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The Blizzard Of 1891

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Apologies if this has already been covered but I got a severe headache going through previous posts.

The blizzard that hit the West Country on Monday the 9th of March 1891 was arguably the worst storm suffered by Devon and Cornwall in the 19th century. Fortunately it wasn’t of long duration but in a short time created havoc and a number of people died. Some were frozen to death not far from their home but the vast majority perished at sea. For example the “Bay of Panama,†of London, a four-mast steel ship, went ashore on the 10th at Penare Point, near the Helford River with the loss of twenty lives. The storm went on to affect the rest of southern England. The following is an extract from the West Briton, Thursday the 12th. The PDF is an account of the storm taken from Symons’s monthly Meteorological Magazine.

Terrific Snowstorm

Railways blocked

Trains embedded in the snow drifts

Wrecks and loss of life

Cornwall, in common with many other parts of the country has been visited this week by a terrific snow storm-a “blizzard†is the most appropriate word by which to describe it-for which no parallel can be found in the annals of recent history. All was serene on Monday morning, but within 24 hours from that time the whole of the West of England was lying under a bed of snow many feet deep in some places; railway trains were snowed up in different localities; business was paralysed; the telegraph system was little else than a complete wreck; and towns and villages were alike isolated.

It is more than probable that the ravages of the storm were not confined to the western counties, but as a result of the interruption of communication by train or telegraph, the events that have transpired beyond that area since Monday evening, are as a sealed book to the people of the West. Indeed, through the same cause, we are at the time of writing in absolute ignorance as to the fate of those residing within a dozen miles of our office.

Such information that has reached us points, conclusively to the fact that both in and out of the county the storm-though of brief duration-has been of excessive severity, and when the results can be catalogued they will, no doubt, represent a serious record.. The fall of snow that commenced on Monday morning, and continued with only a few brief intervals of cessation until the following evening, was one of the heaviest ever known in this part of the world, and it was accompanied by a terrific gale, which not only had the effect of materially increasing the serious results arising from such a phenomenal snow-fall, but wrought of its own accord considerable destruction and devastation.

Nowhere are the effects of its ravages more clearly to be traced than on the railway, where telegraph poles have been blown down by wholesale, and the telegraphic connection between various stations reduced to chaos. In addition to this the snow was blown into such deep and solid drifts that the passage of trains became impossible, and, as a consequence, railway communication both in and with the west has been almost entirely suspended.

The Great Snowstorm of March 1891.pdf

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Edited by weather ship

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Thanks for putting this on WS, a very interesting read.

Looking at the historical charts, that snowstorm followed quite a cold winter, March 1891 continued to be cold with repeated northerly outbreaks, the CET was 3.8c, which was colder then than February.

December 1890, CET –0.8, January 1891, 1.3c,February, 3.9c.

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Thanks for putting this on WS, a very interesting read.

Looking at the historical charts, that snowstorm followed quite a cold winter, March 1891 continued to be cold with repeated northerly outbreaks, the CET was 3.8c, which was colder then than February.

December 1890, CET –0.8, January 1891, 1.3c,February, 3.9c.

One thing that did cross my mind on posting this was how did they measure snow depths in the 19th century? I admit I don't know. It's actually still quite complicated to this day to get an accurate level snow depth as I assume many members on here realise.. Fortunately I won't see another snowboard.

http://www.suite101.com/content/how-to-measure-snowfall-correctly-a78360

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Quite amazing i have read and seen pictures in a book of the event, i was thinking that the great snowfall of 18inces level in feb09 here, what if we had a gale to think of the drifts!

As it says trains were buried i would imagine 2or3ft fell with drifts of 20ft thats just a guess, can someone look up this they would have recorded the depth.

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