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Skullzrulerz

What If? It was the coldest winter in history?

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During the winter of 2010, people adapted quite readily here in Inverness. Although initially many of the older folk complained that the youth weren't playing their part in dealing with the snow when compared with the younger people of generations past, this soon changed. A lot of people my age shoveled snow, cleared pathways and salted the ground for elderly people nearby. We've got an excellent gritting service here (to give you an idea, people complain when cul-de-sacs aren't cleared!) but the huge volume of snow throughout the city meant that people had to do their bit. It was actually really quite good for community spirit in my opinion, we've lost a bit of that given the recent rapid growth of our city from a small Highland town, so it was nice to know that some of that spirit is still very much there.

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The Isle of Arran was still picking up the pieces in May when I visited, just 8 weeks after the worst snowdrifts ever experienced in their lifetimes caused utility wires to snag, entire crops and cattle near decimated, and the resulting aftermath has led to a flurry of homes being put up for sale (with a considerable price reduction) as a result of the shock this must have had on some living there.

 

Even here in the Pennines things were close to breaking point, although we seemed to have escaped the worst of it in terms of financial costing. Assuming 2013/2014 is going to be as bad as predicted then the European inflow of food and amenities will be driving many farmers and independent sales-folk out of business.

Edited by SNOW_JOKE

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If it was the coldest winter, expect stories from the so called experts of weather forecasting and extreme events, with a headline in the papers, saying we told you first! Though the chances of Madden's mad winter forecast are still rather low.. Posted Image

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How is the UK of 64 million people top sixth country in the world not ready? Some people must think we live in the Sahara and never see snow.

 

The country, all parts of it, is a vastly different place to 1947 or 1962-63. The infrastructure has totally changed. A huge reliance on transport for everything we need and use. The power industry is just one that would be pushed to the absolute limit if a winter like either of those two occurred. On an 'enjoyment' level I would be amazed if after 20 consecutive maybe even only 10 consecutive ice days with no sun and snow blowing about everyone said they would like some milder weather at least for a time, no matter what their age.

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Bring it on - I've got 260kgs of coal, 5 loads of wood, 2 freezers, my own chickens, a shotgun, a rifle and a Land Rover.

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All three months could be frozen solid with copious amounts of snow and I wouldn't complain one bit, hardcore bring it on! :-)

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I've got a storage heater, a mini fridge freezer, potato gun, 2 cockatiels and a ford KA....

 

 

 

....no thanks.

You're doomed !!

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You're doomed !!

I'm inviting uncle bartlett over for christmas.

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This scenario is mooted every winter and on just about every forum that discusses weather.

 

Most of us, who haven't experienced it,would like too

And most who have,would rather not.

 

 

I think that tells us something.

Saying that,at some point we are likely to experience another significant. prolonged winter, and as we can do bugger all to stop it, we shall just have to cope as best we can.

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Lots of conflicting opinion on here about this.

 

JH is right when he says the infrastructure has completely changed.  I can remember 1963 in South Wales where the snowdrifts were higher than telephone boxes (for those that remember telephone boxes) but very few people had central heating and a good supply of coal kept the living room warm.  Rest of the house was (bloody) cold, single glazed windows, iced every morning on the inside.  Now we have central heating, but the pump and the boiler need electricity, if that goes, the house goes cold.....

 

In the meantime you can see how well the national grid is performing here

 

http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/

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Lots of conflicting opinion on here about this.

 

JH is right when he says the infrastructure has completely changed.  I can remember 1963 in South Wales where the snowdrifts were higher than telephone boxes (for those that remember telephone boxes) but very few people had central heating and a good supply of coal kept the living room warm.  Rest of the house was (bloody) cold, single glazed windows, iced every morning on the inside.  Now we have central heating, but the pump and the boiler need electricity, if that goes, the house goes cold.....

 

In the meantime you can see how well the national grid is performing here

 

http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/

 

the link is a bit baffling but maybe yourself or someone is able to explain objectively what this shows and how it may vary as cold sets in?

 

I know some of you think I'm an old fa-t, but I do genuinely doubt that the UK as a whole could cope with the longevity and deep cold of 1962-63. I will drop in once more my data for where I worked at the time-RCAF Lanagar, in the Vale of Belvoir. Note how many ice days, note the mean temperature from about 22 Decemebr until the end of February. There has never been anything approaching that since that winter-for LONGEVITY and cold. I know some winter have had short very intense cold and snow but NOT that length. I do know as I have lived through all the winters from about 1945!!

 

sorry I've buggered up where that should go

 

 

the Langar data

 

Data for RCAF Langar for the 1962-1963 winters, with a comparison with 1947

(Temperatures are all in deg C)

Langar is about 10 miles ese of Nottingham in a slight ‘bowl’ with minor hills all around it. The diary as such starts on December 26th 1962 and finishes at the end of February 1963.

 

General notes

The ground was snow covered continuously (Met Office definition for =/>half cover) for 44 days from 26.12.62 until 8.2.63

(At my parent’s house near Chesterfield, Derbyshire that was extended until 27th February,

A total of  63 days).

The ground at Langar was continuously frozen from 22nd December 1962 until 4th March 1963, a total of 63 days.

There was an air frost on every night, apart from 4, between 22nd December 1962 and 4th March 1963. (The only nights without frost were; 5.6.28 and 29th January)

There were 32 consecutive nights with frost from 1st February 1963 to 4th March 1963.

And there was a continuous frost(air temperature constantly below 0C) from 1500Z on 18th January 1963 until 0900Z on 26th January 1963(186 hours); put another way, almost a WHOLE week!!

There was 3.73 inches of rain (and melted snow) from 1 October 1962 to 28 February 1963

 This = 38% of the average.

 

Monthly figures for the start of the cold spell on 22nd December 1962

 

Date min max   mean

22 -4.4 2.2   -1.1

23 -6.1 0.6   -2.8

24 -9.3 0.0   -4.7

25 -11.8 -3.9 -7.9

26 -11.1 2.2   -4.5

27 -1.4 1.1   -0.2

28 -7.7 -2.2 -5.0

29 -5.1 -1.7 -3.4

30 -1.7 0.0   -0.9

31 -0.6 0.6   0.0  

 

Mean temp for 10 days = -3.0C

 

Values for January 1963

Date min max   mean

1   -0.1 0.7   0.3

2   -1.3 -0.6 -1.0

3   -0.7 0.5   -0.1

4   -0.1 1.0   0.5

5   0.6   1.1   0.9

6   1.1   1.8   1.5

7   -3.5 1.3   -1.1

8   -5.7 0.7   -2.5

9   -8.0 1.3   -3.4

10 -6.6 1.5   -2.6

11 -10.4 -5.0 -7.7

12 -5.4 -3.3 -4.4

13 -8.3 0.0   -4.2

14 -1.4 2.8   0.7

15 -7.7 2.3   -2.7

16 -2.7 0.0   -1.4

17 -9.2 -2.1 -5.7

18 -13.8 0.9   -6.5

19 -5.9 -0.3 -3.1

20 -3.3 -0.8 -2.1

21 -4.1 -1.4 -2.8

22 -13.6 -3.4 -8.5

23 -15.4 -3.3 -9.4

24 -12.2 -5.6 -8.9

25 -8.6 -0.6 -4.6

26 -6.2 5.3   -0.5

27 -3.9 2.3   -0.8

28 0.5   2.4   1.5

29 1.4   2.9   2.2

30 0.1   1.3   0.7

31 -1.7 2.5   0.4

 

Mean temp for month = -2.4C

 

Values for February

Date min max   mean

1   -3.5 -0.7 -2.1

2   -9.8 -3.5 -6.7

3   -6.7 -4.1 -5.4

4   -10.2 1.6   -4.3

5   -8.4 0.2   -4.1

6   -3.7 -0.7 -2.2

7   -1.6 1.6   0.0

8   0.0   2.9   1.5

9   -1.7 2.9   0.6

10 -1.4 1.7   0.2

11 -1.8 0.6   -0.6

12 -0.1 2.1   1.0

13 -0.7 4.1   1.0

14 -2.6 1.7   -0.5

15 -0.1 1.2   0.6

16 -1.9 0.4   -0.8

17 -1.7 1.7   0.0

18 -1.7 2.2   0.3

19 -1.5 0.3   0.6

20 -4.8 2.6   -1.1

21 -3.9 4.1   0.1

22 -2.1 2.8   0.4

23 -2.8 1.9   -0.5

24 -6.7 0.6   -3.1

25 -9.8 2.2   -3.8

26 -5.2 4.8   -0.2

27 -4.6 2.8   -0.9

28 -3.3 5.4   1.1

 

Mean temp for month = -1.1C

Mean temp for January and February = -1.7C

 

Comparison of temperatures at Langar between 1947 and 1963

 

1947 January   avge min=-1.0 avge max=3.5   mean=1.3

1963 January avge min=-5.0 avge max=0.2   mean=-2.4

 

1947 February avge min=-4.2   avge max=1.5 mean=-2.3

1963 February avge min=-3.7   avge max=1.8 mean=-0.9

So for the two months being compared 1947 showed a mean temp of -0.5 and 1963 gave -1.7C

 

I cannot get data for frosts and snow for 1947 but for 1963 these were;

days with snow falling= 20 in Jan and 19 in Feb; lying snow=31 in Jan and 19 in Feb.

Air frosts in January were 26 and 27 in February.

 

To add some comments on the above data. I lived in a centrally heated block with just a short walk to the dining and recreation area. Life was lived in short sleeves mostly with the bedroom window open a notch as the heating was so hot. Underground pipes went from the boiler house to all the buildings and snow/ice free areas showed their path. Once off the station then life showed up very differently, buses ran but occasionally stopped due to the intense cold, roads were usually passable in the Langar area. However, on my journeys home this was not the case. Although snowfall was not as high in terms of depth as 1947, some roads were impassable at times during blizzards when the winds picked up. Snow that fell in late December was still being blown around in February along with new falls. Data from Finningley shows it snowed on 40 out of 66 possible days from 26 December to 29 February. Thus the Chesterfield area may well have had a slightly higher figure. I do remember feeling very cold in bed at my parents with just one main fire in the house. Frost persisted throughout the day on windows away from the kitchen. When the snow started to thaw I did manage to drive my father’s car on to the nearest high ground, about 1,000ft up and some 6-7 miles from our house. The main road was a ‘tunnel’ with snow piled over 12-15 feet on each side of the road.

 

So another tale of a severe winter which I have experienced. Just the 1947 one to try and dig some relevant data out. Sadly a diary I know my father kept has been lost.

 

 

my apologies for not being able to post this lot as a file-won't do it for some reason

 

happy reading

Edited by johnholmes

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Oh, that's sooo cold. You poor thing. Those average mins are similar to what we experienced here in December 2010. Average min here was -4C, -7C in Topcliffe.

 

Looking at some historical data, the average max was subzero at Brize Norton, so pretty damn cold there.

 

Lots of conflicting opinion on here about this.

 

JH is right when he says the infrastructure has completely changed.  I can remember 1963 in South Wales where the snowdrifts were higher than telephone boxes (for those that remember telephone boxes) but very few people had central heating and a good supply of coal kept the living room warm.  Rest of the house was (bloody) cold, single glazed windows, iced every morning on the inside.  Now we have central heating, but the pump and the boiler need electricity, if that goes, the house goes cold.....

 

In the meantime you can see how well the national grid is performing here

 

http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/

To be fair, houses are better insulated now with double or even triple glazed windows, so I doubt you'd be waking up to ice inside your windows now, and I doubt you'd be seeing your breath condensing indoors. I lost heating during the December 2010 cold spell, for a brief time, and it was unpleasant indoors at times, but it wasn't intolerable, and I doubt I'd have succumbed to hypothermia. We were provided with portable electric heaters until our boiler was fixed, so we were able to keep warm. Funnily enough, I never once found myself cursing the snow or the cold. My opinion might change if I had to endure 2 months of it, but I doubt it.

 

Also, as I have mentioned time and time again, it isn't cold that disrupts transport, it is snow. Snow only causes issues for a day or two, up here anyway, before things return back to normality quickly. I'm not sure how snowy the 62/3 cold spell was here, but it wasn't very snowy everywhere. I know that there were places that got little snow, it was just very cold.

Edited by cheese

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Posted (edited) · Hidden by cheese, October 14, 2013 - No reason given
Hidden by cheese, October 14, 2013 - No reason given

..

Edited by cheese

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I spent my early childhood in a croft with no electricity supply and no running water during harsh winter periods. We coped fine as we had the burn for water, peat fires and oil lamps but mostly we coped because we knew nothing else and our expectations and needs were not developed as they are today.

 

I very much doubt that the present day folk in modern homes will cope as well - if the Grid goes down it will be a major problem for anyone trying to heat their homes and cook food; the water supply will likely freeze and sanitation problems will be another woe. I suspect some of you will be less enthusiastic when you cannot follow conditions on the internet and send reports from the comfort of your warm home.

 

As for the predictions - who knows. Local regional modelling is predicting a substantial drop in temperatures over the next couple of years - that will need to start soon - maybe this winter will be the one that kicks it off.

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I spent my early childhood in a croft with no electricity supply and no running water during harsh winter periods. We coped fine as we had the burn for water, peat fires and oil lamps but mostly we coped because we knew nothing else and our expectations and needs were not developed as they are today.

 

I very much doubt that the present day folk in modern homes will cope as well - if the Grid goes down it will be a major problem for anyone trying to heat their homes and cook food; the water supply will likely freeze and sanitation problems will be another woe. I suspect some of you will be less enthusiastic when you cannot follow conditions on the internet and send reports from the comfort of your warm home.

 

As for the predictions - who knows. Local regional modelling is predicting a substantial drop in temperatures over the next couple of years - that will need to start soon - maybe this winter will be the one that kicks it off.

 

There's a river near me but I doubt the water tastes very nice, would have to invest in a filter just in case, BUT if the electric fails I may need a generator or something for the filter lol

And yep the Internet has revolutionised how people find out about "what's going on" using things like Twitter etc - without that people will be non the wiser about what the emergency services and utility companies (electric, water etc) are doing about problems with a grid. Unless you ring but the phone lines could be down too.

Edited by Gaz1985

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Oh, that's sooo cold. You poor thing. Those average mins are similar to what we experienced here in December 2010. Average min here was -4C, -7C in Topcliffe.

 

 

ah but the difference is not rather less than 4 weeks  but 10 weeks of it, and you are right we have houses better insulated but we rely more on the national grid rather than electricity or gas to cook and coal to burn, and local farmers and shops rather than the huge multi national chain stores to provide that nowdays most food and essential commodities. As to 1962-63 not being very snowy, best you read some of the first hand accounts that others on here have provided and yes for most of the Peak District area, and I supsect much of the Pennines it was pretty snowy, both frequency and depth.

 

The average minimum for the whole 69 days 22 December to 28 February was -4.9C

To answer the comment from Ian (TWS) it was a reasonably sunny winter thank gawd.

Edited by johnholmes

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I have no idea why people enjoy such extremes of weather, other than to say 'I was there when that happened' which clearly is an achievement of some sorts. I'm all for winter, but I love it for one reason - snow, not cold. Wouldn't people rather  we had a winter minima of -5 but have 50 days of falling snow, than say 10 snow days but have it -10 in the middle of the day? Not only does it cause the industry and economy plenty of issues, but it puts people of all ages at risk of losing their life - never mind the copious amounts of social issues. The football season falls apart and you can't go out of an evening because people can't be bothered to move. It's completely the same in the summer - why do people want it to be 35c when 25c is plenty hot enough to sit in your garden, have a BBQ, drink beer, enjoy evenings out etc - it's just not neccessary and as I said causes more issues than it's worth.
 
Personally, it can be a mild winter aslong as there are a couple of memorable snow events. Too hot and too cold are no fun. 
Edited by PolarWarsaw

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One of John's posts referenced lack of sunshine and I think that could also be quite a significant factor in how large the hardship would be.  I've read a few scientific papers suggesting a link between reliance on heating and increasing amounts of cloud cover, as well as increasing amounts of cold and snow. 

 

While I can't be sure where my "I don't want any more cold/snow for a long while" breaking point lies (recent winters haven't come close to approaching it, though I have occasionally wanted a temporary thaw to remove a layer of solid ice prior to the next snowfall) it's a safe bet that it would be much harder to reach during a bright snowy winter than a dark snowy winter, and I certainly enjoyed the bright snowy spells of 2009/10 and 2010/11 a lot more than the grey snowy ones in the winter of 2012/13.

 

This is also one of the many reasons why I think that a repeat of 1946/47 would be harder for the UK to cope with than a repeat of 1962/63 (although the quantity of snowfall and subsequent flooding during March 1947 would probably be even larger factors).  The reports from the site http://www.winter1947.co.uk/ point to a long dull but mainly dry spell during the middle part of February 1947 which would have tested many of us, though I could see myself wishing for a pattern change due to the lack of sun long before the cold/snow started to get too much.

 

However I reckon that even in a bright snowy winter, a large majority of us would be seriously tested if it got to the point where the National Grid network started to freeze over, which relates to John's point about 10 weeks of severe cold as opposed to 4 weeks, which as we saw with December 2010, isn't really long enough to give us that problem.

Edited by Thundery wintry showers

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I have no idea why people enjoy such extremes of weather, other than to say 'I was there when that happened' which clearly is an achievement of some sorts. I'm all for winter, but I love it for one reason - snow, not cold. Wouldn't people rather  we had a winter minima of -5 but have 50 days of falling snow, than say 10 snow days but have it -10 in the middle of the day? Not only does it cause the industry and economy plenty of issues, but it puts people of all ages at risk of losing their life - never mind the copious amounts of social issues. The football season falls apart and you can't go out of an evening because people can't be bothered to move. It's completely the same in the summer - why do people want it to be 35c when 25c is plenty hot enough to sit in your garden, have a BBQ, drink beer, enjoy evenings out etc - it's just not neccessary and as I said causes more issues than it's worth. Personally, it can be a mild winter aslong as there are a couple of memorable snow events. Too hot and too cold are no fun.

I'm in the "less snow, more cold" camp, using your examples. I'd imagine low minima but limited snow is far less disruptive than warmer (but still cold) minima but more persistent snow. I accept I'm probably in the minority on this one.

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ah but the difference is not rather less than 4 weeks  but 10 weeks of it, and you are right we have houses better insulated but we rely more on the national grid rather than electricity or gas to cook and coal to burn, and local farmers and shops rather than the huge multi national chain stores to provide that nowdays most food and essential commodities. As to 1962-63 not being very snowy, best you read some of the first hand accounts that others on here have provided and yes for most of the Peak District area, and I supsect much of the Pennines it was pretty snowy, both frequency and depth.

Well, I said for some areas. I'm pretty sure it wasn't very snowy in NW England, but I don't know. That's what some people have said from the likes of St Helens.

 

I think I could cope for 10 weeks quite easily! I've already experienced a 'proper' winter - but not in the UK. Maybe once would be enough though.

 

Perhaps my original comment was a bit too sarky though.. lol.

Edited by cheese

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Just a thought, are people maybe underestimating the capability of the national grid? They must have contingency plans for a long, cold winter, you would hope! Yes, we may face blackouts but I'd imagine they would be infrequent and intermittent, I can't envisage the whole grid being completely out of action for weeks/months on end.

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I have no idea why people enjoy such extremes of weather, other than to say 'I was there when that happened' which clearly is an achievement of some sorts. I'm all for winter, but I love it for one reason - snow, not cold. Wouldn't people rather  we had a winter minima of -5 but have 50 days of falling snow, than say 10 snow days but have it -10 in the middle of the day? Not only does it cause the industry and economy plenty of issues, but it puts people of all ages at risk of losing their life - never mind the copious amounts of social issues. The football season falls apart and you can't go out of an evening because people can't be bothered to move. It's completely the same in the summer - why do people want it to be 35c when 25c is plenty hot enough to sit in your garden, have a BBQ, drink beer, enjoy evenings out etc - it's just not neccessary and as I said causes more issues than it's worth.
 
Personally, it can be a mild winter aslong as there are a couple of memorable snow events. Too hot and too cold are no fun. 

 

 

 

I need a long prolonged winter to test out my new igloo design and I need a few feet of level snow which has sat around for a while to be able to carve my blocks out. more snow equates to more rooms. A few days stuck off work to build it would be nice also.  Posted Image

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Just a thought, are people maybe underestimating the capability of the national grid? They must have contingency plans for a long, cold winter, you would hope! Yes, we may face blackouts but I'd imagine they would be infrequent and intermittent, I can't envisage the whole grid being completely out of action for weeks/months on end.

 

I agree with this I expect in worse case scenario businesses would have to cut hours to save electricity for more essential residential areas especially at night etc.

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