Jump to content
Holidays
Local
Radar
Pollen
Sign in to follow this  
Rollo

Blizzard Of February 1979 In The North-east Of England.

Recommended Posts

As we are about begin our descent into what most of us hope will be amemorable winter I thought it would be a good

idea to cast my mind back to a major event

in my area.

As we all remember the winter was noteable across most of the Uk but standout to me was Friday February 14th,on the

previous day snow had fallen virtually all day on a Northerly wind but surpris

ingly accumulations were small and by late evening the majority had melted in central Newcastle-upon - Tyne and the wind had dropped completely.

Getting up for work I was greeted

by a mackeral type sky with next to no wind but with small patches of snow still remaining,as I gazed out of my window which faces East I became aware of a definite drift from the east and within 15 minutes the wind had increased to a fresh Easterly,the cloud had lowered and fine snow was blowing around.Checking the 9 am temperature it was 0c,as I drove to town the showers which were beginning to merge were getting heavier and snow was forming smallish drifts enen towards the centre of town on a strong to gale wind.

I later determined that the 10am temperature met reading was -5c in town,the showers grew into longer periods of very snow and by mid-day I decided to make my way back home via a small village to collect the

family. by the time i had arrived driving was becoming very difficult indeed and as we proceeded towards the airprt the snow which was blowing off the runway teporarily closed the road,however we succeeded in getting through and were the last or one of the last prior to us being cut off from both North and South.

The road remained closed for many hours and none of us in the village to my knowledge got into town that day,by the evening I heard the road was open and drove past the airport,the road normally straight had a huge chicane in it with

a wall of snow higher than a double decker bus - I later found out that there was a double decker bus buried there!!

We had a very memorable snowstorm mid-March the same year but more about that another time.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If my memory serves me right, the mid February blizzard was probably the worst we had in this region during the severe 1979 winter.

All transpennine roads including the M62 were closed with two of our local A roads shut by 15 foot drifts for over a week.The snow reached above the hight of our downstarirs windows and did not finally disappear until late March.

As a 17 year old they did seem good times even though my 10 minute walk to work was taking 30 minutes and the constant cold went straight through you.

From an IMBY perspective i've seen nothing like it since although storms in 82 and 91 did try and make an attempt.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

just looked that chart up on meteociel archives (feb 14th) looks legendary, why cant charts like that exist in my day

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Winter 78/79 brought a number of very heavy snowfalls and much disruption. Mid March brought 2 feet of snow to many central and eastern parts. We haven't seen such a disturbed winter since. Although winters 81/82, 84/85, 90/91, 95/96, 09/10 and 10/11 brought a number of disruptive snow events, they didn't see as many as in winter 78/79 which really was a prolonged winter lasting well into March and made all the more bleak by strike action etc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

just looked that chart up on meteociel archives (feb 14th) looks legendary, why cant charts like that exist in my day

similar charts do and possibly will exist this coming winter.

the problem is that they don't seem to verify

just to many factors need to fall into place to make something which the computer says may happen actually do so.

that said, maybe this is our time again.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As we are about begin our descent into what most of us hope will be amemorable winter I thought it would be a good

idea to cast my mind back to a major event

in my area.

As we all remember the winter was noteable across most of the Uk but standout to me was Friday February 14th,on the

previous day snow had fallen virtually all day on a Northerly wind but surpris

ingly accumulations were small and by late evening the majority had melted in central Newcastle-upon - Tyne and the wind had dropped completely.

Getting up for work I was greeted

by a mackeral type sky with next to no wind but with small patches of snow still remaining,as I gazed out of my window which faces East I became aware of a definite drift from the east and within 15 minutes the wind had increased to a fresh Easterly,the cloud had lowered and fine snow was blowing around.Checking the 9 am temperature it was 0c,as I drove to town the showers which were beginning to merge were getting heavier and snow was forming smallish drifts enen towards the centre of town on a strong to gale wind.

I later determined that the 10am temperature met reading was -5c in town,the showers grew into longer periods of very snow and by mid-day I decided to make my way back home via a small village to collect the

family. by the time i had arrived driving was becoming very difficult indeed and as we proceeded towards the airprt the snow which was blowing off the runway teporarily closed the road,however we succeeded in getting through and were the last or one of the last prior to us being cut off from both North and South.

The road remained closed for many hours and none of us in the village to my knowledge got into town that day,by the evening I heard the road was open and drove past the airport,the road normally straight had a huge chicane in it with

a wall of snow higher than a double decker bus - I later found out that there was a double decker bus buried there!!

We had a very memorable snowstorm mid-March the same year but more about that another time.

Remember walking across the Tyne Bridge into Gateshead (buses stopped running as snow had made roads lethal) in the teeth of that Easterly. Temp was way below zero and there was a gale blowing with horizontal snow pellets. Very, very painful. Thought I had hypothermia when I got back to my digs down next to Saltwell Park. Happy days.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The blizzard of mid February 1979 was the most severe I've experienced and rivalled those of February and March 1947 according to my parents, who experienced both.

I remember coming downstairs into the kitchen to get ready for work only to find a drift of snow stretching from the rather ill fitting kitchen door in an arc halfway across the kitchen floor. Having shovelled it into a bucket, and disposed of it in the sink, I opened the kitchen door to be confronted with a wall of snow from top to bottom.

I decided to make an attempt to get to work, 16 miles away, and walked a couple of miles to a point where I normally got a lift. We made it for about 5 miles along the valley road in constant blowing snow before admitting defeat when confronted with drifts 5-6 feet deep with a couple of large lorries partially buried in them.

The blizzard continued all that day and the following night before easing. By that time even the low level roads were filled up to 7 feet deep in places and in a nearby village with narrow roads running between high banks there were drifts up to about 18 feet deep. At this place a Hi-Mac was sent out to dig out the road but became stuck itself when the arm holding the bucket, fully extended, could not reach the bottom of the snow to lift the machine out of the drift it had become stuck in; it remained there for over a week until other machines managed to dig it out.

The fine and powdery nature of the snow allowed it to penetrate the finest cracks in doors and windows and a good deal of tissue paper was employed in blocking gaps and key holes.

Unlike February/March 1947 this was the only major blizzard of the month, I can hardly imagine a month with several like it.

Edited by Terminal Moraine
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Quite fascinating reading the accounts of that winter, especially Rollo and TM

I cannot remember if I was in the Reading area attending yet another forecasting course or at my home base of Manchester Airport. Nothing really stands out so I was probably that winter at Manchester which would not get anything like the effects felt over and east of the Peak and Pennines.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The blizzard of mid February 1979 was the most severe I've experienced and rivalled those of February and March 1947 according to my parents, who experienced both.

I remember coming downstairs into the kitchen to get ready for work only to find a drift of snow stretching from the rather ill fitting kitchen door in an arc halfway across the kitchen floor. Having shovelled it into a bucket, and disposed of it in the sink, I opened the kitchen door to be confronted with a wall of snow from top to bottom.

I decided to make an attempt to get to work, 16 miles away, and walked a couple of miles to a point where I normally got a lift. We made it for about 5 miles along the valley road in constant blowing snow before admitting defeat when confronted with drifts 5-6 feet deep with a couple of large lorries partially buried in them.

The blizzard continued all that day and the following night before easing. By that time even the low level roads were filled up to 7 feet deep in places and in a nearby village with narrow roads running between high banks there were drifts up to about 18 feet deep. At this place a Hi-Mac was sent out to dig out the road but became stuck itself when the arm holding the bucket, fully extended, could not reach the bottom of the snow to lift the machine out of the drift it had become stuck in; it remained there for over a week until other machines managed to dig it out.

The fine and powdery nature of the snow allowed it to penetrate the finest cracks in doors and windows and a good deal of tissue paper was employed in blocking gaps and key holes.

Unlike February/March 1947 this was the only major blizzard of the month, I can hardly imagine a month with several like it.

Just been reading your accounts of the blizzards of 1978/79 on Col. Its one major element that's been missing from recent winters is a widespread snow associated with strong winds. Your notes of the 60mph winds with heavy snow and sub zero temps evoque vivid images.

Pics from Weardale http://www.theweatheroutlook.com/twoother/twocontent.aspx?type=bg&id=1626

1947 was expectional. Nearby station of Newbiggin in Teesdale report for Febuary max temp of 0C for the month with 10.45" of rainfall. Rainfall totals for first 3 months was 22", perhaps 15"+ of that will have fallen as snow.

Edited by Teesdale

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From what I've read Jan & Feb 1941 and also Jan & Feb 1942 were pretty severe too, just shows that these things happen more often than we might realise. In February 1941 Durham was reported to have 105cm of level snow, and Newcastle 70cm. Bad enough at the best of times but during the war it must have been horrific.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From what I've read Jan & Feb 1941 and also Jan & Feb 1942 were pretty severe too, just shows that these things happen more often than we might realise. In February 1941 Durham was reported to have 105cm of level snow, and Newcastle 70cm. Bad enough at the best of times but during the war it must have been horrific.

122cm was reported at Consett. Impressive single event, most of the snow fell in about 36hrs.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As we are about begin our descent into what most of us hope will be amemorable winter I thought it would be a good

idea to cast my mind back to a major event

in my area.

As we all remember the winter was noteable across most of the Uk but standout to me was Friday February 14th,on the

previous day snow had fallen virtually all day on a Northerly wind but surpris

ingly accumulations were small and by late evening the majority had melted in central Newcastle-upon - Tyne and the wind had dropped completely.

Getting up for work I was greeted

by a mackeral type sky with next to no wind but with small patches of snow still remaining,as I gazed out of my window which faces East I became aware of a definite drift from the east and within 15 minutes the wind had increased to a fresh Easterly,the cloud had lowered and fine snow was blowing around.Checking the 9 am temperature it was 0c,as I drove to town the showers which were beginning to merge were getting heavier and snow was forming smallish drifts enen towards the centre of town on a strong to gale wind.

I later determined that the 10am temperature met reading was -5c in town,the showers grew into longer periods of very snow and by mid-day I decided to make my way back home via a small village to collect the

family. by the time i had arrived driving was becoming very difficult indeed and as we proceeded towards the airprt the snow which was blowing off the runway teporarily closed the road,however we succeeded in getting through and were the last or one of the last prior to us being cut off from both North and South.

The road remained closed for many hours and none of us in the village to my knowledge got into town that day,by the evening I heard the road was open and drove past the airport,the road normally straight had a huge chicane in it with

a wall of snow higher than a double decker bus - I later found out that there was a double decker bus buried there!!

We had a very memorable snowstorm mid-March the same year but more about that another time.

Hi Rollo.

Just noticed this thread and wondered if you have the date[day] right. I remember the mid Feb blizzard very well as I got caught up travelling in it. I boarded a sleeper train in Pitlochry on Wednesday the 14th in the evening to travel to London for a job interview. Up there it was very cold with just a few snow showers around. The train travelled around 5 miles before the diesel froze leaving us stranded without heat. Two substitute engines later with the second coming down from Inverness left us several hours late. As we travelled South we hit the blizzard which was notable on the train for the very fine dry snow blowing in through tiny gaps in the windows and doors and actually lying on the floor. I arrived in London 5 and a half hours late but still in time for the interview at 1.30pm. While walking down Tottenham Court Road in lying snow I remember being amused by the number of people I saw coming out of offices for their lunch and slipping and falling all over the place. [At home snow had been lying since late December]. I arrived at the office for the interview only be told that the Personnel Manager had failed to make it into work that day from Hertfordshire. Luckily I met the MD instead and after a good chat about the weather and my travels I was offered the job anyway.

My overnighter home was even more delayed due to the blizzard and frozen points and the last straw was arriving in Perth 10 hours late only to be told the train was terminating there because of the weather and that we would have to wait for a later Glasgow Inverness train. British rail kindly offered us compensation in the form of a cold pie and lukewarm coffee which almost caused a riot. My brother fortunately was able to drive down and pick me up so I did make it home despite rather poor road conditions. In the two days they had missed the blizzard up there but did have very low temps with snow showers coming in on the Easterly wind. All in all a rather memorable trip.

Edited by Norrance

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Norrance,you are quite right, the February blizzard commenced here on the Wednesday,i got the dates somewhat confused-it was the March 79' storm that began on a Friday in mid month. thanks for putting my mistake right.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Norrance,you are quite right, the February blizzard commenced here on the Wednesday,i got the dates somewhat confused-it was the March 79' storm that began on a Friday in mid month. thanks for putting my mistake right.

No probs.

I believe that the March snowstorm was an absolute belter in your part of the country.

regards

Nor.

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's the archived charts from Wetterzentrale.

What we'd give to see charts like these again!

post-5439-0-05861700-1353106528_thumb.gi

post-5439-0-96555200-1353106592_thumb.gi

Edited by Sawel
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just been reading your accounts of the blizzards of 1978/79 on Col. Its one major element that's been missing from recent winters is a widespread snow associated with strong winds. Your notes of the 60mph winds with heavy snow and sub zero temps evoque vivid images.

Pics from Weardale http://www.theweathe...type=bg&id=1626

1947 was expectional. Nearby station of Newbiggin in Teesdale report for Febuary max temp of 0C for the month with 10.45" of rainfall. Rainfall totals for first 3 months was 22", perhaps 15"+ of that will have fallen as snow.

Yes, although most winters here produce at least one event with blowing snow and drifting, true blizzards have become a rarity.

Without checking my records I'm fairly sure the last one here was in December 1990.

For the uninitiated I'm not talking of heavy falling snow and a fresh breeze, or a heavy snow shower accompanied by a strong, gusty wind. A real blizzard is heavy falling snow driven by a wind averaging gale force ( 39 mph ) with the temperature below 0c.

To be out in one it's as if the whole world is full of snow, it's difficult to walk and difficult to breathe.

The blizzard of late April 1981 was exceptional for the lateness of season but really only affected areas above about 300m as, below that level, the temperature was often a little above freezing and the snow became damp and sticky.

Lowland blizzards are about as common as hen's teeth.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The blizzard of mid February 1979 was the most severe I've experienced and rivalled those of February and March 1947 according to my parents, who experienced both.

I remember coming downstairs into the kitchen to get ready for work only to find a drift of snow stretching from the rather ill fitting kitchen door in an arc halfway across the kitchen floor. Having shovelled it into a bucket, and disposed of it in the sink, I opened the kitchen door to be confronted with a wall of snow from top to bottom.

I decided to make an attempt to get to work, 16 miles away, and walked a couple of miles to a point where I normally got a lift. We made it for about 5 miles along the valley road in constant blowing snow before admitting defeat when confronted with drifts 5-6 feet deep with a couple of large lorries partially buried in them.

The blizzard continued all that day and the following night before easing. By that time even the low level roads were filled up to 7 feet deep in places and in a nearby village with narrow roads running between high banks there were drifts up to about 18 feet deep. At this place a Hi-Mac was sent out to dig out the road but became stuck itself when the arm holding the bucket, fully extended, could not reach the bottom of the snow to lift the machine out of the drift it had become stuck in; it remained there for over a week until other machines managed to dig it out.

The fine and powdery nature of the snow allowed it to penetrate the finest cracks in doors and windows and a good deal of tissue paper was employed in blocking gaps and key holes.

Unlike February/March 1947 this was the only major blizzard of the month, I can hardly imagine a month with several like it.

You would of had alot more snow than us but we did have two days off school, i just wished i had took photos of the event but unfortunately didnt bother. Shame we didnt have the videos on mobile phones then it would have been great to look back at.

Regards

Les

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I remember the 79 winter very well, it was my last year at School and we was having our mock exams in February so while rest of school was told not to attend, we had to attend and with no public transport and had to trudge 2 miles through deep Snow on the Thursday and Friday.

Some Snowdrifts were waist high. Posted Image

The late March Blizzard gave the deepest Snow around here in South Yorkshire, over a foot in most places and more than this up on moors to west,

Where I lived back then I could see hills to West of Sheffield and I can remember Snow laying on ground in deep drifts from first winter Snow event on New Years Eve right up into May.

Edited by Bradowl

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, I remember this winter pretty well. I drove up from North Wales to visit my parents who were living in Aberdeen at the time on December 23rd 1978. The only snow I spotted was a light dusting on the tops in the Lake District but it was very cold with thick ice where the puddles had frozen solid. There was no snow where my Dad lived about 10 miles inland from Aberdeen but on Christmas day we drove into Tomintoul which had a good foot of snow on the ground. Coming home on the morning of the 27th we hit the first few flakes before we got to Dundee and from there on it was a nightmare with drifting snow on higher ground and wet snow elsewhere until we reached around Preston where the snow turned into rain. 20 hours it took us to get home Posted Image . My parents friends who went up on the 28th never got past Carlisle. In fact they got stuck there for a couple of days before they were able to return south.

By the 29th the snow had moved down into North Wales, tons of the stuff and temperatures plummeted. During the next few weeks we had several more periods of snow and in March 1979 one of the heaviest falls I've ever seen. It had mostly thawed when we got hit with another couple of inches in April. One of the snowiest and coldest winters I can remember around here only surpassed by 62/63 and possibly 81/82.

Pete

Edited by PeteB

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

wish i'd been around to see 47 and 63 but did either of these have monster blizzards in december and the third week of march .also snow remained on cross fell till 18th august.respect

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I remember Thursday February 13th 1979 as if it wre yesterday. We live on a hill top (500+ft) and the wind was screaming up our yard, the air was thick with driving snow, and it was drifting fast. Goodness only knows what todays folk would make of it!! The adults of that generation had grown up on the Winters of 1939/40, 40/41, 41/42,44/45, 1947, and 1963 not to mention several others in the 1960`s which were pretty bad. As a result they were used to proper winter weather, not the scenes of chaos we get when it comes an inch of slush in London today. After the storm in Feb 79 the road out to town was blocked by deep snow for 11 days. The council finally broke through with a huge buldozer with a 6ft x 15ft blade enormous thing it was, you could never have moved it with todays standard salt wagon plough.

 

My Dad lived through all the winters I`ve mentioned and he said that although 63 and especially 47 were much worse winters, that particular Thursday in 79 was the worst single day he could remember.

 

I too remember clearly the Friday in March that year when another heavy fall of snow came, these two followed a heavy fall on Sat Dec 30th 1978. I learnt a harsh lesson about the limited capabilities of a Land Rover when the going gets really tough. Where we live if it starts  blowing properly you can be blocked in to anything less than a tractor in an hour.

 

The final lot of snow came at the end of April that year after a milder spell resulting in the deaths of many hundreds of young lambs that were just not equiped to cope with such storms.

 

Many years later although we have had cold snaps occasionally we have never had any really bad winter weather on a sustained scale, in reality nobody under about 40/45 can really claim to remember a hard winter, cold winter maybe wet certainly but not on the scale of 1979 let alone those that went before. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I remember Thursday February 13th 1979 as if it wre yesterday. We live on a hill top (500+ft) and the wind was screaming up our yard, the air was thick with driving snow, and it was drifting fast. Goodness only knows what todays folk would make of it!! The adults of that generation had grown up on the Winters of 1939/40, 40/41, 41/42,44/45, 1947, and 1963 not to mention several others in the 1960`s which were pretty bad. As a result they were used to proper winter weather, not the scenes of chaos we get when it comes an inch of slush in London today. After the storm in Feb 79 the road out to town was blocked by deep snow for 11 days. The council finally broke through with a huge buldozer with a 6ft x 15ft blade enormous thing it was, you could never have moved it with todays standard salt wagon plough.

 

My Dad lived through all the winters I`ve mentioned and he said that although 63 and especially 47 were much worse winters, that particular Thursday in 79 was the worst single day he could remember.

 

I too remember clearly the Friday in March that year when another heavy fall of snow came, these two followed a heavy fall on Sat Dec 30th 1978. I learnt a harsh lesson about the limited capabilities of a Land Rover when the going gets really tough. Where we live if it starts  blowing properly you can be blocked in to anything less than a tractor in an hour.

 

The final lot of snow came at the end of April that year after a milder spell resulting in the deaths of many hundreds of young lambs that were just not equiped to cope with such storms.

 

Many years later although we have had cold snaps occasionally we have never had any really bad winter weather on a sustained scale, in reality nobody under about 40/45 can really claim to remember a hard winter, cold winter maybe wet certainly but not on the scale of 1979 let alone those that went before. 

You did not say where you live?I know exactly what you mean and remember each of those blizzards clearly as I was 11 at the time living at 340metres[1115 ft] ,We too were snowed in for a full 2 weeks and only cleared by a new snowblower that had arrived from Sweden.Yes nothing since can rival '79 for snow although the nearest would be the 6 weeks from 23rd jan 86 to 3rd march,not so much for snow but for constant blowing snow and biting east winds for the whole of that period!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Re Feb 79 blizzard, I could well have made a mistake over the precise date (ie 15th not 13th) but it was definitely a Thurs, so I guess it could have been Thurs 15th. The snow and wind were the big event!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This storm started on Friday March 16th 1979 and where I live in Durham we got sent home from school I was aged 10 we had to walk as the roads were already too bad. By 9pm the winds had got up to gale force and all roads became impassible it is the worst snowfall that I can remember although the winds abaited it contnued to snow until Sunday afternoon and I can also remember it was the first time I ever saw thundersnow. We had a week off school until the authorities could clear the roads. They piled the snow on the local playing field and can remember there was still some snow there late June.

Pic098.jpg

Pic106.jpg

Pic103.jpg

Pic102.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×