snowfalls to southern parts.

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/archive/ra/19...00119811211.gif

As the low cleared away, the clear skies, the slack gradients and deep snow cover led to the start of the very severe frosts.

The night of the 12th/13th was exceptionally cold with minima of less than -20C was recorded in a few places with Shawbury recording -25.2C, the lowest minimum recorded during December since 1879. Many other places recorded minima between -10C and -20C. Daytime maxima were often sub-zero during this month

An intense low tracked through the Midlands later on the 13th and this gave blizzards and drifting snow but there was a temporary thaw in the south, however cold air returned on the 14th to these areas.

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/archive/ra/19...00119811214.gif

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/archive/ra/19...00219811214.gif

In the run-up to Christmas, there were further snowfalls and sharp frosts at night especially the nights of the 18th, 19th and 20th. They were no snowfalls on Christmas Day as the UK layed under a ridge of high pressure. It was not a white Christmas under betting conditions even though there was a good covering of snow in many places.

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/archive/ra/19...00119811225.gif

The severe cold spell finally broke on the 26th as fronts moved into the west bringing first snow then rain as milder air displaced the colder airmass.

The run-up to the New Year was considerably milder than it had been for the previous two weeks.

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/archive/ra/19...00119811230.gif

January 1982 had a CET of 2.6 but it will be remembered for the snowstorm and record low temperatures.

The month began mild with SWly winds, a continuation of the thaw that had begun at the end of December 1981.

Maxima were in double figures and there was heavy rain which caused flooding.

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/archive/ra/19...00119820101.gif

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/archive/ra/19...00219820103.gif

On the 4th, high pressure was intensifying over Greenland and Scandinavia and this gradually began to push southwards so by the 6th, the UK was under a ridge of very cold air from Greenland.

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/archive/ra/19...00119820106.gif

A small polar low moved across the far north of Scotland bringing these areas, heavy snow showers.

The maximum temperature at Tummel Bridge was -13C and Braemar recorded a minimum of -23C. On the 8th, the minimum was -26.8C at Grantown-on-Spey.

The pressure gradient was increasing in the south as a front moved up from the south to displace the cold air sitting over the UK.

The winds strengthened and snow began to fall which drifted in the wind. The next 36-48 hours brought chaos to the south with continous snowfall and strong easterly winds bringing drifting and disrupting transport. A small low in the SW provided extra moisture for the system. In the east, level snow depths reached about 15cm but further west, snow depths were greater.

The Cotswolds, south Wales and Herefordshire recorded level snow depths of 30-40cm, Newport in Gwent:- 60cm, Carmarthen:- 60cm and Swansea:- 40cm. Drifts were well in excess of 7m in places.

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/archive/ra/19...00119820109.gif

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/archive/ra/19...00219820109.gif

By the 10th, the high over Greenland moved across the UK. The subsequent clear skies and deep snow cover allowed intense cooling producing record low minima and very low daytime maxima. Newport in Shropshire recorded a minima of -26.1C on the 10th, the lowest ever minimum in England, a maxima of -10C was recorded at Benson, Oxon and -9C at Shawbury on the 13th. In Scotland, it was equally as cold with Braemar equalling the lowest ever recorded minima for the UK with -27.2C on the 10th.

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/archive/ra/19...00119820110.gif

By the 14th, the high had slipped into Europe allowing mild air to come up from the Mediterrenean. Initially, this slid over the very cold air creating an inversion but by the 15th, the milder air had reached sea level and there was a thaw. The thaw was gentle and there was no serious flooding.

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/archive/ra/19...00119820114.gif

The rest of the month was generally mild but there was brief northerly plunge around the 26th and 27th.

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/archive/ra/19...00119820127.gif

December 1981: 0.3

January 1982: 2.6

Coldest spells of December/January

8th-14th Dec 1981: -3.5

16th-20th Dec 1981: -2.6

22nd-26th Dec 1981: -1.3

6th-15th Jan 1982: -4.0

The first half of December: 0.9

The second half of December: -0.2

The first half of January: -0.4

The second half of January: 5.5

The period 16th December-15th January: -0.3

December CET mean max. 3.3

December CET mean min. -2.7

DECEMBER

Coldest CET daily maximum: -3.8 12th December

Mildest CET daily maximum: 10.4 3rd December

Coldest CET daily minimum: -15.9 13th December

JANUARY

Coldest CET daily maximum: -2.8 13th January

Mildest CET daily maximum: 11.8 2nd January

Coldest CET daily minimum: -12.9 14th January

Record December daily minimum set in 1981

11th. -15.0

12th. -22.6

13th. -25.2

17th. -18.0

18th. -18.6

19th. -18.8

26th. -17.7

Record January daily minimum set in 1982

7th. -22.6

8th. -26.8

9th. -25.9

10th. -27.2

11th. -26.6

12th. -21.8

DECEMBER 1981

Heathrow

Mean Max: 4.0 Mean Min: -0.9 Air frosts: 16 Falling sleet/snow: 10 Lowest Min: -11.8

Plymouth

Mean Max: 7.8 Mean Min: 2.8 Air frosts: 6 Falling sleet/snow: 3 Lowest Min: -5.6

Elmdon

Mean Max: 2.3 Mean Min: -3.2 Air frosts: 21 Falling sleet/snow: 15 Lowest Min: -18.5

Manchester

Mean Max: 2.8 Mean Min: -1.5 Air frosts: 18 Falling sleet/snow: 15 Lowest Min: -13.5

Glasgow

Mean Max: 1.3 Mean Min: -4.7 Air frosts: 20 Falling sleet/snow: 12 Lowest Min: -16.9

Belfast

Mean Max: 4.0 Mean Min: 0.2 Air frosts: 13 Falling sleet/snow: 10 Lowest Min: -11.0

JANUARY 1982

Heathrow

Mean Max: 6.8 Mean Min: 1.3 Air frosts: 12 Falling sleet/snow: 2 Lowest Min: -10.1

Plymouth

Mean Max: 8.0 Mean Min: 4.5 Air frosts: 6 Falling sleet/snow: 5 Lowest Min: -2.5

Elmdon

Mean Max: 4.8 Mean Min: -0.8 Air frosts: 15 Falling sleet/snow: 6 Lowest Min: -20.8

Manchester

Mean Max: 5.8 Mean Min: 1.1 Air frosts: 13 Falling sleet/snow: 3 Lowest Min: -11.5

Glasgow

Mean Max: 4.8 Mean Min: -0.2 Air frosts: 12 Falling sleet/snow: 5 Lowest Min: -17.3

Belfast

Mean Max: 6.1 Mean Min: 1.9 Air frosts: 11 Falling sleet/snow: 5 Lowest Min: -10.4

Photos

http://www.btinternet.com/~alan.c.edwards/cmsnow10.jpg

http://www.btinternet.com/~alan.c.edwards/cmsnow11.jpg

http://www.page-net.com/swansea.localhisto...seinonjan82.jpg

http://www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/media/im...0JCB%20copy.jpg

http://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/history/sites/w...es/snow_200.jpg

http://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/mid/sites/remem...edyn_street.jpg

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Fantastic memories! I grew up in Swansea and remember this period of snow very well. The icey conditions were a wonder to behold and even the main roads were car free for a long time. I was working in a local hospital at the time and had to rely on the army to get me to work.

I seem to remember a low night time temp of -11c being recorded at one stage.

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December 1981 and January 1982 contained some of the coldest, snowiest and severest winter weather ever recorded in the UK

The coldest December since 1890 and the snowiest since 1878, December 1981 with a CET of 0.3 was one of the severest winter months of the 20th Century and yet it began mild and benign with double figure maxima.

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/archive/ra/19...00119811203.gif

The severe winter spell began on the 8th and lasted to about the 27th for much of the UK.

During this period, there were record breaking frosts and continous snow cover.

On the 6th of December, fronts and lows tracked southeastwards across the UK from Greenland initially bringing rain but as the airmasses became increasingly colder, the rain turned to snow leaving a fairly general snow cover.

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/archive/ra/19...00119811206.gif

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/archive/ra/19...00219811208.gif

On the 11th December, a low tracked close to the English Channel and this brought heavy snowfalls to southern parts.

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/archive/ra/19...00119811211.gif

As the low cleared away, the clear skies, the slack gradients and deep snow cover led to the start of the very severe frosts.

The night of the 12th/13th was exceptionally cold with minima of less than -20C was recorded in a few places with Shawbury recording -25.2C, the lowest minimum recorded during December since 1879. Many other places recorded minima between -10C and -20C. Daytime maxima were often sub-zero during this month

An intense low tracked through the Midlands later on the 13th and this gave blizzards and drifting snow but there was a temporary thaw in the south, however cold air returned on the 14th to these areas.

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/archive/ra/19...00119811214.gif

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/archive/ra/19...00219811214.gif

In the run-up to Christmas, there were further snowfalls and sharp frosts at night especially the nights of the 18th, 19th and 20th. They were no snowfalls on Christmas Day as the UK layed under a ridge of high pressure. It was not a white Christmas under betting conditions even though there was a good covering of snow in many places.

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/archive/ra/19...00119811225.gif

The severe cold spell finally broke on the 26th as fronts moved into the west bringing first snow then rain as milder air displaced the colder airmass.

The run-up to the New Year was considerably milder than it had been for the previous two weeks.

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/archive/ra/19...00119811230.gif

January 1982 had a CET of 2.6 but it will be remembered for the snowstorm and record low temperatures.

The month began mild with SWly winds, a continuation of the thaw that had begun at the end of December 1981.

Maxima were in double figures and there was heavy rain which caused flooding.

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/archive/ra/19...00119820101.gif

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/archive/ra/19...00219820103.gif

On the 4th, high pressure was intensifying over Greenland and Scandinavia and this gradually began to push southwards so by the 6th, the UK was under a ridge of very cold air from Greenland.

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/archive/ra/19...00119820106.gif

A small polar low moved across the far north of Scotland bringing these areas, heavy snow showers.

The maximum temperature at Tummel Bridge was -13C and Braemar recorded a minimum of -23C. On the 8th, the minimum was -26.8C at Grantown-on-Spey.

The pressure gradient was increasing in the south as a front moved up from the south to displace the cold air sitting over the UK.

The winds strengthened and snow began to fall which drifted in the wind. The next 36-48 hours brought chaos to the south with continous snowfall and strong easterly winds bringing drifting and disrupting transport. A small low in the SW provided extra moisture for the system. In the east, level snow depths reached about 15cm but further west, snow depths were greater.

The Cotswolds, south Wales and Herefordshire recorded level snow depths of 30-40cm, Newport in Gwent:- 60cm, Carmarthen:- 60cm and Swansea:- 40cm. Drifts were well in excess of 7m in places.

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/archive/ra/19...00119820109.gif

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/archive/ra/19...00219820109.gif

By the 10th, the high over Greenland moved across the UK. The subsequent clear skies and deep snow cover allowed intense cooling producing record low minima and very low daytime maxima. Newport in Shropshire recorded a minima of -26.1C on the 10th, the lowest ever minimum in England, a maxima of -10C was recorded at Benson, Oxon and -9C at Shawbury on the 13th. In Scotland, it was equally as cold with Braemar equalling the lowest ever recorded minima for the UK with -27.2C on the 10th.

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/archive/ra/19...00119820110.gif

By the 14th, the high had slipped into Europe allowing mild air to come up from the Mediterrenean. Initially, this slid over the very cold air creating an inversion but by the 15th, the milder air had reached sea level and there was a thaw. The thaw was gentle and there was no serious flooding.

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/archive/ra/19...00119820114.gif

The rest of the month was generally mild but there was brief northerly plunge around the 26th and 27th.

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/archive/ra/19...00119820127.gif

December 1981: 0.3

January 1982: 2.6

Coldest spells of December/January

8th-14th Dec 1981: -3.5

16th-20th Dec 1981: -2.6

22nd-26th Dec 1981: -1.3

6th-15th Jan 1982: -4.0

The first half of December: 0.9

The second half of December: -0.2

The first half of January: -0.4

The second half of January: 5.5

The period 16th December-15th January: -0.3

December CET mean max. 3.3

December CET mean min. -2.7

DECEMBER

Coldest CET daily maximum: -3.8 12th December

Mildest CET daily maximum: 10.4 3rd December

Coldest CET daily minimum: -15.9 13th December

JANUARY

Coldest CET daily maximum: -2.8 13th January

Mildest CET daily maximum: 11.8 2nd January

Coldest CET daily minimum: -12.9 14th January

Record December daily minimum set in 1981

11th. -15.0

12th. -22.6

13th. -25.2

17th. -18.0

18th. -18.6

19th. -18.8

26th. -17.7

Record January daily minimum set in 1982

7th. -22.6

8th. -26.8

9th. -25.9

10th. -27.2

11th. -26.6

12th. -21.8

DECEMBER 1981

Heathrow

Mean Max: 4.0 Mean Min: -0.9 Air frosts: 16 Falling sleet/snow: 10 Lowest Min: -11.8

Plymouth

Mean Max: 7.8 Mean Min: 2.8 Air frosts: 6 Falling sleet/snow: 3 Lowest Min: -5.6

Elmdon

Mean Max: 2.3 Mean Min: -3.2 Air frosts: 21 Falling sleet/snow: 15 Lowest Min: -18.5

Manchester

Mean Max: 2.8 Mean Min: -1.5 Air frosts: 18 Falling sleet/snow: 15 Lowest Min: -13.5

Glasgow

Mean Max: 1.3 Mean Min: -4.7 Air frosts: 20 Falling sleet/snow: 12 Lowest Min: -16.9

Belfast

Mean Max: 4.0 Mean Min: 0.2 Air frosts: 13 Falling sleet/snow: 10 Lowest Min: -11.0

JANUARY 1982

Heathrow

Mean Max: 6.8 Mean Min: 1.3 Air frosts: 12 Falling sleet/snow: 2 Lowest Min: -10.1

Plymouth

Mean Max: 8.0 Mean Min: 4.5 Air frosts: 6 Falling sleet/snow: 5 Lowest Min: -2.5

Elmdon

Mean Max: 4.8 Mean Min: -0.8 Air frosts: 15 Falling sleet/snow: 6 Lowest Min: -20.8

Manchester

Mean Max: 5.8 Mean Min: 1.1 Air frosts: 13 Falling sleet/snow: 3 Lowest Min: -11.5

Glasgow

Mean Max: 4.8 Mean Min: -0.2 Air frosts: 12 Falling sleet/snow: 5 Lowest Min: -17.3

Belfast

Mean Max: 6.1 Mean Min: 1.9 Air frosts: 11 Falling sleet/snow: 5 Lowest Min: -10.4

Photos

http://www.btinternet.com/~alan.c.edwards/cmsnow10.jpg

http://www.btinternet.com/~alan.c.edwards/cmsnow11.jpg

http://www.page-net.com/swansea.localhisto...seinonjan82.jpg

http://www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/media/im...0JCB%20copy.jpg

http://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/history/sites/w...es/snow_200.jpg

http://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/mid/sites/remem...edyn_street.jpg

It was an amazing week for me, great time spent in Buxton with the school on an outdoor activity week, being only 14 i was quite excited by the time Wednesday came with heavy snow showers giving a thick covering. On Friday 11th we got the skis out which was my first time ever, on a golf course in Buxton i think, but that was only for the morning because we at to leave in the afternoon to go back home.

We got back to Boston about 9pm leaving Buxton to a snowy scene while Boston had nowt, that all changed by Sunday the 13th when we had a great snowstorm as Mr D said the snow lay on the ground until after Boxing day. Even though officially it was not a white christmas in my eyes it was, great time and only seems like yesterday.

Thanks Mr D.

Les

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Thank you for another great summary Kevin. I always reading enjoy your historical explanations.

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thanks again Mr D. yet another of my forecast experiences at Manchester Airport this time. We had a pretty busy time, not just for MAP but the other 14 airports we had the forecast responsibility for from Birmingham up to Carlisle. Never a dull moment, but still time to take my daughter sledging most days, and me skiing in Lyme Park.

It was an amazing week for me, great time spent in Buxton with the school on an outdoor activity week, being only 14 i was quite excited by the time Wednesday came with heavy snow showers giving a thick covering. On Friday 11th we got the skis out which was my first time ever, on a golf course in Buxton i think, but that was only for the morning because we at to leave in the afternoon to go back home.

We got back to Boston about 9pm leaving Buxton to a snowy scene while Boston had nowt, that all changed by Sunday the 13th when we had a great snowstorm as Mr D said the snow lay on the ground until after Boxing day. Even though officially it was not a white christmas in my eyes it was, great time and only seems like yesterday.

Thanks Mr D.

Les

come on Les why repeat the whole of the original post?

Edited by johnholmes

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thanks again Mr D. yet another of my forecast experiences at Manchester Airport this time. We had a pretty busy time, not just for MAP but the other 14 airports we had the forecast responsibility for from Birmingham up to Carlisle. Never a dull moment, but still time to take my daughter sledging most days, and me skiing in Lyme Park.

come on Les why repeat the whole of the original post?

Quite right John didnt need to repeat original post, but it was nice reading from Mr Data.

Les

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sure was, he seems to have got into a 'do you remember this' mode. Quite how long it takes to collect all the data I have no idea. A long time I imagine. Its certainly a popular read on here for each year.

Edited by johnholmes
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Remember this spell of weather although was just 5 years old! I haven't seen so much snow since. Wish I could have been a little older to have some clearer memories of it.

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Thanks Kevin fascinating as always.

The incidental pleasures of nostalgia/observing a sometimes foreign past are here too: 'Southern Region' trains in what looked as if it was a blue/grey livery, Pan Am...noting the precise point in the 'Telegraph's' long, slow and grudging acceptence of metric units of measurement: quite gone is the use of inches for barometric measurement but fahrenheit alone is still proudly used for the BI forecast map [in another decade or so 'First Stage of the Great Transition' brought in both fahrenheit and celsius (often called 'centrigrade' as if that made it less threateningly strange and foreign) but with the former given due precedence; in the last few years (the 'Second Stage') the order of precedence was reversed...].

regards

ACB

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I remember that winter. I had my first "boyfriend" (we held hands) and I couldn't get his xmas present to him until well after xmas as he lived in a village out of town.

When my mum finally braved the roads we saw some amazing sights, the roads had been cleared so that the snow was at least 3-4 foot above the top of the car :) It made for a very scary journey in the Allegro.

I think that was also the year I made a snowman on the main road into town when we were cut off :)

Oh, and it was before we had central heating installed :wallbash: (it was probably the reason we did)

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Now here's an interesting article from the Times warning about a possible icy 1980s

It seems ironic now that in the 80s there were mentions of a new ice age and many more cold winters to come. Its just shows how unpredictable it all is, no one could have known back then that we would become so mild and get such rubbish winters nearly every year.

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thanks again Kevin

yes old Hubert was a firm believer in the prospect of an 'Ice Age' being just round the corner.

It would have been interesting, if he was still alive, to hear one of his wonderful lectures, and just what he would have made of all this GW?

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Another big snowfall and further chaos. Here's the 12th of December 1981 edition of the Times. Disaster struck when 4 people were killed in a train crash caused by the weather.

dec1981i.jpg

dec1981j.jpg

dec1981m.jpg

dec1981l.jpg

dec1981n.jpg

dec1981k.jpg

dec1981o.jpg

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wow lots of great stuff there Mr D. nostalgic times for snow lovers (including me) some great memories there. thank you very much.

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yes more memories of trying to forecast this lot at Manchester Airport through that month.

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When the first snows arrived on the 9th I was stranded at Clapham Junction for about three hours trying to get to work. It really caught the weather forecasters out because it rained heavily first thing in the morning which readily turned to snow(if it had all been snow the snow-depth would have doubled :o ) . Central London pavements became like skating rinks, because after the snow stopped the temperature dropped to below -2c at around mid-day. It is the first time I can remember having regular snow storms for nearly four weeks. :)

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I was eight years old at the time but I don't think I remember this.

Did Liverpool not get particularly affected?

(Or are my lack of snow memories due to the fact my parents were running (and living in) a pub at the time and I never got to play out?)

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I was eight years old at the time but I don't think I remember this.

Did Liverpool not get particularly affected?

(Or are my lack of snow memories due to the fact my parents were running (and living in) a pub at the time and I never got to play out?)

Hello Lady P

According to Robert Stirling, Liverpool had 23 days of lying snow that December.

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Goodness me, that's a lot for Liverpool!

Thanks Mr D.

I knew I hated living in that pub!

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This is still my favourite winter of recall.. I was living in Moreton in Marsh at the time and remember my mother asking me to check the temperature and it was -25C and my mother going "oh i thought it was a bit nippy" (she comes from Finland) and we had an incredible amount of snow (knee height).

Wasn't this period also when London recorded it's coldest ever temperature of -16.C ? I remember seeing a newscast on TV of the hazards of icicles falling on to pedestrians in the city...

Oh for that to happen again.. The weather not the icicles falling on pedestrians..

Edited by Drew

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Do you know I really feel sorry for people under 25 years old!! They simply have never seen snow like we used to see!! I was about 9 years old and remember this spell, our local paper had a picture of a road in our area closed due to a 10 foot long icicle hanging from a railway bridge above "Waterloo Road" in Romford, this was an absolute death trap, we had drifts of snow in the park of 10 feet, but we went to school almost every day!

Paul S

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