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The PIT

The disappearing Winters

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As another disappointing Winter draws to a close is it really worth calling December Jan and Feb winter months anymore???

Looking at the average temperatures for Sheffield http://www.sheffieldweather.co.uk/MONTHLYAIRAVERAGE.htm Jan Feb and Dec are now looking like temps you'd get in late Autumn or early Spring. Frost and Snow events are very similar to what us oldies would associate with late Autumn or early Spring. Last Winter I went through without scraping my car once.

You could effectively extend Summer and push Autumn back and Spring forward and remove or and then shorten offical Winter. What do you think??

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Yep, south of the border - it has seemed very much a three-season year for most of the years since 1997 IMO, with a few exceptions such as 2000/01 and 2005/06 which managed to resemble some wintry months with below average temps.

A fair few on here, when N-W first started, have banged on about this is what to expect across UK and western Europe in the winter months - and certainly this concern is certainly becoming reality. Jan and Feb in particular in recent years have come in as well above average months repeatedly temperature wise - making spring seemingly early, Dec though staying closer to the average though. There will be in the coming 5-10 years, I'm sure, a winter that will be worthy of the name weatherwise, but long cold wintry spells longer than 2-3 days are seemingly coming a rare visitor to our shores.

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Well, I think this could be one of those Winter's where I don't see one flake of snow :yahoo: The last time this happened was back in Winter 2001/02.

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As another disappointing Winter draws to a close is it really worth calling December Jan and Feb winter months anymore???

Looking at the average temperatures for Sheffield http://www.sheffieldweather.co.uk/MONTHLYAIRAVERAGE.htm Jan Feb and Dec are now looking like temps you'd get in late Autumn or early Spring. Frost and Snow events are very similar to what us oldies would associate with late Autumn or early Spring. Last Winter I went through without scraping my car once.

You could effectively extend Summer and push Autumn back and Spring forward and remove or and then shorten offical Winter. What do you think??

I'm sure there are many times throughout history where man has asked himself if winters are disappearing, I certainly don't think it's a case of reaching an end point, and that's it, no more winters. I think we may be stuck with it for a while, maybe a number of years of this cycle yet and then it will go the other way again. After all we are around for such a short period of time, it's hard to evaluate.

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I remember back in the 80's a builder in the Devon area took up the challenge to wear shorts to work every day during the Winter for charity. He got a huge amount of publicity and hopefully his chosen charity benefited, but he was basically called crazy for wanting to do so - even for a good cause.

Across the last 3 or 4 Winters wearing shorts to work around here in Winter, though far from the norm, is by no means extrordinary - in fact I saw 3 people on site yesterday.

In essence, at least in these parts, Winter is no longer taken seriously. There were far more people on the beach a week ago last Sunday than I've seen on many a Summers day. Obviously not so many in the water, but plenty of paddling and sand castle making was enjoyed - in late January for goodness sake!!!

For me we now have 3 MAIN seasons. Spring, Summer and Autumn, with the lowest temp of the year just as likely to occur in Nov or March as it is in Jan (in fact probably more so).

Spring for me is Jan-April, Summer May-Sept and Autumn Oct-Dec.

It might seem a bit crazy to suggest February is a Spring month, but one look out into my back garden tells a different story. All the trees are in bub, the daffodils are dying having blossomed pre Xmas, there's frog spawn in the pond, birds are mating, the tortoise is mooching around in the 9" of lush grass and it's 12.1c.

So yes, Winters are disappearing, at least here they are.

Edit-: Talking of the tortoise he's probably a very good indicator of how things have changed around here climatically. Tommy has been free range in the garden for 25 years. Back in 80's he'd normally hibernate from about late Oct til early March, during the 90's that became mid Nov to late Feb and since the turn of the century about early Dec to Mid Feb. Last year he reappeared on the 12th Feb, this year it was yesterday afternoon, having gone down in early December (no wonder he's looking knackered... :yahoo: )

I guess a case could be made for him becoming increasingly hardy with each passing Winter, but I rather think much of this is down to the fact it's just doesn't get cold enough these days to keep him inactive - hopefully his overall well being will not suffer as a result.

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Wasn't there a run of mild winters in the 1920s + 30s ? And if so were they comparable to the run we are currently experiencing ? My point being that yes, the last ten winters have been generally mild, but the crucial question that I'm not sure has yet been answered definitively is whether this is a new warmer 'standard' for UK winters going forward, or just the repeat of a pattern which has occurred in the past and therefore we will again emerge from into a period of colder winters ?

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Over the last 10 years the mean temperature in January and February here has been about the same as the 1941-70 average in Nottingham or Manchester, with an accompanying reduction in snowfall; it's as if we've lost 300m of altitude.

The last significant ( more than 10cm ) snowfall in January was 13 years ago which, as far as I can tell, is unprecedented in these parts as even the winters of the 1920s and 30s saw the occasional cold month and certainly more frequent snowfall than in recent years.

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Wasn't there a run of mild winters in the 1920s + 30s ? And if so were they comparable to the run we are currently experiencing ? My point being that yes, the last ten winters have been generally mild, but the crucial question that I'm not sure has yet been answered definitively is whether this is a new warmer 'standard' for UK winters going forward, or just the repeat of a pattern which has occurred in the past and therefore we will again emerge from into a period of colder winters ?

The 1910s, 1920s and 1930s generally brought relatively mild winters (1916-17 and 1928-29 apart), with most winters above the 1961-90 average and the majority above the 1971-00 average, however overall they were less mild than the winters overall since 1988. Then in 1940, it all changed as if a switch was pulled, and then winters were generally cold through the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s with few winters milder than average, with some as cold as the most severe winters of the Little Ice Age (1940, 1947, 1962-63), and with many other cold winters that were not too severe overall but did have notable cold spells (1941, 1942, 1945, 1950-51, 1955, 1956, 1968-69, 1969-70), then in 1970 it all came to an end and there was a run of mild winters from 1971-76. After this as if a switch was pulled again the cold and snows returned with the last really severe winter in 1978-79 and there were also a number of other cold winters in the 1977-87 era that had notable cold spells (1981-82, 1985, 1986, 1987). Then after this it all came to an end with two exceptionally mild winters in 1988-89 and 89-90, and what just does distress me is that most winters in the last 20 years in the UK have been milder than the long term average (although there was a blip in 1991 and 1995-96 when cold conditions developed again). It certainly still remains that no winter in the last 12 years (since 1995-96) could be described as a cold one.

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I really do think they can change back to cold just as quick as they changed to mild.

The ever optimistic NW member :yahoo:

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This winter has really hit home and I find myself loathing winters as I did in the early seventies when there was no appreciable snow from 1971-1978 in Sidcup Kent. Then it all changed and winters again felt like winters with Snow Frost and Ice on a regular basis but not every winter.

Spring was something you looked forward to as real winters or UK winters make you appreciate the seasons . Alas now I cant wait for spring for a different

reason as this winter has been as dire as any in the last 20 years. Snow did not occur every winter in the sixties and seventies but frost did and you usually got one snow event even if it was heavy wet snow. The frustrating thing is I moved to Biggin Hill after getting married in 1987 and a part of me did so because locals talked about how snowy winters can be up on the North Downs at a height of 200 meters and how lovely the countryside is so near to London. Since 1987 there has only been one major snow event Feb 1991 when we had over a foot of snow and drifts of 3ft. :yahoo:

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Hi Folks

Well I can safely say that apart from the short cold spell in December I have not had to scrape my windscreen (then it was only twice) at all this winter whilst in the UK, however in SW France where I spend the weekends, I am on my 4th can of de-icer this winter, the clear nights being cold but the days warming up really nicely and it looks like this weekend coming is a good case in point, so I will be scraping the ice off the windscreen to go and buy my croissants and then sitting in the garden at lunchtime to eat them...

no snow this year though....

Cheers

FC

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Telling comments above from TM and N-EB. If I am honest I think that desperately searching for equivalent mild winter periods in the past is really just me trying to convince myself that there is clear evidence this is just a 'phase' which we will emerge from (and hopefully sooner rather than later). However, the real fear is that this isn't a phase at all, or that if it is, it is a major change which could last hundreds or thousands of years, (which also of course suggests that we are in fact right at the beginning, so it's going to get a lot worse before it gets better !), which effectively means that none of us may experience a 'real winter' ever again !!!

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Manchester Winter Indices, the higher the value, the severer the winter.

1973-74: 30

1974-75: 26

1975-76: 41

1976-77: 141

1977-78: 90

1978-79: 262

1979-80: 66

1980-81: 90

1981-82: 149

1982-83: 85

1983-84: 82

1984-85: 140

1985-86: 159

1986-87: 100

1987-88: 37

1988-89: 20

1989-90: 26

1990-91: 126

1991-92: 40

1992-93: 43

1993-94: 78

1994-95: 45

1995-96: 135

1996-97: 72

1997-98: 25

1998-99: 47

1999-00: 42

2000-01: 77

2001-02: 50

2002-03: 44

2003-04: 50

2004-05: 47

2005-06: 59

2006-07: 21

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Wasn't there a run of mild winters in the 1920s + 30s ? And if so were they comparable to the run we are currently experiencing ? My point being that yes, the last ten winters have been generally mild, but the crucial question that I'm not sure has yet been answered definitively is whether this is a new warmer 'standard' for UK winters going forward, or just the repeat of a pattern which has occurred in the past and therefore we will again emerge from into a period of colder winters ?

It's worth noting that although the winters were generally mild in the 1930s, apart from the odd cold month such as 1.6C CET in Dec 1933 (no month has been that cold since Feb 1991), the overall CETs for those years of the 30s all came below 10C apart from 1938:

http://www.personal.dundee.ac.uk/~taharley...av_temperat.htm

Since 1997, apart from 2001, all yearly CETs have been above 10C which shows that overall the last 10 years have been warmer than the 10 year period of the 30s, despite both periods having mild winters.

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It's certainly a concern. As a snow lover myself I'd really like at least a week or two of pretty consistent cold weather. The way the media react to even a very short term cold event such as last last Friday is very telling. I'm sure years ago even allowing for the dramatically increased size of the media it wouldn't have registered beyond the weather report.

The question is are we just seeing a localised pattern or is this part of a much longer term pattern caused by global warming? Will genuinely cold winters become an extremely rare event?

Having said all that I can't complain about bright, sunny, spring like days. It is very pleasant. It's the dull repetitive, mild with drizzle days which now seems to form the bulk of winter.

Manchester Winter Indices, the higher the value, the severer the winter.

1973-74: 30

1974-75: 26

1975-76: 41

1976-77: 141

1977-78: 90

1978-79: 262

1979-80: 66

1980-81: 90

1981-82: 149

1982-83: 85

1983-84: 82

1984-85: 140

1985-86: 159

1986-87: 100

1987-88: 37

1988-89: 20

1989-90: 26

1990-91: 126

1991-92: 40

1992-93: 43

1993-94: 78

1994-95: 45

1995-96: 135

1996-97: 72

1997-98: 25

1998-99: 47

1999-00: 42

2000-01: 77

2001-02: 50

2002-03: 44

2003-04: 50

2004-05: 47

2005-06: 59

2006-07: 21

I live nearby in Altrincham and that really is very telling and depressing!

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We all know that global cooling is plausible as a result of global warming, so I think it's quite foolish to banish the term 'winter'. Being a northerner and living in Inverness, I'm still very much seeing winter and expect that we will get some more below average winters in the future. Global warming has not warmed our climate enough to scrape out natural variation, so I expect one year we will get another very large snow event.

Edit:

P.S, if you all think that something serious is happening, you should all get out there and try to do something about it. The average day person will just say "Oh it NEVER snows here, are winter's are rubbish and so are our summers", because they just genuinely like to complain (don't we all? lol). :)

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It's worth noting that although the winters were generally mild in the 1930s, apart from the odd cold month such as 1.6C CET in Dec 1933 (no month has been that cold since Feb 1991), the overall CETs for those years of the 30s all came below 10C apart from 1938:

http://www.personal.dundee.ac.uk/~taharley...av_temperat.htm

Since 1997, apart from 2001, all yearly CETs have been above 10C which shows that overall the last 10 years have been warmer than the 10 year period of the 30s, despite both periods having mild winters.

The winters down south have always been the same,yes we had more frosts simply we had more dry spells not since 1991 have we had a severe cold spell.So lets hope as normal heavy squally showers we get in march will give us the snow!

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Very interesting this topic and I'm surprised it hasn't been broached before on here with the latest of a set of disappointments for many people.

I used to think BNW (Before NetWeather) that it was my rose tinted view of seasons 'when I were a lad'. Then discussing it with non weather fanatics I came to the conclusion that the differentiation between most seasons has disappeared and the grey, overcast damp is only saved on odd occasions by a bit of sunshine or a bit of frost or a bit of wind.

Statistically Mr Data is your man to prove if it is just a memory thing (is there such a word as severer Mr D? :) ) but I do believe that we have 'flatlined' and whilst the occasional bit of wild or sunny weather comes along, it doesn't stay with us for long like the long hot summers of my teenage years or the 1 or 2 week spells of lying snow when I was first going to school.

I won't be around long enough to prove if this is a blip or something more permanent, but I like many others, just add the boring weather to a list of disappointments in my middle years that include, higher mortgages, longer working hours and more taxation! :)

Perhaps thats it, I'm just having a mid life crisis!!!! :lol:

I say we vote for one word that describes the year long British weather season, I'll try with Boringer or Mildumn.

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Interesting in that only the other day I wrote this out from some stats when having a spare hour or two. Its just January but I suspect the other 'winter' months might well be pretty similar.

Is January getting less cold?

Data for this area seems to suggest its pretty undeniable that it is getting less cold

I have data from 1942 for RAF Finningley until it closed in 1995, and then my own data, (direct comparison when Finningley was open allow me to believe my data is pretty close to what Finningley would be showing), from January 1997 to the present time.

Although I kept no records I did run comparison checks over about 18 months of my thermometers with those at Finningley and, they were within 0.2C on average through that time.

I’ve done a ten year mean for Finningley(in some cases less than 10 years but with a note to that effect) and the same for my site.

1942-1950(8years)=3.2C(one years data that of 1943 is missing)

1951-1960=3.2C

1961-1970=3.5C

1971-1980=3.7C

1981-1990=3.9C

1991-closure 1995=4.0C

1997-2000(my data)=5.3C

combined1991-2000=4.6C

2001-2008(8 years)=5.4C

The whole long term average from 1942-2008=3.9C

Taking the 10 year rolling mean shows this

3.2, 3.3, 3.4, 3.5, 3.7, 3.9 with similar for the other rolling means at 20, 30, 40, 50 and 60 years.

To me this shows that the mean 10 year rolling average has increased by 0.7C in the period 1942-2008.

I’ve not looked at any other months, winter, spring, summer or autumn but suspect a rather similar view will appear.

So in the same area over a 60 year+ period the mean temperature for January has risen by 0.7C, not that different from oft quoted world increases over a similar time span? not sure !!! about that comment.

Looking at snow in January then the long term average for Finningley, just prior to its closure, over a 48 year period, was snow falling on 7 days and lying on 5 days(09z observation and >half cover).

The data for my site shows <2 and <1 respectively over the 12 years I have got January data.

Interesting statistics and I make no additional comment.

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Interesting in that only the other day I wrote this out from some stats when having a spare hour or two. Its just January but I suspect the other 'winter' months might well be pretty similar.

Is January getting less cold?

Data for this area seems to suggest its pretty undeniable that it is getting less cold

I have data from 1942 for RAF Finningley until it closed in 1995, and then my own data, (direct comparison when Finningley was open allow me to believe my data is pretty close to what Finningley would be showing), from January 1997 to the present time.

Although I kept no records I did run comparison checks over about 18 months of my thermometers with those at Finningley and, they were within 0.2C on average through that time.

I've done a ten year mean for Finningley(in some cases less than 10 years but with a note to that effect) and the same for my site.

1942-1950(8years)=3.2C(one years data that of 1943 is missing)

1951-1960=3.2C

1961-1970=3.5C

1971-1980=3.7C

1981-1990=3.9C

1991-closure 1995=4.0C

1997-2000(my data)=5.3C

combined1991-2000=4.6C

2001-2008(8 years)=5.4C

The whole long term average from 1942-2008=3.9C

Taking the 10 year rolling mean shows this

3.2, 3.3, 3.4, 3.5, 3.7, 3.9 with similar for the other rolling means at 20, 30, 40, 50 and 60 years.

To me this shows that the mean 10 year rolling average has increased by 0.7C in the period 1942-2008.

I've not looked at any other months, winter, spring, summer or autumn but suspect a rather similar view will appear.

So in the same area over a 60 year+ period the mean temperature for January has risen by 0.7C, not that different from oft quoted world increases over a similar time span? not sure !!! about that comment.

Looking at snow in January then the long term average for Finningley, just prior to its closure, over a 48 year period, was snow falling on 7 days and lying on 5 days(09z observation and >half cover).

The data for my site shows <2 and <1 respectively over the 12 years I have got January data.

Interesting statistics and I make no additional comment.

I don't think you need to John - as you say interesting stats which speak for themsleves, loudly and clearly.

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Winters are indeed disappearing. It's a rather strange quirk of recent years that all three months are returning a similar average temperature (i.e. January and February are no colder than December), while February is snowier than December which is snowier than January.

In fact, in Cleadon since 1993, there have been significantly more noteworthy March snowfalls than January snowfalls, let alone December/February ones.

We have natural variability, and maybe, the global warming trend will be offset in the near future by a change back to prevalence of more favourable synoptics- but this has to happen before the cold air sources become too warm for all but the most potent of midwinter blasts to bring any wintry weather. Temperatures are very likely to return to lower levels sometime in the future, but probably well beyond any of our lifetimes.

At around the turn of the century, I used to think of November as my least favourite climatic month because it was dark and it rarely snowed (unlike in the mid 1990s when I remember snow events in Novembers 1993, 1995 and 1996). These days, that's tending to apply to winter in general- long dark days, and no traditional winter weather to show for it.

In view of the above I'd call autumn and winter as being one long period of late-autumn-ness, since spring, to my mind, is the season when the nights get shorter and, regardless of the state of mild spells, cold snaps etc, we have a decent amount of daylight.

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I think there is still a certain degree of (largely ignorant) denial or obliviousness amongst most people in terms of the full impact of global warming on our winters. People at work for example say "ooh, its been a good winter up on the durham dales", etc and we've had a cold December and "we often get mild Januarys in winter", etc. People seem to be rather selective and ignore the general picture of increasing marginality over the wider area...particularly lowland north-east. Even in the upland dales I'd say there have been many better and snowier winters. Its also worth noting (as Stratos has said before) that people confuse the variability of local or national synoptics and temperatures with the general global variablity (which is less than the former). They then assume that because at the more microscale there is apparent cooling or plateuing...that this must somehow negate the wider picture of growing warmer anamolies.

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Interesting stuff. Data can be manipulated in an infinate amount of ways to 'prove' one thing or another but IMO taking a ten year rolling mean as John has done above is the way to go. Undeniable that we are/have warmed up since the 40's. Is it a blip?? I believe it is but I doubt any of us here will be around to see it go into reverse proper.

However I am also convinced we are in a blip within a blip. The past 12 years are not in keeping with the downward trend, it's just too abrupt. The next 12 years years will be a marked improvement but probably only in terms of a couple of 1995's and maybe an 80's winter thrown in for good measure within the time period.

Talking of 'data manipulation', taking the Manc Indicies posted aboove, the last time we had a severe winter indicie of sub-100 over a three year period was between 1987-88 and 1989-90. Therefore, in the past 18 years we haven't had 3 consecutively as poor winters as back then! :)

I know what I mean I'm not just very good at describing things :lol:

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Wasn't there a run of mild winters in the 1920s + 30s ? And if so were they comparable to the run we are currently experiencing ? My point being that yes, the last ten winters have been generally mild, but the crucial question that I'm not sure has yet been answered definitively is whether this is a new warmer 'standard' for UK winters going forward, or just the repeat of a pattern which has occurred in the past and therefore we will again emerge from into a period of colder winters ?

10 years more like twenty and although the 20s 30s might have been mild they were not uniformly so and if there is a trend going on at the moment I would suggest it’s to milder and milder winters, I can see no signs of a peak.

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