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A Winter's Tale

Your Memories Of The Late December Cold Spells Of 1995 And 2000

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Most people would agree that winter properly gets going after Christmas (although brief snowfalls in the north are possible throughout the month). Now, other than the classic winters of 46/47 & 62/63 which saw prolonged cold spell(s) starting from Post Xmas onwards, there aren't many other examples of the first/only decent cold spell of the winter around about the start of what most people would describe as the start of the proper cold and snow [late December].

However I've found the late December cold spells of 1995 and 2000 which were decent cold spells and they probably had the best snowfalls of those of winters. I wasn't around during the cold and snow of late 95, but I've heard that it saw some decent snowfalls and in particular very cold temperatures with -20C being recorded in Scottish Cities. If anyone could post links about those record breaking temps, some charts and an explanation to why it was so cold would be great!

The December 2000 cold spell is one I remember well. I was over at family on Christmas Eve with heavy snow falling outside and woke up on Christmas Morning to a deep covering of snow. It stayed around for a while and towards the end there was some more snow. As the snow melted on the lower ground, we went up all the way to the nearby Campsie Fells where it was a total whiteout.

I certainly have some memories of one of those late December cold spells but how about you?

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Remember those two spells very well indeed.

December 1995 was a good winters month. It started off very mild, however, on the 5th high pressure delivered a strong cold easterly and snow to many eastern and southern parts. Thereafter it was generall cold throughout up to christmas with some temporary milder interludes at times, any snowfalls were light but there was alot of frosty sunny dry weather. One the 23rd the elusive 'arctic high' began to build strongly and with a very weak atlantic it quickly surged southwestwards into the north atlantic bringing down an exceptionally cold blast especially to scotland and n england, n ireland. Christmas eve saw a polar low develop delivering trifling amounts of snow to the northern isles and NE scotland. Snow fell in many eastern coastal counties on christmas day. Under the high temps fell quickly and much of scotland saw temps easily down to -15 degrees by the 27th. Here we recorded 7 ice days in a row. I remember icicles everywhere and frost inside the windows - we didn't have central heating at the time. The cold ended on New Years eve thanks to a surge of milder air from the south, many places saw alot of freezing rain.

Dec 2000 - after a very mild first half to the month with lots of rain, the atlantic weakened considerably in the run up to christmas. The day itself was cold and frosty but we had no snow on the ground. The night of the 27th/28th saw a heavy snowfall thanks to low pressure and arctic air. I went for a cracking walk on the 28th up Helvellyn. The last three days of the month were very cold sub freezing, but like 1995 conditions changed on new years eve - with further snowfall before milder air moved in the start the new year. I remember having a massive snowball fight in the early hours of New Years Day.

Its notable how both those spells ended suddenly as the new year started. Other less cold christmas spells in 1996 and 2001 managed to hold on for a fair bit longer into January esp 1997.

As for dec 95, the rest of the winter was preety cold, after a mild first half to Jan, late Jan 96 was cold and snowy leading into a notably snowy cold Feb - we recorded 18 inches of snow on the 5/6th Feb - not bettered since.

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I seem to recall in the memorable winter of 1978-79 at least two cold snowy spells one around mid December and another at the end of the month,snow and cold were both plentyful in this area and I suppose were a taster for what was to come in both January and in particular February.

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The cold spell of Dec 95 was mostly dry at my location but with plenty of harsh frosts and some freezing fog,i didnt get snow until early Jan. Edit i think ive got early jan 96 mixed up with early jan 97.

The end of Dec 2000 was a good spell. The proper cold did not arrive here until xmas day but we got a few inches of snow on the evening of the 28th,it felt very festive that xmas. Two months later we had another decent cold spell at the end of Feb and start of March with a good dumping of snow on the 27th of Feb which lasted on the ground by and large until about the 4th of March with some rather chilly nights.

Edited by sundog

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December 1995 ITV National forecast;

She hasn't changed a bit has she!?

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Most people would agree that winter properly gets going after Christmas (although brief snowfalls in the north are possible throughout the month). Now, other than the classic winters of 46/47 & 62/63 which saw prolonged cold spell(s) starting from Post Xmas onwards, there aren't many other examples of the first/only decent cold spell of the winter around about the start of what most people would describe as the start of the proper cold and snow [late December].

However I've found the late December cold spells of 1995 and 2000 which were decent cold spells and they probably had the best snowfalls of those of winters. I wasn't around during the cold and snow of late 95, but I've heard that it saw some decent snowfalls and in particular very cold temperatures with -20C being recorded in Scottish Cities. If anyone could post links about those record breaking temps, some charts and an explanation to why it was so cold would be great!

The December 2000 cold spell is one I remember well. I was over at family on Christmas Eve with heavy snow falling outside and woke up on Christmas Morning to a deep covering of snow. It stayed around for a while and towards the end there was some more snow. As the snow melted on the lower ground, we went up all the way to the nearby Campsie Fells where it was a total whiteout.

I certainly have some memories of one of those late December cold spells but how about you?

Wow that is quite some memory.

You would have only been 5 in 2000.

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I remember those of 1995 and 2000 pretty well, both spent at Cleadon in Tyne and Wear.

The 1995 instance represented my favourite "white Christmas" (narrowly beating 2010) as although the snow wasn't quite as deep, sunshine and heavy snow showers alternated during the day itself, caused by east-coast showers creeping a little way inland. There was already a 3-4cm snow cover from a decaying band of snow associated with a polar low on Christmas Eve. Boxing Day 1995 had fewer showers, and then after that the showers stayed out at sea, with freezing fog on the 29th. The total snow depth reached three inches. The frontal event on the 31st was a letdown with snow predicted by the BBC and a lot of freezing rain resulted.

The 2000 one was distinctly atmospheric, although there was no white Christmas, from either snow falling or lying- just a few hail and sleet showers on Christmas Eve. Snow showers drifted in off the North Sea early on Boxing Day and gave a thin covering. The polar low on the 27th/28th failed to bring any frontal snow to Cleadon, with the snow dying out over the Pennines, but as it cleared into the North Sea heavy snow showers developed, with thunder at 4:50am on the 29th. The snow depth reached approximately three inches in this case as well. The frontal breakdown of the 31st only gave a rain/sleet mix, so parallels with the frontal event of 31st December 1995 there.

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The breakdown of the late December 1995 was a real disappointment, it looked like a major snow event and Peter Cockcroft only gave a low probability for freezing rain and that is what it largelly turned out but we did get snow here.

Looked back at the taped forecasts I have from that time. Didn't have interenet access in those days and had to rely on any 5 day forecasts for any glimpse into future possibilities. Peter Cockcroft showed what was possibily going to happen about 5 days before the easterly of early December. He showed the arrows swinging into the east and I couldn't believe it the possibility of a decent wintry spell and so early in the season. Also on tape I have an interview of Piers Corbyn just before Christmas 1995 saying that the days between Christmas and New Year was going to be exceptionally cold. Bill Giles did the Christmas eve forecast, Ian MacCaskill did the Boxing Day forecast saying look how low these temperatures were for that time of day and he actually said we have to keep an eye on this little beggar for the Northern Isles with possibly more snow. Lol "beggar".

Great BBC forecasts from that time.

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December 1995 ITV National forecast;

That is one bugbear I had with Sian Lloyd she often said "lets confirm this" as she did there and then shows a graphic in which someone had put the weather symbols on. How can that be a confirmation?! A confirmation is showing the weather radar to show that showers are falling or actual observational reports. A symbol on a chart is not a confirmation, the weather radar or observation confirms the symbol not the other way around!

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the breakdown of dec 2005 was a disappointment as well for the south, I remember thurs 29th was ice day with frost and rime everywhere, and a very snowy breakdown from the SW was expected, everyone thinking 4+ inches, but all I got was 5 minutes of light snow around 10pm, then dry, woke up on Friday 30th to nothing

was a northern area thing only http://wetterzentrale.de/archive/ra/2005/Rrea00120051230.gif

Edited by snow? norfolk n chance

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Posted · Hidden by Polar Continental, December 27, 2011 - wrong thread, sorry
Hidden by Polar Continental, December 27, 2011 - wrong thread, sorry

Tuesday 27th December 2011:

Another mild night, dry too with clear spells. At observation, dry bright and mild.

Today's readings for the 24 hrs up to 09:00 GMT:

4 Oktas: Stratocumulus.

Visibility: about 10 miles.

Temperature: 7.4°C

Humidity: 94%

Dew point 6.5°C

Wind Direction: Force 2 SW

Barometer:1034mb rising slowly.

Maximum temperature to 18:00 GMT yesterday: 13.0°C

Minimum temperature overnight: 7.0°C

24-hour maximum = 13.0°C

24-hour minimum: 7.0°C

Minimum temperature on grass: 4.1°C

Rainfall total: 0.0 mm

Yesterday:

Extremely mild overnight, mostly cloudy with a little drizzle. Low 11.6c. At observation, some cloud breaks, dry, breezy and very mild. The rest of the day was dry with bright spells, top temperature 13.2c.

December: 2011 so far:

Mean temperature: 4.9c (+ 0.6c) of the local average)

Maximum temperature: 12.8 on the 8th.

Minimum temperature: -3.3c on the 10th

Grass Minimum: -6.4c on the 18th

Rainfall = 71.3mm

Wettest 24 hours = 10.9mm on the 23rd

Maximum wind gust: 45.6 mph W on the 8th.

2011 so far:

Maximum temperature: 29.1 on the 27th June.

Minimum temperature: -7.0c on the 31st Jan

Grass Minimum: -10.4c on the 31st Jan

Rainfall = 493.5 mm

Wettest 24 hours, 22.5mm on the 24th Aug

Maximum wind gust: 56.8mph, SSE 7th Feb

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Delving further into the past I recall spending Christmas in Aviemore - I believe it was 1977'we arrived on around the 23rd to be greeted by around 3 inches of snow and my 2 kids were over the moon. Next morning all of it had melted and there was great disappointment all round. The weather stayed mild until Christmas Eve when a weak cold front appeared to go through at at about 7 om there was a light frost on the cars.There was a big party in the Hotel and at exactly midnight some called out" its snowing and sure enough although none was predicted light wet snow was descending. This got heavier and the temperature dropped so that by the following morning there was about 6inches lying,there were no sledges left to hire so we got a snowboard each and had great fun down the slope at the front of the Aviemore centre. The snow continued off and on until the evening and was followed by a hard frost,the next day was cold and clear and lots more fun was to be had. W e had to return home on the 27 th and by the time we had travelled about 50 moles to the Sputh we saw that there had been no snow whatsoever.

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Mr Data another cracking archive piece of footage. Remember that spell very well. We saw about 4 inches on the 27th. I went up Helvellyn the next day with very poor kit and found it a real struggle in the deep powder fresh snow but the views were superb thanks to arctic clarity in the air. We saw ice days on the 28th, 29th,30th and 31st - I think mins got down to -10 degrees and maxima about -2 degrees on the 29th and 30th. The cold spell ended with a wimper on new years eve with a freezing rain/snow event. A slow thaw set in on new years day.

Winter 00/01 was quite a decent one by 90's and 00's standard, punctuted by some decent cold spells in late dec, mid jan, early feb and late feb/early march and average/only fairly mild spells inbetween, although the first half of december was very mild.

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My grandfather has allowed me to post excerpts of his weather diaries from the 90s. Starting with 1995:

Dec 01st: Cloudy, cold & dry

Dec 02nd: Milder with heavy rain

Dec 03rd: Mild with intermittent rain all day

Dec 04th: Cloudy and misty, progressively colder all day

Dec 05th: Cloudy and cold all day

Dec 06th: SNOW! (1cm) Flurries throughout the day

Dec 07th: Cold and cloudy with sleet and drizzle

Dec 08th: Sunny (finally) but bitterly cold wind

Dec 09th: Hard frost; sunny and cold

Dec 10th: Hard frost; foggy a.m. then sunny and cold

Dec 11th: Hard frost; cloudy and cold all day

Dec 12th: Cloudy, misty and cold all day

Dec 13th: Cloudy, misty and cold all day

Dec 14th: Cloudy and cold, occasional sunshine p.m.

Dec 15th: Frosty; sunny and cold all day

Dec 16th: Frosty: cloudy and cold all day

Dec 17th: Cloudy and cold all day

Dec 18th: Frosty; hazy sunshine, becoming cloudy later

Dec 19th: Cloudy and cold, light drizzle

Dec 20th: Cold with light to heavy rain by midday

Dec 21st: Cloudy and dry but milder

Dec 22nd: Mild with occasional showers, cloudy

Dec 23rd: Colder, intermittent rain and sleet

Dec 24th: Sunny, clear and cold all day

Dec 25th: Hard frost; sunny & cold all day

Dec 26th: Hard frost; sunny a.m. / snow flurries p.m.

Dec 27th: Hard frost; very cold with snow flurries

Dec 28th: Very light snow overnight; cloudy and very cold

Dec 29th: Hard frost; sunny but very cold

Dec 30th: Snow overnight (1-2cm). Freezing rain during day - Bristol pavements like ice rinks

Dec 31st: Slightly milder but ground still frozen

Looks like it was cold pretty much all month, but interestingly very little snow.

December 1996 was also a notable cold spell that lasted well into January with snow on the ground and sub-zero maxima for much of the first third of the month.

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Between 12 March 1996 and 12 March 2006 - quite uncanny... Dec 27th 2000 was the only snowfall to give over 3 inches in these parts. The 10 year period was very poor for decent falls of snow. Any cold spells were often dry affairs.

Thankfully since winter 08 we have seen much heavier falls of snow thanks to cold spells being also snowy affairs.

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By mid December 2000, I was quite frankly sick of the rain but thankfully a pattern change was under way and the pressure became more blocked. Excitement was increasing as we got near Christmas as there was a chance of something more traditional weather for the festive season

21st December 2000: I miss Michael Fish and these synoptic pattern animations, he seem to like showing these off. They really gave a clue what could transpire over 6 days, watching the Greenland block gaining more and more control

22nd December 2000: Helen Young shows the cold air pushing southwards

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Thanks for these forecasts. I did enjoy the christmas period 2000 weatherwise, after three very atlantic mild dominated christmas periods.

The type of synoptics which ensued are the type I like in winter, excellent for the north in general - can't beat an unstable arctic flow, much better than easterlies which I never trust. With a northerly you get the keen frosts, sparkling visibility and sunshine - though they are very difficult to sustain.

It wasnt a classic arctic ridge/greenland high set up, low heights from the SW quickly moved in - thanks to a negative west based NAO. You need an negatively east based NAO such as we saw during winter 09/10 and dec 10 to maintain a sustained northerly outbreak. Still it was a major change from the synoptics of the first half of December. Winter 00/01 was quite a wintry one overall in the north, with a cold mid Jan period, and a cold and at times snowy February, with a very cold start to March.

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Dec 27th into 28th was fantastic, around 10cms snow in my location, which is a lot, the snow hung around until a thaw on new years eve, I remember new years day 2001 mild and damp

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Christmas Eve 2000

Christmas Day 2000: we had snow showers from time to time

Christmas Day 2000: list of places that reported snow

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