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Optimus Prime

Bbc Forecast 12th January 1987

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A fairly brief forecast from Ian McCaskill covering the 12th January 1987 and some nice pictures from the uploader afterwards.;

Ians jacket looks a lot cleaner in his 1991 forecast.

Edited by Optimus Prime

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2 things that struck me about that forecast, firstly where are the warnings?! If that was today, that forecast map would be plastered with warnings but not one mention of a warning. Secondly, where was the word blizzard or blizzard like conditions? Never mentioned once despite the snow and the strength of the winds which infact he said would increase.

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Beat me to it Mr Data, no travel advice, no severe weather warnings and no predicted snow depths....a much simpler time!

I just wonder how the Daily Express headline writers coped.

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Yes, you have got to love the simple structure to the BBC forecast prior to information alerts having to be broadcast in life or death situations like they are now. This can only be attributed to less severe weather we experience these days as well as a massive increase in demand from consumers

What strikes me more though are the graphics. So much better than the childrens water painting we have had since 2005. I love how the forecast was simpler but less in the face of the watcher. It was more scientific in those days whereas these days it's made for a dumbed down society-well never!

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The video is actually for Wednesday 14th of January and while it is still bitterly

cold, we have lost the exceptionally cold uppers and -7 to -9c maximum that

central southern and eastern areas experienced the previous two days.

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Looking over the Wetterzentrale archive, it probably was indeed the 14th, as the 12th didn't have that deep depression over Europe. Most of the accounts that I've seen of the event suggest a spell of "sunshine and snow showers" for most on the 11th-13th, followed by a cloudy spell with some more snow on the 14th and a transition to freezing drizzle for some parts afterwards. It wouldn't surprise me if the forecasts underestimated the potential for freezing rain as the pool of warmer upper air headed in from the SE.

Like many others I preferred the forecasts back in those days, and it also reminds me of the change in tabloid coverage of the weather- the earlier articles may have been a bit "dry" but they were very factual and extensive in their coverage.

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Superb viewing - I think it is the first time someone has managed to put on the web bbc forecast footage of the infamous jan 87 events.

Love to see bbc forecast footage of any of the following spells

Dec 81

Jan 82

Jan 85

Late Dec 95

Feb 4/5/6 96

There are some good ones on youtube of Feb 85, Feb 86, Feb 91 and of course we have recent ones from Feb 09, Dec 09, Jan 10, Nov and Dec 10.

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I've just been reading this and perhaps some actual weather data for that period may help get the flavour?

Max temps

0.1 on 10

-4.0 on 11

-5.7 on 12

-3.8 on13

-0.4 on 14

the cold spell ended 20th with a max of 5.8

min temps all below 0.0 from 7 to 20 less one day=16=0.7

converted snow into equivalent rainfall

11=0.9

12=5.7

13=7.7

no daily data available on my weather stats for wind speeds

The above is for RAF Finningley

no idea of the reported level snow depths, that will be on another form which I have not got.

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I love the old weather graphics. I used to get very excited when i saw the lightning one.

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Looking over the Wetterzentrale archive, it probably was indeed the 14th, as the 12th didn't have that deep depression over Europe. Most of the accounts that I've seen of the event suggest a spell of "sunshine and snow showers" for most on the 11th-13th, followed by a cloudy spell with some more snow on the 14th and a transition to freezing drizzle for some parts afterwards.

From what I recall Ian, you are correct. Sunday 11th was the first really cold day with strong winds and light flurries blowing on a strengthening wind. I particularly remember largely clear skies during the flurries as the wind blew the snow a long way from the clouds whence it was sourced. It was also memorable because even this light snow did not melt in direct sunlight. The Monday and Tuesday following were similar (IIRC correctly, Monday 12th was the day Terry Waite was kidnapped in Beiruit. I know this because I was glued to all news broadcasts awaiting weather forecasts - the area of deep blue flooding west across Europe was fascinating to me!), but even colder. What most of the younger people who didn't experience the cold spell may not realise is just how strong the wind was; combine the incredibly low maximum temperatures with sustained E/NE winds of 30mph and it feels bitter (something I've only felt since in Chicago in similar temperatures and wind). The snow, as I recall, fell overnight Tuesday into Wednesday (in the Reading area anyway), which would have been the 14th. The snow was fairly deep in Reading, but it was the cold which caused problems; we went to school as normal on the Wednesday, but the cold weather caused the heating to break down as a pipe fractured and we were sent home until the following Monday.

Incidentally, the bit at the end of the forecast (Coldwatch?) is interesting. It is the first example I can recall of hype surrounding severe weather which would of course become more common following the October storm later the same year. They started the Coldwatch program just as the worst of the weather had passed. By the time this forecast was broadcast, I believe Eastern England had been bombarded by heavy snow showers since the Saturday or Sunday and depths were huge by then. Once the angry low pressure had passed as shown in the forecast, the flow was cut off, and the spell gradually came to an end making the 'Coldwatch' program little more than literal hot air. Little did I realise at the time just how historic the spell had been and just how long it would be before we saw something similar (February 1991 was also a classic, but after that you have to wait until January 2010 for Reading!).

1987 was certainly an eventful year weatherwise!

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From what I recall Ian, you are correct. Sunday 11th was the first really cold day with strong winds and light flurries blowing on a strengthening wind. I particularly remember largely clear skies during the flurries as the wind blew the snow a long way from the clouds whence it was sourced. It was also memorable because even this light snow did not melt in direct sunlight. The Monday and Tuesday following were similar (IIRC correctly, Monday 12th was the day Terry Waite was kidnapped in Beiruit. I know this because I was glued to all news broadcasts awaiting weather forecasts - the area of deep blue flooding west across Europe was fascinating to me!), but even colder. What most of the younger people who didn't experience the cold spell may not realise is just how strong the wind was; combine the incredibly low maximum temperatures with sustained E/NE winds of 30mph and it feels bitter (something I've only felt since in Chicago in similar temperatures and wind). The snow, as I recall, fell overnight Tuesday into Wednesday (in the Reading area anyway), which would have been the 14th. The snow was fairly deep in Reading, but it was the cold which caused problems; we went to school as normal on the Wednesday, but the cold weather caused the heating to break down as a pipe fractured and we were sent home until the following Monday.

Incidentally, the bit at the end of the forecast (Coldwatch?) is interesting. It is the first example I can recall of hype surrounding severe weather which would of course become more common following the October storm later the same year. They started the Coldwatch program just as the worst of the weather had passed. By the time this forecast was broadcast, I believe Eastern England had been bombarded by heavy snow showers since the Saturday or Sunday and depths were huge by then. Once the angry low pressure had passed as shown in the forecast, the flow was cut off, and the spell gradually came to an end making the 'Coldwatch' program little more than literal hot air. Little did I realise at the time just how historic the spell had been and just how long it would be before we saw something similar (February 1991 was also a classic, but after that you have to wait until January 2010 for Reading!).

1987 was certainly an eventful year weatherwise!

I was 13 years old living in Essex when this happened, and remember learning from previous winters that when the wind came from the East, it would be cold.

When the cold front came through on the Saturday night, it had left the ground damp, but by dawn any moisture was solid ice, the one thing that sticks in my mind was the frozen raindrops on the car, it was like they were in suspended animation!

Me and my friends spent all day playing out front waiting for the snow.

The first flurries arrived by dark and left a dry powdery dusting on the black tarmac paths.

Had school the next day so was surprised to wake up with only a dusting of snow.

The Monday was bright and sunny and still no snow, remember us all waiting outside the classroom for lesson, and the wind so bitter it went right through you.

But Monday night the heavy snow came and by Tuesday got sent home from school because of frozen pipes and poor heating.

Also remember any houses that had dripping overflow pipes had massive icicles hanging all the way down the walls, some were six inches in diameter.

1987 will allways stay in my mind for the extreme weather that year, and being a teenager when life was so much simpler.

Edited by 80sWeather

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From what I recall Ian, you are correct. Sunday 11th was the first really cold day with strong winds and light flurries blowing on a strengthening wind. I particularly remember largely clear skies during the flurries as the wind blew the snow a long way from the clouds whence it was sourced. It was also memorable because even this light snow did not melt in direct sunlight. The Monday and Tuesday following were similar (IIRC correctly, Monday 12th was the day Terry Waite was kidnapped in Beiruit. I know this because I was glued to all news broadcasts awaiting weather forecasts - the area of deep blue flooding west across Europe was fascinating to me!), but even colder. What most of the younger people who didn't experience the cold spell may not realise is just how strong the wind was; combine the incredibly low maximum temperatures with sustained E/NE winds of 30mph and it feels bitter (something I've only felt since in Chicago in similar temperatures and wind). The snow, as I recall, fell overnight Tuesday into Wednesday (in the Reading area anyway), which would have been the 14th. The snow was fairly deep in Reading, but it was the cold which caused problems; we went to school as normal on the Wednesday, but the cold weather caused the heating to break down as a pipe fractured and we were sent home until the following Monday.

Incidentally, the bit at the end of the forecast (Coldwatch?) is interesting. It is the first example I can recall of hype surrounding severe weather which would of course become more common following the October storm later the same year. They started the Coldwatch program just as the worst of the weather had passed. By the time this forecast was broadcast, I believe Eastern England had been bombarded by heavy snow showers since the Saturday or Sunday and depths were huge by then. Once the angry low pressure had passed as shown in the forecast, the flow was cut off, and the spell gradually came to an end making the 'Coldwatch' program little more than literal hot air. Little did I realise at the time just how historic the spell had been and just how long it would be before we saw something similar (February 1991 was also a classic, but after that you have to wait until January 2010 for Reading!).

1987 was certainly an eventful year weatherwise!

seems that the south and east had it much worse than here more snow and colder,although we had a reasonable amount of snow with plenty of 4 ft drifts and bitter cold it was prob the same as 86 for snow but 86 lasted for 6 weeks had stiff east winds almost all feb unrelenting,was living at 350metre at the time can only imagine what 47 was like!!!!!!!!!!!

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I have good recollections of the cold in January 1987. We were learning about the weather at school at the time and I remember each morning having to measure the air temperature and it was about -5 degrees. I don't think we saw alot of snow but it did stick around for quite a bit. It was an unusually cold spell in the middle of an average/mild winter on the whole, indeed Dec 86 was very mild and wet, Feb 87 was a little below average. However, we saw a very cold March with further heavy snow. After a long run of cold winters with lots of snow, the following three were preety snowless and far too mild.

In terms of maximum temperatures, it was a record breaking cold spell.. will we ever see such a deep seated freezing easterly again?

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