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The Big Freeze of ten years ago...


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Itll soon be ten years since we experienced the coldest December on record. I was wondering, what caused it? Because it apparently wasnt via a SSW. We seem to look for SSWs as the holy grail for cold spells, but Big Freezes can apparently be driven by other factors.
So what drove the freeze od 2010?  Any ideas?

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I lived in Grampian at the time. The snow and the cold were amazing.  Had no place to go...

Maxima and upper-air temperatures  in March 2018 were astonishingly cold for the time of year. A little-known fact, but 1st March 2018 broke the CET record for the lowest daily maximum in March (-1.2C

Some memories of 2010 from the gallery.   

Posted Images

In pure speculation and hope I offer this suggestion......perhaps it is connected with pre-existing conditions  in which pandemics thrive?

2010 is the last December we had with a CET of below zero......  The previous December had been cold as well and it just so happens that 2009-10 was the last time a global pandemic was declared with the spread of Swine Flu.

You have to go back 120 years to a previous December with a CET below 0. Funnily enough, the Russian Flu pandemic hit the world in 1889-90

So what of other pandemics?  Well of course there was the Spanish Flu of 1918-19 .  Personally I believe the First World War delayed the discovery of this and otherwise it would have been detected in 1916-1917 and coincided with the bitterly cold winter that saw just 1.9C CET in December 1916 and January 1917 followed by a February below 1C.  Ok a little bit of poetic licence there but the combined months of October and November 1919 provided one of the coldest ever combinations for the two months.

Then there was the Hong Kong flu pandemic in 1968 and 1969......and while December 1968 saw a chilly 3C CET,  February and March of the following year were a combined 1C colder than  in 1963!

 Maybe...just maybe......this winter.....?  :)

    

 

 

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16 minutes ago, Timmytour said:

In pure speculation and hope I offer this suggestion......perhaps it is connected with pre-existing conditions  in which pandemics thrive?

2010 is the last December we had with a CET of below zero......  The previous December had been cold as well and it just so happens that 2009-10 was the last time a global pandemic was declared with the spread of Swine Flu.

You have to go back 120 years to a previous December with a CET below 0. Funnily enough, the Russian Flu pandemic hit the world in 1889-90

So what of other pandemics?  Well of course there was the Spanish Flu of 1918-19 .  Personally I believe the First World War delayed the discovery of this and otherwise it would have been detected in 1916-1917 and coincided with the bitterly cold winter that saw just 1.9C CET in December 1916 and January 1917 followed by a February below 1C.  Ok a little bit of poetic licence there but the combined months of October and November 1919 provided one of the coldest ever combinations for the two months.

Then there was the Hong Kong flu pandemic in 1968 and 1969......and while December 1968 saw a chilly 3C CET,  February and March of the following year were a combined 1C colder than  in 1963!

 Maybe...just maybe......this winter.....?  🙂

    

 

 

Again shouldn't try and pattern match weather to periods of change politically or otherwise, but there has been a strong correlation of recessionary periods and turmoil in recent years and colder winter periods, 1978/79 pre-Thatcher and winter of discontent, winter 81/82 peak unemployment. Recession of 1990-92 started winter 90/91. Recession of 08-.... peaked in 2009 and 2010, change of government. New recession, virus, Brexit..  all peaking winter 20/21... mmm...

 

Back to this time 10 years, we were on the dawn of a very special period for cold lovers... remember the forecasts saying colder and colder day by day, those tremendous long fetch NE winds, highly unusual for late November. Tons of snow in NE. Had we not had winter 09/10 its effect would have been far more intense I feel, but we had got used to some very cold snowy weather at that point after the two winters previous 

Edited by damianslaw
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A little bit more seriously than the above post (only a little!) put forward in a near-complete absence of knowledge let alone expertise......

I wonder if there was a connection to the eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland?   The seismic activity that pre-empted the eruptions had begin at the end of 2009.  After a warm October and November in 2009 we then saw a cool December and then 2010...the only year since 1973 in the UK where not one single month registered in its top 10% warmest list.  I can only imagine the eruptions had some impact upon the upper atmosphere that last for some time. 

Incidentally, in 2010 it was feared the volcano's near-neighbour, the larger Katia, would be set off at the time.  although it hasn't registered anything other than small sub glacial eruptions since 1918, the last time it registered a VEI of 3 or above,  Between 1580 and 1918 it registered 9 eruptions between VEI3 and VEI5 ,  so that would indicate  one is certainly overdue.   Personally I imagine such eruptions would be a bit like an SSW.....it would give us a shot of getting in some really cold weather, but would depend on us falling on the right side of things.

 

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A remarkable spell of weather. Between late November and early December we didn't get above zero for 8 days straight. And during the second surge of bitter air later on in December we didn't get above zero for a further 10 straight days. Very unusual indeed. River Medlock at the bottom of my field frozen solid during both spells. I still remember ice crystals falling from a clear sky one morning when we dipped close to -18C.

From the 24th November through to the end of December there was only 6 nights above freezing here. The big thaw came on Boxing day though. The rest of the Winter was very different though, February notably was very mild. 

Edited by Frost HoIIow
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Yes I remember this spell very well.I lived in Chelsfield,Kent at the time and from about 23rd November things started Turner colder and colder and the snow lay 17 inches deep by early December here(Thames streamer effect).The most snow I have witnessed in my lifetime.It stayed cold right till Boxing Day and snow was still 4-5 inches deep then but the thaw set in and we didn’t see another flake of snow that winter!!

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One of my favourite things about cold spells is the lead up to them. That few days in particular before they arrive. We knew  this cold spell was nailed on and seeing the temp drop day by day in the immediate run up to it was exciting.  One of my favourite memories was the run up to the cold spell of 2010 and when it arrived not only did it not disappoint it exceeded my expectations .

The cold spell arrived at my location on the night of Friday the 26th with snow showers later in the night or I suppose the early hours of the 27th. Going to bed that night I could see flashes of lightning out in the irish sea. When I woke up that Saturday morning the 27th everything was covered in white ,not a huge amount  a few cms,but a nice way to kick things off and things really got going on the 1st of dec.

Edited by sundog
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Only time I was grateful to Scotrail for breaking down at Aviemore.just the week before Christmas as had to drive from Inverness station to Aviemore to pick up Aurora Storm and her partner heading home for the holidays. There was bright sunshine and on higher parts of th A9 it was -14c on the car thermometer  with road surface bone dry and the salt blowing about behind the car. There were frozen waterfalls everywhere and the snow surface sparkled like diamonds. .Truly a winter scene especially before Christmas.

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It all seemed to stem from that SSW event of early 2008 because from then onwards we had a lot of northerly blocking/ -NAO periods events right through to mid 2013 and late November/December 2010 was the extreme of this. Interesting that period falls almost mid point. 2010 was one of the most -NAO years in recorded history, so I don' think December 2010 just popped up out of thin air, I suppose it feels like it popped up out of thin air because of the general trend of the last 30 years but it did lie within that period where we were returning more and more below average months and the previous winter showed what was still possible.  It was amazing how extreme it was, late November to Christmas 2010 was -1.5C

 

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11 hours ago, Paul said:

Nick wrote up a nice article about December 2010 a couple of years back:

satellite_uk_241210_mid.jpg
WWW.NETWEATHER.TV

December 2010 - the coldest for 100 years - a look back.

 

yes i saw that, but it doesnt answer my question as to what lead to it? given it wasnt a direct ssw.

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I remember the end of November/early December planning to attend a Rally in the North of England/Southern Scotland; spectators were advised not to head for Langdale, NYorks - so I headed for the eastern part of Kielder. The main roads were fine, but b/unclassified weren't gritted. So turned round and headed for just north of Dumfries; no problems at all, even the road into the forest. Just cold, and slightly frosty. Late afternoon, checked the phone, and most of the following day was cancelled, as access roads were impassable.

And then came the week before Christmas - our works night out; cancelled following the heavy snow on the Friday night. And the sight of a BMW driver over the road unable to come out of a side road - no traction. Over a week or more of 'winter wonderland' - rather than the usual day before it disappears.

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I remember that one. Our hot water and central heating combi boiler packed in on Christmas day, with everybody else's, as condensate outlet pipes froze solid everywhere. Two cold days later we got somebody who quickly sorted it out. I remember it well because my firstborn was already overdue from the  23rd but had the sense to stay where it was warm until a few days later!

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Love reading and listening to people's memories of December 2010! 

As others have mentioned this month was during a wider period of more blocked synoptics really running from late 2008 to mid 2013.

I was 16 at the time, and easily recall being up at 6am super excited to ski and sledge. We didn't have that many days off school, but break times and after school were a right laugh! 

Where I'm a tad sad that we'll never see a December like that again, I'm grateful that I've experienced how cold a December can get at what was a good age to enjoy it! 

Oh yeah and second white Christmas on the bounce ❄🎄

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4 hours ago, mushymanrob said:

yes i saw that, but it doesnt answer my question as to what lead to it? given it wasnt a direct ssw.

kde_rain_u10.png?w=640
SIMONLEEWX.COM

The title might seem rather obvious - or a surprising statement coming from me! But what I seek to achieve in this short blog post...



This article by Simon Lee has a few bits about 2010. It was very unusual in that it had a fairly normal strength vortex, and the hefty -AO pattern was confined to the trop rather than coupled down from the strat. Hardly any examples of this at all in recorded history!

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12 minutes ago, mb018538 said:
kde_rain_u10.png?w=640
SIMONLEEWX.COM

The title might seem rather obvious - or a surprising statement coming from me! But what I seek to achieve in this short blog post...



This article by Simon Lee has a few bits about 2010. It was very unusual in that it had a fairly normal strength vortex, and the hefty -AO pattern was confined to the trop rather than coupled down from the strat. Hardly any examples of this at all in recorded history!

Thanks for that 🙂

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I was fortunate to be brought up as a kid in the Pennine hills in the 1970s so was able to witness first hand those winters of the 70s and 80s so after so many years of the late 90s to 2008 it was a surprise to see such cold return.Here however December 2010 didnt get as cold as that of 1981.2010 was a calm december,with level snow of 1 ft but Alpine like cold,clear skies and sunny days and an average of -0.7 for the month.1981 however gave more snow and winds producing enormous drifts as well as brutal cold averaging -1 deg for the month.The reason why it happened is probably too complex for any computer .Yes the Icelandic eruption could well have played a part but would only have been minor but for me its a bit like long droughts and long spells of wet at some point a number of factors throw the switch in the opposite direction.

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Castlederg in the extreme West of NI is the closest weather station to me. The depth and length of cold was exceptional. 

211 consecutive hours below freezing between 17-26 December. Of that 187 hours were continuously below -5. Multiple days didn't get above -10. -11 was coldest daytime high. -11.3 was the record set close by. A new record for NI of -18.7c was set at Castlederg.

On the day the cold spell started I remember it raining and quickly turning to snow and icy as it cleared. Heavy persistent beefy snow showers followed on and off for the next 24 to 36 hours. No snow after that just an intense freeze with 35cm lying. A local weather station operated by the national road network recorded sub -19 but not an official one. Was reports of -20 being recorded in my area which would be a record for Ireland but nothing official attributed to that claim.

Edited by Donegal
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BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico???

I'm almost certain that wouldn't have had any impact, however what I don't know is whether high pressure to the North is caused by less Atlantic activity or if its the other way round?

If the PV was normal and no SSW occurred then WOW! I'd love to know what to look out for!

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