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Bitter spell mid Feb to March 1786

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A very cold spell is recorded by Gilbert White in his nature journal covering late February into March 1786. February that year started pretty average with some gales mid-month and it was not until the 21st that an East wind is mentioned. After 4 days of bitter conditions he notes that "ploughs are stopped by the frost" and "men cannot dig in the hop-gardens". A heavy snowfall arrives on the 27th and is described as about 7 inches deep - falling without drifting and lodged on the trees so it appears "very grotesque and picturesque".

What happened next is the real surprise for our 'modern expectations'. The east wind gets up again and it becomes even colder so that the lying snow is now drifted "over hedges and gates". The first signs of any thawing are not seen until 10th March and even by 22nd March the lanes have "much snow still lying". Given this is Hampshire and not very far from the South coast it just goes to show how potent a late Winter spell could be back then.

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9 minutes ago, overcast said:

Given this is Hampshire and not very far from the South coast it just goes to show how potent a late Winter spell could be back then.

And still could be!

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17 minutes ago, overcast said:

A very cold spell is recorded by Gilbert White in his nature journal covering late February into March 1786. February that year started pretty average with some gales mid-month and it was not until the 21st that an East wind is mentioned. After 4 days of bitter conditions he notes that "ploughs are stopped by the frost" and "men cannot dig in the hop-gardens". A heavy snowfall arrives on the 27th and is described as about 7 inches deep - falling without drifting and lodged on the trees so it appears "very grotesque and picturesque".

What happened next is the real surprise for our 'modern expectations'. The east wind gets up again and it becomes even colder so that the lying snow is now drifted "over hedges and gates". The first signs of any thawing are not seen until 10th March and even by 22nd March the lanes have "much snow still lying". Given this is Hampshire and not very far from the South coast it just goes to show how potent a late Winter spell could be back then.

Yup March 1785 is the coldest on record in the CET series with easterly winds on most days. It managed to be far colder then March 2013 despite the fact both of these months were dominated by easterlies.

For the most impressive cold spell, March 1845 has to take the crown for containing a week in the middle of the month, when daily mean CET values were consistently several degrees below freezing.

Edit: March 12th to 20th 1845 contained a mean CET of -1.9C!! March 13th had a remarkable daily mean of -6.5C

Edited by Quicksilver1989
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Central England temperature series 1750-1830. The length of the Laki-Grímsvötn 1783-1785 volcanic eruption is indicated by the dark blue bar. The immediate cooling effect of the eruption is clearly seen, both summer and winter. The bar 1785-1793 indicate a subsequent period with relatively low air temperatures recorded in Central England, especially during the growing season (summer). This period may at least partly be due to a higher atmospheric content of aerosols in the years following the eruption. These graphs has been prepared using the composite monthly meteorological series since 1659, originally painstakingly homogenized and published by the late professor Gordon Manley (1974). The data series is now updated by the Hadley Centre and may be downloaded from there by clicking here. A graph showing the entire Central England temperature series since 1659 can be seen by clicking here.

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8 hours ago, Quicksilver1989 said:

Yup March 1785 is the coldest on record in the CET series with easterly winds on most days. It managed to be far colder then March 2013 despite the fact both of these months were dominated by easterlies.

For the most impressive cold spell, March 1845 has to take the crown for containing a week in the middle of the month, when daily mean CET values were consistently several degrees below freezing.

Edit: March 12th to 20th 1845 contained a mean CET of -1.9C!! March 13th had a remarkable daily mean of -6.5C

March 2013 only really got going proper after mid-month. IIRC the second half of March 2013 was the third coldest ever recorded.

Aside from that, those statistics from 1845 are mighty impressive.

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Local met office near here gives the coldest march since 1900 as 1947 with a mean of 1.75 deg ,bearing in mind milder weather came around 19th of the month it must have been exceptional for the first 3 weeks,following on from a February of -2.35 compared to cet [-1.9]

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9 minutes ago, hillbilly said:

Local met office near here gives the coldest march since 1900 as 1947 with a mean of 1.75 deg ,bearing in mind milder weather came around 19th of the month it must have been exceptional for the first 3 weeks,following on from a February of -2.35 compared to cet [-1.9]

It certainly was, never again please, although as a lad of almost 8 it was true wonderland. Of course not just March until the thaw and floods arrived but from mid-late January continuously.

Nope not as bad as that thanks.

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35 minutes ago, johnholmes said:

It certainly was, never again please, although as a lad of almost 8 it was true wonderland. Of course not just March until the thaw and floods arrived but from mid-late January continuously.

Nope not as bad as that thanks.

Even more impressive with a mean of 1.75  hilly districts similar to where I used to live which are between 2 and 3 degrees colder must have registered a 'Subzero' March !

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