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Rollo

August 1993 "Weather Magazine with repoprts from the winter 0f 1947

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I have just stumbled on an old weather magazine and in the letters were two reports which I shall print out of interest.It is written by an E Stephenson of Berkshire.

"I happened to be serving at RAF Binbrook during the period which this excellent log covered. It was indeed exceptionally cold and snowy in Lincolnshire at that time,especially as the rigours of the local climate were reinforced by shortages of food and fuel.

The Weather Log quite correctly records that....parts of Lincolnshire received a foot or more of level snowbut the reality was very different. The snow was in fact,granular and, whipped along by keen easterly winds, it remained constantly mobile.Week after week of drifting snow produced quite astonishing results, Two-storey buildings disappeared beneath mounds of snow and it actually became difficult to navigate from one place to another on the station.

By the end of January the use of motor transport of any kind, both civilian and service, became impossible. Binbrook eventually became totally isolated. The first rescue vehicle to reach the station in mid-March was an army tank!!

When eventually it became possible to begin to break through nearby snow-blocked roads, a snow-plough ploughed into a single-decker bus between Binbrook and Grimsby. This bus had earlier been abandoned and the sheer weight of drifting snow had overturned it. As may be imagined, the local wildlife encountered immense difficulties. Some of us actually witnessed a gaggle of wild geese colide with the snow-banked end of a hanger,presumably because of "whiteout". There was great confusion among them and several suffered considerable injuries.

When most of the snow-drifts had eventually cleared away we were somewhat astonished to note the height at which animals such as rabbits,fox and deer had gnawed the bark from trees- 15 feet above ground level was common.

Exceptionally cold and snowy it certainly was and also a remarkably interesting experience of polar-type weather right on out doorsteps.

The second letter is by P.C.Clarke of Surrey and was entitled "Winter 1947 began at third attempt".

"I am enjoying reading the Historical Weather Logs and the feature of February 1947 was particularly interesting. I was 13 years old at the time and living in Middlesex. I remember the unrelenting grey skies, the frequent snowfalls and the occasional partial thaws which removed some of the snow cover for a day or so before the strong east wind returned and more snow arrived. There was much less traffic on the road in those austere years after the War and my friends and I cycled the three or four miles to school on most days except when the snow was very deep. I recall vividly how, on many days,the snow was frozen into deep ruts on the roads how difficult it was to negotiate these on the cycle. It seemed very entertaining at the time.

Those readers who are too young to remember that famous winter may like to know that it started with a preliminary cold spell with east winds which lasted for most of the third week of December;the south-east had a day-long snowfall as a depression moved south-westwards from Denmark. The cold weather ended just before Christmas but there was another short wintry spell with east winds during the first week of January. This bout of cold failed to last and it became very mild with temperatures approaching 13C on the 16th but the severe weather began on the 23rd and the snowfalls started on the 25th.

For those who want to know more about the events of the winter of 1946/47 I recommend them to read WEATHER September 1947 which contains articles by Gordon Manley on February1947'splace in meteorologocal history and by E L. Hawke on the snowfalls.

At a meeting of the Society on 17th February 1947 a discussion on the severe weather preceded the main paper of the evening on orographic rainfall. This discussion was reported in the March 1947 issue of Weather."

Edited by Rollo
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Looking back at the 1946-47 winter, there wasn't really any hint of what was to come in December 1946, with an unremarkable, short cold spell, which we've seen quite frequently in recent years in the December. Another short cold spell in early January, with temps up in double figures by mid month, could not have been further from what was to come. On 16th January, a high sat over the Alps, with Low pressure over Iceland. The UK was therefore in a very mild airstream.

By the 20th, the high sat just to the east of the UK, and temperatures had dropped due to it pulling in a flow from continental Europe. This then moved NE to become a Scandinavian high, allowing Easterly winds to penetrate West into the UK. By early February, an attack from the Atlantic could only send low pressure up the Channel, leaving us on the North side of the depression. Deluges of snow resulted. This re-loaded several times through February and into mid March, before milder weather came in from the West.

One of the most notorious winters in our history didn't even start until the end of January. That leaves hope for those bemoaning the current wet dross we're putting up with. On 16th January 1947, the temps were in the teens, with a mild SW flow. A week later, we were in the freezer. Take heart, cold lovers. :-)

Edited by Ferryhill Weather

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Ah yes FW but can history repeat itself-there are an awful lot of posters on thia site that are hoping something similar occurs again,but can you imagine the chaos it would cause.

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History can always repeat itself, although no two patterns are exactly alike, even though synoptically they may appear so. Judging by the effect 1-2 cm had on our travel infrastructure earlier this winter (airport and schools closed, roads clogged with broken down and abandoned cars), a deluge like 1947 would paralyse the UK for quite some time.

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