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A Winter's Tale

Failed Battleground Snowfalls Of Dec 26 And 27

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Christmas Day 2010 started off bitterly cold here in Glasgow with temps sub -10c. However during the early hours an area of showers arrived and brought snow showers which dumped a few cm and also meant another white christmas. I remember spending some of my time in the morning watching radar and temperatures and couldn't help resist worrying over 6c temperatures in Tiree. Then came the showers and despite temperatures still below freezing, the precipitation fell as rain.

The thaw was on and I was no longer interested in the prospect of further snow as I travelled to see family in Argyll. I believe that the area of showers that initially brought snow to Scotland on Xmas Morning managed to raise upper temperatures and therefore cause a thaw. Considering temps had been below -4c for many, many day, for the temperature to rise to 0c to -2c seemed like the end of the Big Freeze.

My first question is, if that area of low pressure had never arrived in Scotland or failed to bring temperatures up, would we have seen an incredible battleground snowfall on Boxing Day with an incoming front meeting very cold air. If there had been a battleground snowfall, we would have experienced an extra 10-30cm of snow ontop of depths of 5-20cm. However, there are other factors that may influence the final outcome but I believe if the slushy breakdown event over Scotland had never happened, I believe conditions would be favourable for one helluva snowfall.

Although the Big Freeze had ended in Scotland on Boxing Day, some parts of England and Wales were still under pretty cold air. However, a forecast that warned of yet another battleground snowfall completely failed to materialise.

During the past two winters, we have seen incredible Big Freezes, however this historic events came to an unispiring end with a strange breakdown on January 13/14 2010 and Christmas 2010. During each of those cold spells, I hoped and expected a dramatic end to the cold spells. I was very surprised when the 2009/2010 big freeze came to uneventful end, however in December 2010 I really expected a dramatic end.

I'd like to know why our Big Freeze's never had a proper battleground snowfall and why so many promised battleground snowfall events came to nothing. It just makes you wonder how December 2010 would have ended and of course how long January 2010 would have lasted as the breakdown was not forecast at all and the Big Freeze was set to continue.

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The air which arrived into Scotland from off the atlantic on the 26th was very saturated and very mild indeed having a tropical maritime feed bed within it - hence ot was full of very high dewpoints and with a prevailing west/south west wind as opposed to southerly/southeasterly it was always going to be a quick end to the exceptional cold spell.

A battleground snowfall would have only occured had heights been much stronger to our NE - however, they were weakening all the time on christmas day, and the front which arrived late on boxing day aligned itself in the worse position for long lasting snow i.e. SW/NE axis as opposed to a NW/SE axis indicative of the falling heights occuring over the country at the time. There was no resistance towards the impending mild air.

Christmas Day 2010 saw scotland still in very cold air apart from the far west. The showers which fell near you were freezing rain. Here in Windermere we recorded 2cm of snow during the day - it was a big shock as the forecast was for dry conditions. I think a shallow shortwave feature moved in from off the atlantic.

The early hours of the 27th brought moderate wet snowfall here - 3 inches but it was thawing as it fell and it quickly became slushy during the day. By the 29th all traces of snow were gone..

Battleground snowfalls occur when you have a fight between high pressure and low pressure - a battleground which ends in the cold winning out is indicative of strong heights remaining stubborn and uncutting any frontal attack, conversely shortlived battleground situations ending in the cold losing usually means the strong heights are weakening in situ. March 2006 was a classic battleground situation whereby heights built strongly to our NE undercutting the milder air and thus meaning the cold held sway. I always believe battlegrounds are more likely to occur later in the winter season than earlier on - generally because the atlantic tends to have much less energy and cold heights normally have the upper hand hilding and gaining strength to our NE/N. Many of our big snowfalls in early sring have come courtesy of battleground situations - April 1981 being an extreme example.

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Atlantic attack came from wrong angle, needed a SE airstream, instead the SW wind arrived before the front, remember it well, upper air temps were around 0-2°C, always too warm for snow, bbc meto seemed to give snow which were wrong, also another chance on 28th Dec which was also just rain, bbc meto predicted huge snow for NE England, GFS were giving pure rain at upper air temps of around 2°C

most of southern UK saw no more cold and snow after the Atlantic won through on 28th

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During the past two winters, we have seen incredible Big Freezes, however this historic events came to an unispiring end with a strange breakdown on January 13/14 2010 and Christmas 2010. During each of those cold spells, I hoped and expected a dramatic end to the cold spells. I was very surprised when the 2009/2010 big freeze came to uneventful end, however in December 2010 I really expected a dramatic end.

.

I think it goes to show not all famous freeze ups or just general cold spells end in snowy breakdowns. Not that many do actually. 1962-63 never did. January 1982 never did. February 1986 never did. January 1987 never did, December 1995 never did. I don't think February 1895 did.

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Was that the end of the really cold weather for Winter of 2010/2011, or did you have a return in January?

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Scotland had more snow in January and March.

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For England and Wales that was the end of the really cold weather for 2010/11, but Arctic air returned between the 5th and 10th January bringing some short-lived snowfalls from the Midlands northwards. I recall that northern Scotland held onto the cold air, without interruptions, from the 5th-12th though, and some parts of lowland Scotland (especially the north and east) held onto some of December's snow cover through to mid-January.

For most of us February-May 2011 were exceptionally snowless, though as Aaron mentioned, some places had snow in the second week of March, mainly Scotland and higher parts of northern England.

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Well after a snowy December and a snow on the ground white Christmas, including the lowest maximum for Christmas day I've ever recorded at -5C because of the fog, we had no snow all winter apart from one day in January, where we got around 2-3 inches before melting a few hours later!

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For England and Wales that was the end of the really cold weather for 2010/11, but Arctic air returned between the 5th and 10th January bringing some short-lived snowfalls from the Midlands northwards. I recall that northern Scotland held onto the cold air, without interruptions, from the 5th-12th though, and some parts of lowland Scotland (especially the north and east) held onto some of December's snow cover through to mid-January.

For most of us February-May 2011 were exceptionally snowless, though as Aaron mentioned, some places had snow in the second week of March, mainly Scotland and higher parts of northern England.

In Derbyshire there were also two instances of temporary snowfall settling down to the relatively low altitudes of 250m and 150m respectively in late February. However, I believe that was the last settling snowfall of the year (there was some snowfall in mid March, though it never settled below 500m). Perhaps the next nearest occurrence wasn't until early-mid June, where Welsh mountains received snowfall down to moderate altitudes, so perhaps the Pennines and Peak District had a chance too, but I don't recall seeing anything vaguely wintry. An exceptionally mild and snowless spring indeed.

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2010/11 was a strange winter indeed. Exceptionally cold December and then a non-descript Jan/Feb/Early spring. However, snow totals were nothing to write home in December, no better than average really. Rest of winter/spring were almost completely snowless.

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In Derbyshire there were also two instances of temporary snowfall settling down to the relatively low altitudes of 250m and 150m respectively in late February. However, I believe that was the last settling snowfall of the year (there was some snowfall in mid March, though it never settled below 500m). Perhaps the next nearest occurrence wasn't until early-mid June, where Welsh mountains received snowfall down to moderate altitudes, so perhaps the Pennines and Peak District had a chance too, but I don't recall seeing anything vaguely wintry. An exceptionally mild and snowless spring indeed.

Despite February being our warmest winter month of 2011, it also recorded my deepest snowfall for the year.. rather odd, but then again January was very dry.

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28th December was the final day of lying snow of the season here. The last falling snow was on 4th January and although there was technically a day of sleet/snow falling on the 28th February, it was just sleet.

Overall January - May was the least snowy Ive ever recorded, only 3 days recorded sleet/snow falling and Spring as a whole was entirely snowless. The only other year to manage that was 2003.

It was all very unusual after the snowiest November, December and year on record just before. Unless 2011 records 4 more days of sleet/snow falling it'll be the least snowiest year Ive ever recorded.

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28th December was the final day of lying snow of the season here. The last falling snow was on 4th January and although there was technically a day of sleet/snow falling on the 28th February, it was just sleet.

Overall January - May was the least snowy Ive ever recorded, only 3 days recorded sleet/snow falling and Spring as a whole was entirely snowless. The only other year to manage that was 2003.

It was all very unusual after the snowiest November, December and year on record just before. Unless 2011 records 4 more days of sleet/snow falling it'll be the least snowiest year Ive ever recorded.

A similar situation here too. The last morning with lying snow was Feb' 21st and there have been only 3 snow lying mornings so far this year, easily the lowest number on record as the previous lowest at this stage was 6 in 1992 and 1998.

14 days with sleet or snow falling so far this year is equal lowest with 2007.

A remarkable turnaround after November and December 2010.

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A similar situation here too. The last morning with lying snow was Feb' 21st and there have been only 3 snow lying mornings so far this year, easily the lowest number on record as the previous lowest at this stage was 6 in 1992 and 1998.

14 days with sleet or snow falling so far this year is equal lowest with 2007.

A remarkable turnaround after November and December 2010.

Bizzare winter the last one. Probably had more snowfall here in November than the entire winter. No heavy snowfall after 3rd Dec. Although cold ,there wasn't much snowfall in Dec after the first few days in December. The rapid thaw around 9th Dec mean the rest of month we only had a few cm.

I wouldn't be surprised if this coming winter is much milder yet produce many more snowfall events here.

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Bizzare winter the last one. Probably had more snowfall here in November than the entire winter. No heavy snowfall after 3rd Dec. Although cold ,there wasn't much snowfall in Dec after the first few days in December. The rapid thaw around 9th Dec mean the rest of month we only had a few cm.

I wouldn't be surprised if this coming winter is much milder yet produce many more snowfall events here.

Yes last winter was a very odd one - unusually top heavy. We have recorded only four days with snow falling this year. Nothing after the 19th February.

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