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Winter Of 1739-40

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The famous Naturalist Gilbert White, writes about the terrible winter of 1739-40. He mentions that of terrible frosts and cold N/E winds carried on through April and May, stopping Redwings and Feidfares departing for Scandinavia until early June!

Are there anymore reports of that winter? What sort of weather patterns do you think occured that year ?

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1739: October, Easterly wind set in heralding frosts. The beginning of another 'Big One!'.

1739-40: Severe winter, one of the worst. May have been worse than that of 1715 (?). Late December saw a severely strong Easterly gale set up, brining very cold air over the UK. Ice formed on the Thames, once again. Streets were blocked up with ice and snow, which made travelling hazardous. The Thames remained frozen over for about 8 weeks (?). Some reports said this winter was the most severe on record, with temperatures falling to -24c in early January (1995 beat this and holds the record for the coldest minima in the UK ever). The Easterly gale persisted, with snow and frost becoming an increasing hazard to all. Northerlies also started up, very strong in places, with again snow and ice. This winter can be noted as one of the most severe of all time (since records began).

http://www.netweather.tv/index.cgi?action=other;type=winthist

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Winter 1739/40 is one of the great winters ever recorded, I don't think it was as cold as 1683-84 but it was colder than 1813-14 I think - might have years wrong here.

Also beat the very cold 1794-95 and 1962/63.

I'm guessing but I would imagine it saw high pressure firmly sat over iceland/greenland linking in with the siberian high from time to time delivering alternating bitter siberian easterlies and snow leaden north/northeasterlies - would love to see the synoptics for that winter.

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The famous Naturalist Gilbert White, writes about the terrible winter of 1739-40. He mentions that of terrible frosts and cold N/E winds carried on through April and May, stopping Redwings and Feidfares departing for Scandinavia until early June!

Are there anymore reports of that winter? What sort of weather patterns do you think occured that year ?

Thats going back someone and I'm not sure many forum members would have been around then, JH maybe ? :acute:

Interesting read about the mild winters preceeding 1739/40

http://unchartedterr...0-and-all-that/

Edited by stewfox

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On the last day of 1739, Ireland awoke to find itself in the grip of a mini Ice Age. Rivers froze, mills seized up, and houses could not be heated above freezing point. Some people were enchanted by the novelty of it all. Carnivals, dances and sheep-roasting were held on the ice. It was reported at the time that a hurling match was played on the frozen Shannon River, while a fair was held on the frozen Lee River in Cork, one of the most southerly rivers in Ireland. It was said that it was so cold that alcohol froze and birds dropped from the sky, frozen in mid flight.

However the euphoria was not to last for in its wake came drought, flood, fire, famine and plague that have had few parallels in the recorded history of this island. Fuel prices rocketed and the poor began to freeze to death. However, a greater tragedy was unfolding, in early 1740 as the cold conditions continued the potato crop began to die and with it the seedlings that should have ensured a future crop. Even the cattle and sheep perished. This cold lasted into February and was not followed by the usual rains.

In January 1740, nature itself seemed to turn against the people. A winter of terrible coldness fell across the country. The temperatures fell so much that the ports were blocked by ice and coal could not be brought in from Britain. In the 1700s, without central heating, electricity, rail or reliable road transport, coal, the most common means of heating, was brought by boat. The frozen harbours and rivers meant that it could not be delivered to many towns. This had the effect of causing coal prices to soar. As a result hedges, trees, and nurseries around Dublin were stripped bare as desperate people searched for substitute fuel.

By April people were beginning to fear the worse. Whatever farm animals that survived the heavy frosts now had nothing to graze upon. The corn, which had been planted in the hope that the rain would come, failed to grow in the fields. The price of corn more than doubled which led to disturbances. In Drogheda a corn ship was boarded by the mob and its load removed, in Dublin mobs attacked bakeries in the search for bread. The drought caused mill streams to dry up thus preventing corn mills from making the flour. It also caused the timbers of houses to dry out and many fires took hold in diverse towns and villages.

As people starved that winter, the new year of 1741 saw the outbreak of typhus and dysentery. With a population already severely weakened by starvation, 1741 became known as “The Year of The Slaughterâ€. In many ways it had become the perfect storm within which starvation and disease decimated the population.

In September 1741, the bad weather returned in the form of violent gales which were followed by heavy blizzards in October. Then in November two terrible storms hit the country and these brought snow and frost. On the 9th December there was severe flooding throughout the country and the very next day the frost returned.

Exact figures of the number of people who died are unknown but most historians accept a figure somewhere around 400,000 from a population of about 3 million. This event did not have the same impact upon the mind of the populace as the famine a century later largely because it did not spark the large-scale emigration that followed the famine of 1845.

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Fascinating, sundog...but you should really at least credit/link to the source when you copy big chunks like this verbatim - especially where, as in this case, the blog you found it on seems to have lifted it, in whole or in part, from a fairly recent book, Arctic Ireland by David Dickson. The book is both in print and in copyright. See http://www.whiterowpress.com/arctic.htm .

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