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ZONE 51

Classic Winter Chat

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Its likely this is going to be interesting, those old days snowy winters that were quite common then, but now they are appearing again, what caused the 46/47 and 62/63 winters to be so severe? why was there snowy winters a few or more in a row 37-42 thats 5 in a row! (going by some hopefully correct data on research)-how do they compare to 2009/10 ,are we in a phase of colder winters now? please discuss, and upload charts/data.

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why was there snowy winters a few or more in a row 37-42 thats 5 in a row!

For a long time I took Bonacina analysis at face value but looking at individual months I have become increasingly sceptical.

Take 1937-38, it is down as snowy. March and April 1938 were completely snowless, so no spring snowfalls. January and February 1938 were mild, although there were some snowfalls as you would expect. December 1937 was cold and there were snowfalls during that month as well but overall I personally would not have called this winter, snowy.

1938-39 is also down as snowy and there was a snowy spell in the run up to Christmas 1938 but it was a restrictive period. Up until mid-December 1938, it had been completely snowless. There were some notable snowfalls during January but it wasn't wall to wall snowfalls.

In these two winters down as snowy, the snowfalls were in very restrictive periods, which brings the question to me is a week of heavy snowfalls and the rest of the winter being completely snowless, a snowy winter?

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Regrettably the only records I have kept are in my memory and whilst time plays tricks I recall the winters of 40-42 being snowy and then 47,after that 56 and of course 62-63,68 and 69,followed by an hiatus until 78 and then 79(which for my area was certainly the snowiest that I can remember clearly ( I was rather young back in 47),there were some notable snowy spells in the 80's but the 90's were mainly non-events-lets hope we are now in for a run of colder snowier winters.

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For a long time I took Bonacina analysis at face value but looking at individual months I have become increasingly sceptical.

I don't know if you saw/remember it, but I came up with an alternative analysis of winter snowiness for the period 1947-2009 (now updated to 2010) based on a variety of sources including Dr Richard Wild's articles in the Journal of Meteorology, Philip Eden & Trevor Harley's historical articles, the Met Office's weather/snow reports going back to 1947, and Bonacina's analysis. It assigns a rating from 1 to 5 for each individual snow event of a season on the basis of severity and geographical distribution (5-6 January 2010 was the first "category 5" event since 7-9 February 1991). I could re-upload the file with the details of the individual winters if anyone is interested.

All methods of assessing winter snowiness have their downsides, and the downside of my method is that it fails to take into account severity/persistence of cold or duration of snow cover, so for instance last winter's total was heavily bolstered by a large number of marginal snow events in February 2010 which, to many snow lovers, was a disappointing month because of how marginal everything was.

Snow cover can be assessed using "Eden snow days" but I don't have access to enough data to come up with anything meaningful there. An alternative may be to combine the "snowiness" figures with a UK-wide version of the Manchester winter index, although the Met Office only freely provides relevant data going back to 1961.

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I don't know if you saw/remember it, but I came up with an alternative analysis of winter snowiness for the period 1947-2009 (now updated to 2010) based on a variety of sources including Dr Richard Wild's articles in the Journal of Meteorology, Philip Eden & Trevor Harley's historical articles, the Met Office's weather/snow reports going back to 1947, and Bonacina's analysis. It assigns a rating from 1 to 5 for each individual snow event of a season on the basis of severity and geographical distribution (5-6 January 2010 was the first "category 5" event since 7-9 February 1991). I could re-upload the file with the details of the individual winters if anyone is interested.

All methods of assessing winter snowiness have their downsides, and the downside of my method is that it fails to take into account severity/persistence of cold or duration of snow cover, so for instance last winter's total was heavily bolstered by a large number of marginal snow events in February 2010 which, to many snow lovers, was a disappointing month because of how marginal everything was.

Snow cover can be assessed using "Eden snow days" but I don't have access to enough data to come up with anything meaningful there. An alternative may be to combine the "snowiness" figures with a UK-wide version of the Manchester winter index, although the Met Office only freely provides relevant data going back to 1961.

Would be great to see that again TWS!

Can you not just keep it in your sig?

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Maybe this is the link referred to earlier?

http://www.napier.ec...r/bonacina.html

Hope that`s of interest anyway.

Thanks for sharing, but I was actually referring to what TWS had put together. People were referring to a document, but I thought the link I posted was the same thing.

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Yes, that's the idea- I think it would be a bit daft not to, after going to the effort of covering 1947-2010!

Haha, of course! Excellent read. World War II to now! Interesting to see 1962-63 not as snowy as I though, and 2009-10 the third snowiest!

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1962/63 came out with a lower score because that winter was more remarkable for intensity and persistence of cold, and associated persistence of snow cover.

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interesting read..but how do you decide what falls into the different categories?... i mean the great south west blizzard of 19-21st Feb 1978 is only a four yet it is by far in a way the biggest snowfall i have ever seen and probably one of the worst blizzards to hit anywhere in the UK during the 20th Century...but 12-14th Feb the same year is a five??

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Thanks for file TWS.

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I can't put the document into my signature unfortunately, but I can certainly add it to this post:

Winter_Snow_Events revision 2010.doc

Interesting, although I note you didn't include 2009/10 in your conclusionsie > 50

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I would of thought 1962-63 would`ve come 2nd after 1947.

Not as I was around then,but what I`ve heard is folk walking over top of hedges without knowing it with the snow so deep.

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Interesting thread.

Taking the winters of 1963, 1979 and 2010 as the three coldest in the past 50 years, we can look at the state of the MEI (El Nino/La Nina), QBO and PDO during those winters and see the effect on the AO..

1963 - Strenghtening La Nina, Mature -QBO, weakening -PDO

1979 - Mature El Nino, strenghtening +QBO, strenghtening -PDO

2010 - Strengthening El Nino, strengthening -QBO, Mature +PDO

As you can see, no one factor looks responsible.

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Interesting thread.

Taking the winters of 1963, 1979 and 2010 as the three coldest in the past 50 years, we can look at the state of the MEI (El Nino/La Nina), QBO and PDO during those winters and see the effect on the AO..

1963 - Strenghtening La Nina, Mature -QBO, weakening -PDO

1979 - Mature El Nino, strenghtening +QBO, strenghtening -PDO

2010 - Strengthening El Nino, strengthening -QBO, Mature +PDO

As you can see, no one factor looks responsible.

Interesting. this winter we have low solar/sunspot activity(as last winter) anyone know what it was doing during those periods(above) oh and can you do 55+data/ QBO/other. thanks .

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1947 was at the beginning of solar cycle 18

1963 was a minimum just after a very active cycle 19

1979 was in the middle of cycle 21

2010 was at the start of a delayed and subdued cycle 24

If you use the Maunder and Dalton periods as examples, then it is not so much the solar minimums that seem to influence our temperatures but the subdued or almost non existant maximums. For this reason, I would suggest that other factors were at play with regard to last winter and if cycle 24 and 25 do prove to be very low cycles, then the effects of these are yet to be felt.

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1947 was at the beginning of solar cycle 18

1963 was a minimum just after a very active cycle 19

1979 was in the middle of cycle 21

2010 was at the start of a delayed and subdued cycle 24

If you use the Maunder and Dalton periods as examples, then it is not so much the solar minimums that seem to influence our temperatures but the subdued or almost non existant maximums. For this reason, I would suggest that other factors were at play with regard to last winter and if cycle 24 and 25 do prove to be very low cycles, then the effects of these are yet to be felt.

This is a point I've tried to drive home so many times. People speak of the 11 year cycle minimas being a big factor, they are not. What is a factor is how subdued is the sun during its minima and maxima in an 11 year cycle. If the sunspot stays at or below 60 then we are heading into true grand minima territory...its the bigger cycle that counts and we are now in the 210 year cycle which funnily enough last time was the Dalton minima. I think cycle 24 is playing a part now but I also agree with your thoughts.

BFTP

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i have been rooting around in my loft today, and i have found an old newspaper. it is the western morning news, which as you can probably guess covers the southwest. now the date was what first caught my eye....13.01.1987.... i immediately thought that was quite snazzy as its a few days before i was born. then being a weather enthusiast my eyes caught glimpse of the headline on the front 'white hell with more on the way'. i read the article, which was more than extensive and some of the points in there were quite amazing. a foot of snow fell in penzance in 9 hours was probably the best one along with an extract from a national paper of big ben struggling to chime as his works had froze! i would imagine from reading this 1987 is held in high regards in these parts. it has a hand drawn forecast map showing that we had strong easterly winds i think. even the isles of scilly had 4 inches. can anybody else remember this and there experiences?

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