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North-Easterly Blast

January becoming less snowy

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As a January passes by without a flake of snow falling in most parts of the country south of the Scottish border, I think it is a good time to reflect how snow-free January has become over the last 25 years and at the very least from 1988 to 2008.

 

The Januarys of 1947, 1952, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1958, 1960, 1963, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1982, 1984, 1985, 1986 and 1987 all produced more significant snow events than any January since 1988 has (though obviously with the exception of 2010, and in a number of areas 2013).  Certain years (1963, 1979, possibly 1985) saw large areas of the country snow covered for more than half, if not most of the month.  The Januarys of 1951, 1953, 1959, 1962, 1967, 1970, 1972 and 1980 also produced events that would rival the best events in the post 1988 era, at least up until 2010.

 

If I was to look at it closely, perhaps the most significant widespread snowfall to occur in any January between 1988 and 2008 was possibly during the easterly spell of late January 1996, around the 25th to 28th of that month.

 

I have looked at this from visits to the Met Office Library and archives in Exeter, which I visit around once a year.  It isn't always easy to look at and note every significant snowfall, and sometimes some areas may record snowfall not documented in weather summaries, so I may have missed one or two years since Word War 2, but if I have, it underlines the decline in January snowfall more sharply.

Edited by North-Easterly Blast
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Undoubtedly it has become less snowy. Ridiculously snowless since 1988.

 

Here is a list of Januaries with no lying snow in Aberdeen between 1946 and 1987:

 

1964, 1973

 

and between 1988 - 2014:

 

1988, 1989, 1990, 1992, 1999, 2000, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2012, 2014

 

Plus most of the remaining Januaries managed no more than 1 or 2 days lying. It's shocking.

 

These are the Januaries between 1946 and 1987 that managed at least 5 days of cover (average) with those in bold managing at least 10 days (snowy):

 

1946, 1948, 1952, 1955, 1956, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1962, 1963, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1970, 1976, 1977, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987

 

and those between 1988 and 2014:

 

1993, 1995, 2010, 2013 

 

January is now the least snowy month between November and March and last decade it had less lying snow days than April did in the 1970s Posted Image

 

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All months have become less snowy in general. I'm not sure it's exclusive to January. There hasn't been a very cold or snowy February yet anyway - not like Jan 2010 (cold) or Jan 2013 (snowy).

 

Also, Leeds and the surrounding area saw a 40cm fall in Jan 1995. No month at all has come close to that, not even December 2010. You don't live too far - maybe you remember it?

Edited by cheese
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Definatley agree that jan since 1988 has become less snowy. Its become overall since then the least snowy month of the 3 winter months imo. Apart from 2010 its a struggle to think of any decent falls of snow in Jan here since 1988. Before 1988 i always looked forward to jan but nowadays its become more often then not pretty dire for snowfall at least in my location.

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Yes January since 1988 has been a very poor month for snow with a few exceptions most notably 2010.

 

You mentioned 1996 which did produce widespread snow during the last week. 1995 produced localised heavy snowfall in Yorkshire. 1997 hasn't been mentioned this opened with a cold snowy New Years Day and further snow on the 10th before the atlantic crashed through.

 

2009 wasn't too bad with a number of snowfalls early in the month. 2003 brought London its first Jan snowfalls since 1997 I believe. 2001 brought some decent snowfalls to Scotland. 2003 and 2004 produced heavy snowfalls at the tail end.

 

However, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2011, 2012 and 2014 were for many parts of the country preety snow free with only the odd day or two of snow. In some of these years none - 2014 would have been classed as such here if it wasn't for today's wet snow fest.

 

Apart from 1996, 1997, 2001, 2010 and 2013 all snowfalls in January since 1988 came courtesy of shortlived northerly arctic outbreaks, whereas in the years mentioned snow came courtesy of easterly airstreams - which have become increasingly harder to establish in Jan compared to Dec (unusually so) and Feb.

 

I wouldn' t be surprised if March ends up the snowiest month of this season, its happened before..

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 I wouldn' t be surprised if March ends up the snowiest month of this season, its happened before..

If February carries on the mild theme of Dec-Jan then it would be odds on. Even an average March would do it.

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I disagree.

 

Certainly over the last 15 years while it;s been more common for February to be snowy the January's of 2010 and 2013 were the two snowiest for me.

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What has struck me is the lack of 'ice days' lately - that is those with a max of about -5C - although we had some periods of snow last winter there were no such ice days - it might be worth making a check, 'cos my view is it ain't any good id the snow falls only for it to melt again within a short space of time.

 

We need time for the snow, the powdery stuff that is,  and the drifts to develop so we can take our time in appreciating their beauty and there is no beauty in slush.  

 

Funny enough when it is dryer and colder, it does not feel as cold.

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All months have become less snowy in general. I'm not sure it's exclusive to January. There hasn't been a very cold or snowy February yet anyway - not like Jan 2010 (cold) or Jan 2013 (snowy).

 

Also, Leeds and the surrounding area saw a 40cm fall in Jan 1995. No month at all has come close to that, not even December 2010. You don't live too far - maybe you remember it?

The snowfall of late January 1995 was very localised taking the UK as a whole, and it was also a short lived event.  Within three or four days most of the snow had gone.

 

You mention about February.  That month has in the majority of years since 1988 produced a few snowfalls for parts of the country although mostly short lived events.  However, as you rightly mention, we have not seen a February where large areas of the country have been snow covered for at least half the month since 1991.  Although Februarys 1994 and 1996 saw decent snowy spells. 

 

January has in general been a poor month for snow since 1988.  I would say that Januarys 1988, 1989, 1990, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2011, 2012, 2014  were all snowless for the large majority of the UK, give or take a few short lived slight falls here and there.  In 2010 a number of places did see snow cover for half the month, so we have seen a "snowy" January in 2010.  2013 was also pretty good, snow in many areas for up to ten days.  Prior to that you have to go back to 1987, although that month the snow cover didn't last above two weeks in most places.  I would say that 1985 is the last January in which large areas of the country were snow covered for more than half the month.

 

 

Edited by North-Easterly Blast
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Shocking but very true words North-Easterly Blast.  Whilst the fact that January is becoming less snowy itself is worrying, the fact that it's 30 years since the whole UK had snowcover for at least over half the month of January is even more shocking.

Edited by Craig Evans

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I think if you did some more digging you will find the same could be said of all the winter and extended winter months.Only dec 10,march 13 and jan 10 have been the exception in recent times.The fact is unless you live in the Scottish highlands snowfall has become a scarce comodity.I would also say that blizzards are very rare nowadays too ,only march 2013 giving a true blizzard since 1995,it was an annual event in the 80s!

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