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The Great winter of 1739 / 40


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Posted
  • Location: South Derbyshire nr. Burton on Trent, Midlands, UK: alt 262 feet
  • Weather Preferences: Extreme winter cold,heavy bowing snow,freezing fog.Summer 2012
  • Location: South Derbyshire nr. Burton on Trent, Midlands, UK: alt 262 feet

    Hi all,

    Not sure whether 1739-40 winter has been covered here by Mr Data.

    Having read many articles over the years about this, one of the most appallingly cold winters ever in the British Isles, I thought I would include this as I have always found this fascinating.

    The winter of 1739 started early during October when easterly winds set in giving widespread frosts. But the real cold set-in on Christmas Eve with severe frosts persisting day and night with a great freeze lasting until February 17th 1740.

    By far the worst outbreak of incredible bitter cold came at the end of December in London, when temperatures below – 9c / 15f arrived on an easterly gale. :cold: Near by on the Continent in Holland the gale was accompanied by temperatures of –19c / -2f. for hours on end. :o :o

    Just a note on the above, it is very evident what effect our relatively warm North Sea has on protecting us from extreme cold, but one advantage this has is the warming causes great instability often giving rise to lake effect snow.

    A few Links

    Thames was frozen

    By the light of the moon

    tremendous misery

    1739

    Paul

    Edited by Paul Carfoot
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    • 6 months later...
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    Posted
  • Location: Brighouse, West Yorkshire
  • Location: Brighouse, West Yorkshire

    I thought I would resurrect this topic because it's one I find so facinating.

    The yearly CET for 1740 was 6.84C which is the coldest in the entire series.

    What I find even more amazing though is that this exceptionally cold year followed the 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th and 17th warmest 10 year periods recorded. It makes me wonder if we could still see the odd exceptional winter even despite global warming.

    What could produce such a cold year and massive change? I would love to see the synoptic and SST anomaly charts. Such a shame they didn't have satellites back then!

    post-6529-1180468267_thumb.jpg

    Edited by eddie
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    Posted
  • Location: Buckingham
  • Location: Buckingham
    I thought I would resurrect this topic because it's one I find so facinating.

    The yearly CET for 1740 was 6.84C which is the coldest in the entire series.

    What I find even more amazing though is that this exceptionally cold year followed the 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th and 17th warmest 10 year periods recorded. It makes me wonder if we could still see the odd exceptional winter even despite global warming.

    What could produce such a cold year and massive change? I would love to see the synoptic and SST anomaly charts. Such a shame they didn't have satellites back then!

    post-6529-1180468267_thumb.jpg

    Any chance this winter followed a huge volcanic eruption somewhere? It is fascinating whatever the cause.

    Moose

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    Posted
  • Location: Norton, Stockton-on-Tees
  • Weather Preferences: Snow and cold in winter, warm and sunny in summer
  • Location: Norton, Stockton-on-Tees

    The only significant volcanic eruption that I can find for the relevant time is the eruption of Tarumai in Japan which occurred in August 1739 and was a hefty 5 on the VEI scale (about the same as Mount St Helens in 1980). I don't think that would account for the extreme conditions although it may have been a factor. IMO, it was just one of those things that happen once every 300 or so years.

    AM

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    Posted
  • Location: Buckingham
  • Location: Buckingham
    The only significant volcanic eruption that I can find for the relevant time is the eruption of Tarumai in Japan which occurred in August 1739 and was a hefty 5 on the VEI scale (about the same as Mount St Helens in 1980). I don't think that would account for the extreme conditions although it may have been a factor. IMO, it was just one of those things that happen once every 300 or so years.

    AM

    Thanks AM. I looked too but couldn't find anything too significant. It was just a thought. What factors conspire to cause 'just one of those things' though I wonder? In the christmas pudding, similar to 1947 and 1963 I guess.

    Moose

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    Posted
  • Location: Leeds/Bradford border, 185 metres above sea level, around 600 feet
  • Location: Leeds/Bradford border, 185 metres above sea level, around 600 feet

    1963 was on par with this winter, and also 1684, so its actually more like a 1 in 150 year event.

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    Posted
  • Location: Rossland BC Canada
  • Location: Rossland BC Canada

    I have some temperature data for Charleston SC and Philadelphia PA for that period, and the winter of 1739-40 on the east coast of the US was apparently a normal one for that period (and for this period too). So this great winter in western Europe was not apparently part of some hemispheric cooling episode.

    When you say there was a severe cold spell in late December 1739, don't forget that 1740 was before the calendar change in 1752 so the CET values for Jan 1740 were recorded from 21 Dec 1739 to 20 Jan 1740 as the people then living would have experienced the period.

    From my research model results, this winter had three factors that correlate with colder than average winters in general. Mercury was at inferior conjunction in January, the moon was at perigee near northern max, and the lunar declination cycle was in year 13, similar to 1963 by the way, with the results showing that there is a temperature minimum after year 10 for about four years (in the phase where the declination range has bottomed out at 19 degrees and is increasing again).

    Also Jupiter was in opposition around New Years, and Saturn around early February, and some recent research results show temperature minimum values around these times in 13 and 12.4 month cycles.

    So 1739-40 possibly had just enough going on in the set-up that a massive arctic high developed over Scandinavia and stayed in place for about three months by the looks of the data.

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    Posted
  • Location: Brighouse, West Yorkshire
  • Location: Brighouse, West Yorkshire
    I have some temperature data for Charleston SC and Philadelphia PA for that period, and the winter of 1739-40 on the east coast of the US was apparently a normal one for that period (and for this period too). So this great winter in western Europe was not apparently part of some hemispheric cooling episode.

    When you say there was a severe cold spell in late December 1739, don't forget that 1740 was before the calendar change in 1752 so the CET values for Jan 1740 were recorded from 21 Dec 1739 to 20 Jan 1740 as the people then living would have experienced the period.

    From my research model results, this winter had three factors that correlate with colder than average winters in general. Mercury was at inferior conjunction in January, the moon was at perigee near northern max, and the lunar declination cycle was in year 13, similar to 1963 by the way, with the results showing that there is a temperature minimum after year 10 for about four years (in the phase where the declination range has bottomed out at 19 degrees and is increasing again).

    Also Jupiter was in opposition around New Years, and Saturn around early February, and some recent research results show temperature minimum values around these times in 13 and 12.4 month cycles.

    So 1739-40 possibly had just enough going on in the set-up that a massive arctic high developed over Scandinavia and stayed in place for about three months by the looks of the data.

    Thanks for that Roger.

    Based on your research, when would expect the three cycles you mentioned to coincide again?

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    Posted
  • Location: Rossland BC Canada
  • Location: Rossland BC Canada

    There are no precise repeats on various astronomical cycles although I've calculated that 588 years is the closest repeat performance for any given set-up. The problem is that my theory also specifies that the position of the North Magnetic Pole is important to the track of the jet stream, so while set-up parameters can repeat, if the NMP is a long way from where it was 588 years previously, then this set-up will occur a long way away from the UK.

    I have all this material under development now in a computer model which should identify good opportunities for cold winters in the future, but as the whole climate regime seems to have shifted 3-5 degrees north since about 1987 with the rapid displacement of the NMP into the Arctic Ocean from northern Canada, I have to say that I am pessimistic about any further really cold winters for a while yet, and then there's AGW to consider, I am conservative on its contribution but even so, I estimate it to be 30% of the total recent warming, so if it increases to 50% then that could be the nail in the coffin of cold winters for many decades to come.

    Even though I am optimistic about how my research model might develop, I also feel that quasi-random variability can and does occur in which one-time events like an unseasonably early snowfall in a critical location, can have huge feedback effects and screw up any circulation model by placing a source region for much colder air in a new location. It would be interesting to get a hold of any weather journals from Scandinavia in the autumn of 1739 to see exactly how this remarkable winter set up.

    By the way, January 1795 was actually colder than either January 1684, January 1740 or February 1947, so who has any details on what happened in that winter? It didn't last in such severe form through February. The calendar was then on the modern timetable.

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    • 1 year later...
    Posted
  • Location: Irlam
  • Location: Irlam

    A very severe winter with a CET of -0,4, here are some extracts on this winter. Harrod's "Antiquities of Stamford"

    In the hard frost of 1740, at two different days, a sheep and a hog were roasted on the river Welland, where the ford is at the opening in Water Street. The printers also came and got much money by printing person's names who assembled there. The hard frost began Christmas Eve and lasted til Lady Day 1740; the greatest degrees of cold was on January 5th in the morning; it frequently relented in the forenoon but was sure to return at night; however it was not so intense as the frost of 1709, when the Adriatic sea was so frozen that it might be passed on foot, so that the Venetians been at war with the Turks their city might have been taken by a land army..."

    By a Dr Huxham of Plymouth

    December The weather in this month was altogether surprising; in the beginning we had a northeast wind and a severe frost, presently a rainy and turbulent south wind; in a very short time after a southwesterly and a great deal of rain, the barometer nevertheless rising. The 14th and 15th, the wind was northwest; the 16th, northeast and a return of the frost; the 19th and 20th, a violent southeast; on the 21st again, a stormy southwest; from that of an easterly, a cold northeast wind intervening, the 25th and 27th then a most severe storm from the east, with an exceeding severe frost and a constant exceedingly small snow to the very end. In an instant, a most piercing cold froze up everything, both within doors and without, nay, the very strongest kinds of wines were frozen; indeed whatever was exposed to the air instantly turned to ice. . People even shivered by the largest firesides nor could keep themselves warm in their very beds.

    January

    The severity of the cold still continued, such indeed, as was never known in this country. Although the first day of the month, there was a great thaw and a fall of rain, nevertheless the northeasterly wind and a most sharp frost instantly returned which lasted til the very end of the month and although the heat of the sun; all things thawed by day, yet by night were bound by a most rigid frost. The coldest days were the 11th, 15th, 16th, 17th , 18th, 26th, 27th, 28th; nay so severe was the frost which now prevailed that all kinds of wine being exposed out of doors which immediately turned to ice , nay, the very saltwater upon the shores was so, a thing this which very seldom happens in these parts. Innumerable trees and shrubs were cut off by the cold and even the very hardy furzes themselves. A vast number of seabirds flew hither and numbers from foreign countries , which had never been seen here before.

    From George Smith of Richmond (Surrey), a proctor to Queen Anne

    Thames froze over in 4 days, storm of wind 48 hours (30th Dec) Some people walked over the Thames (1st Jan) Frost continued till February 1st, when a thaw began in day, frost returning each night. Ice all gone in Thames upward but not broke about London (Feb 11th) Ice beings to run in Thames (13th Feb) Ice broke in Thames (17th) Ice gone at London (23rd) This was the severest frost I ever known and the most kindly thaw. No rain, roads good, all garden stuff destroyed. Hard frost again in March. A very backward spring, dry and dusty as summer, no considerable rain for 3 months past; the river a slow as ever known. (31st Mar) Very great storm of snow and wind from 10 to 2 (21st Apr) A very cold unkind season (30th Apr) Extraordinarily dry dusty and cold, very unpleasant season (31st May) The coldest weather ever known at Michaelmas, piercing cold (30th Sep) A very unkind year, no good fruit, nor warm weather ; winter severe; storms and frost with great snow."
    Edited by Mr_Data
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    Posted
  • Location: just south of Doncaster, Sth Yorks
  • Location: just south of Doncaster, Sth Yorks

    never mind, sometimes one gets lucky, if its record cold winters one wants!

    I've had 1947 and 1963 and other little efforts since then

    • Like 1
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    Posted
  • Location: frogmore south devon
  • Location: frogmore south devon
    never mind, sometimes one gets lucky, if its record cold winters one wants!

    I've had 1947 and 1963 and other little efforts since then

    I can remember 1963 as if it was yesterday and a few in :( between

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    • 3 years later...
    Posted
  • Location: Weardale 300m asl
  • Weather Preferences: Snow
  • Location: Weardale 300m asl
    never mind, sometimes one gets lucky, if its record cold winters one wants! I've had 1947 and 1963 and other little efforts since then

    That's so jammy. I had '63 aged 12 and it's as fresh in my memory as yesterday. I even remember looking out into the dark on Boxing Day '62 and watching the very first snows beginning to fall and getting really excited :clapping:

    I knew it was the start of something amazing.

    Edited by Iceni
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    Posted
  • Location: Derbyshire Peak District 290 mts. Wind speed 340 mts
  • Weather Preferences: Rain/snow, fog, gales and cold in every season
  • Location: Derbyshire Peak District 290 mts. Wind speed 340 mts

    I remember 1963 very well but unfortunately I wasn't in existence in 1947.

    1979 was a great winter here but by all accounts from older residents it was barely in the top half of the Champions league when compared to 1947's top of the Premier league.

    February 1986 was a great month if only for the fact there were 26 'ice days' and a mean max' of -1.6c.

    What a pity they didn't have today's meteorological equipment in 1684 and 1740.

    Edited by Terminal Moraine
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