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Exceptional weather events in our lifetime

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nowt but a lad Nick

Jan-Mar 1947

Dec-Feb 1962-63

August 1947

late summer 1959, heat and drought

winter 1979

Dec-Jan 1981-82

just a few noteworthy ones, oh and of course the east coast floods of 1953


summers of both 75 and 76

and then from there much as Nick and others will probably post


Edited by johnholmes
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Quite a few but one that stands out would be an exceptionally deep depression on Ocean Station India in the 1960s (would need to look it up for the exact details). We had an argument with CFO on what the central pressure was but filling a radiosonde balloon with the wind gusting well over 100kts was not a stroll in the park, particularly whilst underwater


Another storm comes to mind on Station Alpha because the decks iced up to help things along.


Winters of 47 and 62-3.


Forgot the summer of 59 at Dunstable.

Edited by knocker
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For me, the storm on the evening of 2nd January 1976. This caused inland, lowland gusts of over 100 mph, in the Midlands / East Anglia.


I remember as a young boy being very scared, but excited, by the roar of the wind and the next day seeing loads of large trees felled on the Manor Estate in Brightlingsea, as well as the next door neighbour's greenhouse obliterated.


One of three very powerful windstorms I've experienced in Britain (Burns' Day and October '87 being the others)


References here:







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Quite a few but one that stands out would be an exceptionally deep depression on Ocean Station India in the 1960s (would need to look it up for the exact details). We had an argument with CFO on what the central pressure was but filling a radiosonde balloon with the wind gusting well over 100kts was not a stroll in the park, particularly whilst underwater


Another storm comes to mind on Station Alpha because the decks iced up to help things along.


Winters of 47 and 62-3.


Forgot the summer of 59 at Dunstable.


I forgot the great storm of 1968


We were anchored in the Clyde off of Gourock waiting to dock in Greenock. The wind started blowing a hooligan and we started dragging our anchor. No problem just pull it up and get under power. Problem was they couldn't get the anchor up and after a short while we were dangerously close to an unscheduled landing at Gourock. Eventually they decided to slip the anchor and we got under way, but it was a fairly close call. We were luckier than some other ships in the Clyde.

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The hot summers of 75, 76 and 2003. The October 1987 storm - even in London it was scary - the Burns Day storm of 1990 (somewhere there is CCTV footage that made it to the national media of a friend and I being blown across Oxford Street) and the Kensal Rise tornado of 2006, which went nearly overhead before it touched the ground.

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Hottest August on record 1995. I remember coming home from holiday late Aug and the vegetation looked more like a parched Spanish landscape.

January 2010. Scotland got hammered that winter. For them it was colder than their 1963 winter!

Floods of summer 2007. The north got hit hard that time.

Laat March was coldest in my lifetime. Probably as bad as anyone on the forum can remember, though the March 1947 blizzards would top it.

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The rainfall in the autumn of 2000 should surely be included in the opening post. Still clinging onto the wettest ever season title as I type, and was considered to be a once in 250 years event at the time.


Yes, should have included that one, as October was the 2nd wettest (equal with 1987) in more than a century. I recall one evening that October while I was living in Brighton of extreme rainfall where roads turned into rivers. There were some exceptional 24 rainfall totals of 140mm+ in some Sussex locations, with 300mm+ for the whole month in parts of Sussex, Lewes town centre was badly flooded by the river as a result.

Edited by Nick F
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My top ten.

1. Winter 62/63 ( coldest winter ever, would blow your mind away if was repeated here )

2. Winter 78/79 ( severe cold and snow and strong NEly winds ,lots of high ground drifting )

3. February 69 ( Northwest Polar Lows )

4. December 81(NW)

5. December 2010( SE)

6. Glorious summer of 59 (UK)

7. Summer heatwave of 76(UK)

8  March cold of 2013 ( UK )

9. Record snowfall winter 13/14 ( Southern Alps )

10. Record summer heat of summer 2013 ( Austria )



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Surprised no one has mentioned April 2011- I'd put it right up there for memorable events in my lifetime, when you consider how it smashed the all time record for a warm April only 4 years after the previous remarkable record had been set. 

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Events that stick out...



Summer of 76 as a boy seemed to last forever

Great South West blizzard Feb 78 most snow i have seen anywhere in the world!

Winter 78-9 if you liked snow..all your birthdays and Xmases rolled into one.

July 1983 (warmest month on record until July 2006)

Summer 85,86,87...cold and wet

Feb 86 persistent cold

Winters 88-90 all very mild and snowless

Summer of 90 summer of love, warmth and world cup mania

Feb 91 cold and snowy first 2-3 weeks

July 94 hot and stormy

Summer of 95 hot and dry

Autumn 2000 Wet wet wet

June 2005 perfect summer month

June/July 2007 horrendously wet



May 2010 - Blizzards and sub zero max's mid month

Summer 2010 - Exceptionally stormy had t-storms every day for 6 weeks June and July

March 2011 - Coldest March in Alberta for 90 years mean of -11c for the month

Winter 2011/12 second mildest on record and near snowless

July 2012 hot and sunny

June 2013 Great Calgary flood

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May be of local interest, but the single wettest day ever in UK is hasn't made an appearance - 314mm in 24hrs 20th Nov 2010. Resulting torrent wrecked my town and took out the majority of bridges in NW cumbria


Very notable! Though it was 2009 as far as I know. On that date in 2010 we were on the cusp of the great cold spell.

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Was anyone at Walshaw Dean Reservoir 19/5/89?


193 mm in 2 hours!

I was bringing the cows in to milk a few miles away and could see the blackest of clouds,torrential is not the word,when I got back to the farm my wellingtons were  full ,we just caught the edge of the storm,amazing,lots or damage to bridges,houses flooded,went into Halifax that night and the subways were full with water!

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Very few extreme events in my lifetime as the weather has become more benign, unvaried and temperate. So unless you include things such as extreme lack of temperature variation, extreme low diurnal ranges, etc there is very little.
Here are the major records for Aberdeen from the 1850s onwards and those with an asterix are the ones I've experienced
Hottest summer: 1976
Coldest summer: 1912
Wettest Summer: 1957
Driest Summer: 1976
Sunniest Summer: 1911
Dullest Summer: 1912
Mildest Winter: 1988/89*
Coldest Winter: 1894/95
Snowiest Winter: 1946/47
Least Snowy Winter Season: 1956/57
Wettest Winter: 1876/77
Driest Winter: 1857/58
Warmest Month: July 1933/July 2006*
Coldest Month: Jan 1881
Wettest/Stormiest Month: December 1876
Driest month: August 1947 - the only rain-free month!
Sunniest Month: June 1936
Dullest Month: December 1903
Warmest Year: 2003*
Coldest Year: 1879
Wettest Year: 1872
Driest Year: 1921
Sunniest Year: 2003*
Dullest Year: 1968
Strongest Gale: January 1953
Hottest Day: July 1876 (don't know exact day but temp was 86F)
Coldest Day: 27th Jan 1910
Warmest Night: 25th August 1959
Coldest Night: 23rd Feb 1955 (depends on location - this is the record for Dyce)
Wettest Day: 24th July 1970
Longest Drought: 21st Feb - 25th March 1953
Most Thundery Year: 1957
Biggest Snowstorm: 29th December 1908
Earliest Snowfall: 19th September 1919
Latest Snowfall: 2nd June 1975
Biggest Floods: 1829, 1920, 1937 as marked on a fisherman's hut by the River Dee at Park House, Drumoak, Aberdeenshire. These three stand out by a mile with nothing comparable in recent years.
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Would take me all day but here goes.......


Winters being 1978/1979...nothing comes close

 end jan to early march 1986,beats the above for cold

dec 81/jan 82 both snow and cold,beats 2010 here

april24/26 1981 crazy...followed by floods

march 2013,first real blizzard for 20 years


1976 ,don't recall all that well

  1995 unbelievable


  1997,2003,2006 great


January 1976 dad got us out of bed in middle of the night as he thought the roof was coming off,pulled off the huge stone ridges and some heavy stone slates

January 13 th 1984 A lot of damage round here

burns night storm

  numerous others

the last 5 months


December 1981

The Halifax storm,193mm in 2 hours

autumn 2000

august 2004

summer 2007

the whole of 2012,appalling


The year with no summer 2008,suicidal!!!

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All-time records set in Hobart, Tasmania during my 40 years: ( Records since 1882 ), so my lifetime covers almost a third of the record-set (wow.. that makes me feel a bit old!!...)



1982....Coldest temperature recorded (-2.8C)

1985....Coldest daily maximum recorded (4.3C)

1986....Deepest snow since 1921 (8cm/3.5ins)

1987....Hottest September day

1987....Hottest October day

1988....Highest tidal storm surge and lowest barometric pressure (966mb)

1997....Hottest May day

2008....Hottest March day

2013....Hottest temperature recorded (41.8C) and second most destructive bushfire event (220 homes lost)



Too numerous to list, but all bar one due to record warmth ( mean, average max and min, heatwaves ).

A number of months have recorded recorded low rainfall.



2006....Driest year on record (343mm)

2010....Hottest year (mean temperature)

Edited by Styx
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As a record breaking winter for rainfall, storminess and tidal surges draws to a close, it came to my mind that all of us have lived through some exceptional and, in some cases, unprecedented weather events in recent years. Events that are record-breaking, or at least, have brought the worst conditions for many generations or even a few centuries if the records go back that far for that particular exceptional event to be measured by. Some of these exceptional events, particularly in recent years, maybe driven by climate change, be it AGW or natural cycles (but that’s for another thread) – as these exceptional events seem to becoming increasingly common – particularly with regards to warming and flooding.


As I am now in my late 30s I have endured a fair share of exceptional weather events from memory and there are events early in my life, which I do not remember, such as the hottest and most prolonged summer on record in 1976 and the winter of 1978/79. But here are some of the exceptional events I and many of you have memories of:


Feb 1986 – The second coldest February of the 20th century after 1947 and there hasn’t been a colder once since. I remember local ponds and the local canal being permanently frozen that month and thick enough to stand on.


Jan 1987 – Exceptionally cold and snowy spell from the east, remember the village I lived in Kent being cut-off for a few days by snow drifts and there were some exceptionally low day maximum temperatures, on the 12th – maxima were commonly -6C to -8C across the southeast. Remember sat in the lounge with a roaring log fire and heating on full blast and you could still feel the cold radiating through the double glazing.


Great Storm of Oct 1987 – gust of 106mph recorded in Ashford, Kent near where I was living. I was a terrified 12 year old at the time it went through, no school and now elec for a few days. Much damage to roofs and fences in our street and local woodlands were flattened.


Winter 1988/89 – Mildest winter on record, remember there being no snow in Kent – which is the way this winter’s likely to end up.


Burns’ Day Storm 25th Jan 1990 – worse than Oct ’87 storm for deaths as it occurred during day time – gusts of 80mph+ across the Midlands and southern areas, 100mph+ across southern and western coasts. Remember being sent home early from School, and finding it very difficult to walk home against the wind not to mention the fear of being hit by flying debris.


Aug 1990, the 3rd was the hottest day on record (Cheltenham 37.1C) until beaten by Gravesend in 2003. Certainly remember my School holiday being a sunny, hot and dry one for the whole 6 weeks!


Aug 2003 – Gravesend, Kent set a new record with 38.1C recorded on the 10th, and boy did we suffer with no air con in most homes.


Nov/Dec 2010 – Very snowy and cold – Dec 2010 was the coldest December since 1890 – which is pretty exceptional. Remember I couldn’t get my car out of my road for 4 days+ as the snow turned to ice on the hill out which meant 2 wheel drive cars couldn’t get traction. First white Christmas I remember in my life time, though snow wasn’t actually falling on that day.


Winter 2013/14 – need I say more, the storms started with the St Judes Day one in late October and there was little let up ever since. The winter includes a notable storm/tidal surge in the east on the 5/6 December – the likes of which we haven’t seen for 60 years and serious flooding in southern Britain. The stormiest December on record I believe too.



So these are the exceptional and/or unprecedented weather events I’ve lived through in the UK, what are yours? What were your experiences of the above or other exceptional weather events?


I’m sure some of the above will be on your list, though experiences of these will be dependent on where you live, with other equally notable events that may have affected others more, that I’ve omitted. Of course, some of may also have lived through the more notable weather events pre-mid 70s such as the very cold Feb  of ’47, winter 62/63, etc. 

I can quote a few exceptional weather events that you missed out - another from the 1980s is summer 1983 and that very hot July.  Other notable winter spells are Dec 1981 / Jan 1982 plus Jan / Feb 1985 brought notable cold spells.  You can also add two consecutive winters among the mildest on record to that list - 1988-89 and 1989-90.  Plus a major event in the 1990s is the summer of 1995 - which did bear comparison with 1976 in relation to prolonged heat.  The severe spell in Feb 1991 can be added plus following on from the exceptional summer of 1995, winter 1995-96 was pretty decent and among the best winter for cold between the mid 1980s and 2009-10.


Another notable winter horror show in the 1990s was 1997-98 - in particular how unseasonably warm that February was.  Another one from the 2000s is the July 2006 heatwave, plus the warmest of any 12 month period on record (May 2006 - April 2007).  Apart from these and the August 2003 heatwave I cannot think of anything else notable weatherwise in the 2000s - goes to show it was a rather dull decade, weatherwise.

Edited by North-Easterly Blast
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