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December 1997 Easterly

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That easterly was a huge disappointment in the Tyne and Wear area- I recalled that the forecasts had suggested rather colder and snowier weather in NE England than actually resulted, and those forecasts confirm my recollections (again many thanks for uploading these). The 15th December was overcast with extensive stratocumulus and a few towering cumulus which produced light rain showers, then the 16th was dull and dry all day with extensive stratocumulus, and on the 17th the system moving up from the south brought rain, with a bit of sleet mixed in for a time. Temperatures hovered around the 5C mark even in inland parts of the region, except late on the 17th when it dropped to around 2C in association with the frontal system.

However stats from Weather Log suggest that it was a different story in southern England where snow fell and accumulated quite widely on the 16th/17th, with even St Mawgan (near the Cornish coast) reporting a morning with lying snow. A look through the Wetterzentrale charts suggests that the really cold Russian air never made it across to the British Isles (just a little finger of -5 to -10C 850hPa air getting over), hence the limited convection over the North Sea, and that the north-south split was probably caused by the shorter sea track of the airmass across the south. Had the Scandinavian High not sunk south so quickly, it could have ended up as a much snowier spell further north.

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Wed 17th Dec 97, very snowy day frontal snow, this sort of setup missing from the winters of today, even heavy transient low level snow

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I was living in Newcastle at the time and remember how dissapointing the easterly turned out to be - a major damp squib with no snow just a raw wind. Winter 97/98 was exceptionally poor on the snow front, I think we managed 2-3 mornings of snow cover at best on the 18/19 Jan and on the last day of February. Mind this winter we have fared no better so far.. but we've a good 5 weeks to go yet..

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That front gave a lot of snow in London, more than was forecast. About 8cms I think.

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We got 5cm of snow during the afternoon and early evening of Dec 17th 1997. At 1800 the temperature was -1.2c with light snow falling but milder air moved in overnight and by 0500 the next morning the temp' was 2.9c, and by 0900 there was less than 50% snow cover.

The winter of 1997/98 was very poor for snowfall with just 2 mornings with lying snow at 0900 and an accumulated depth of 11.5cm. Only 2007/08 was worse with 3 mornings with lying snow and a pitfully small accumulated depth of 4.9cm.

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It was a damp squib here and similar to Ian's observations. There was cloudy weather on the 15th with occasional showers, then dull and overcast but dry on the 16th before the front moved in on the 17th and gave mostly just rain with a bit of sleet mixed in. The maximum temperatures were much higher than the BBC forecast predicted aswell, with 6.7C on the 15th, 5.7C on the 16th and 5.0C on the 17th. It was slap bang in the middle of a period from the 3rd Dec - 23rd Jan that was completely frostless and the sleet on the 17th was the last time any sleet/snow fell in that winter until 19th January.

It seemed pretty bad at the time, but this winter is putting that to shame!

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