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25 years ago the late Jan early Feb 96 cold snowy spell


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Posted
  • Location: Windermere 120m asl
  • Location: Windermere 120m asl

    Its 25 years ago since the very snowy and cold spell of late January - early February 1996. I remember it exceptionally well.

    After the freezing end to 1995, the start of 1996 was mild and very dull with the atlantic ruling the roost and often wet in the north and west, tropical maritime air ruled the roost. Mind it was a very weak affair - there were not storms... a signal this was not a normal winter..

    A major change took place over the weekend of 20/21 Jan, heights to our east surged west through Scandi and a marked drop in temps happened on the 21st as much of the UK came under the influence of a bitter long drawn easterly.

    The easterly stayed with us for the next few days driving in progressively colder air, and more and more snow showers. By the 26th many places were sub freezing and there was heavy snow in eastern parts. Overnight 26/27 easterly winds drove heavy snow right across to western parts, we had about 6 inches on Sat 27 Jan, unusual for an easterly to deliver so much - a mini beast from the east, with strong winds.

    Conditions during the rest of January and start of February were generally cold and settled, but there was a thaw with maxima in the low single digits and some cold frosty nights.

    Thereafter an event I'm always going on about happened on 5 Feb, an occluded front from the atlantic moved into western parts and stalled due to the strong heights to our NE, a cold SE wind feed ahead of it resulted in the heaviest snowfall I've ever witnessed here, 18 inches by the afternoon of the 6 Feb. The front didn't make it to eastern parts, and fizzled in situ with cold air behind it.

    The 7th was a winter wonderland and a day spent digging paths so people could leave there homes.

    By the 9th a rapid thaw took hold and the weekend of 10/11 was much milder. 

    The rest of February was though generally cold with further heavy snow, March was cold with heavy snow, and April brought snow as well. May was significantly below average as well.

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    Posted
  • Location: Cheshire
  • Location: Cheshire

    Thanks for this, damianslaw. Gosh, 25 years since the great west coast snowstorm of 5th - 6th February 1996. Who would have thought that an innocuous looking occluded front could cause such quantities of snow over a very narrow area? I was due to attend a weekend conference the following weekend in Birmingham but I cried off early on. The organisers were not amused as they had not had any snow whatsoever, and in the event, they were right to be annoyed because the snow quickly disappeared from the affected areas and I could have attended.

    I had thought that the cold spell preceding the snowfall started earlier in January than the 20th/21st. Certainly most of January in Blackpool was dry and it seemed v cold which I believe helped to exacerbate the snow when the front got stuck overhead.

    My other thought from your post was how lacking in sunshine the end of May was. In the spring bank holiday week, I don't think we saw the sun for more than an hour or two throughout the half term week.  

      

    Edited by A Face like Thunder
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    Posted
  • Location: halifax 125m
  • Weather Preferences: extremes the unusual and interesting facts
  • Location: halifax 125m

    Yes certainly a blizzard i wont forget.I was working on a farm in high in the pennines at 365 metres just 5 mins walk from home.It was about 5pm and dark,i was spreading manure in the fields bashing through snowdrifts with the tractor when the boss's son who had run from the farm flagged me down to say there was a fire at the farm.The farmer had left a heater blower going in an attempt to thaw a frozen waterpipe but had managed to catch some nearby straw.We frantically fought to get out our landrover and a tractor but  i burnt my hand attempting to get into another tractor and the farmer told me to leave it After hearing cows coughing in the neighbouring building  we decided to let them all out  and had to go into the back of the building to get them all out as many just stayed there and would have perished with smoke.that was definately putting myself in a bad place but got them all out.Then attention was to contain the fire ,we used the snowblower to blow snow onto the flames which worked quite well[not many people would have seen that] until the firemen arrived with the engines stuck at the bottom of the lane.we towed up two engines with the tractor then helped with hoses up the field to the farm tank that held 10000 gallons at the top of the field.When the firemen had managed to sort the fire we then had to get all the cows we had let out back in and put them in with the milking herd.we then had to walk round the fields to make sure we had got them all .We had lost a tractor and several farm machines and half a building.It was midnight before i got home still snowing and blowing!

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    Posted
  • Location: Windermere 120m asl
  • Location: Windermere 120m asl
    2 hours ago, A Face like Thunder said:

    Thanks for this, damianslaw. Gosh, 25 years since the great west coast snowstorm of 5th - 6th February 1996. Who would have thought that an innocuous looking occluded front could cause such quantities of snow over a very narrow area? I was due to attend a weekend conference the following weekend in Birmingham but I cried off early on. The organisers were not amused as they had not had any snow whatsoever, and in the event, they were right to be annoyed because the snow quickly disappeared from the affected areas and I could have attended.

    I had thought that the cold spell preceding the snowfall started earlier in January than the 20th/21st. Certainly most of January in Blackpool was dry and it seemed v cold which I believe helped to exacerbate the snow when the front got stuck overhead.

    My other thought from your post was how lacking in sunshine the end of May was. In the spring bank holiday week, I don't think we saw the sun for more than an hour or two throughout the half term week.  

      

    You might be thinking of Dec 95 which was very cold in the main, especially the last week, however  January up until 21st was mild and dull and in the west wet with no frost.

    May 96 felt like March, there was very slow spring growth, often cloudy and raw under a cold NE wind, many days until later in the month struggled to make double figures, a shocking statistic given how warm temps can climb to in May, easily and often into the 20s.

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    Posted
  • Location: Home: Chingford, London (NE). Work: London (Central)
  • Location: Home: Chingford, London (NE). Work: London (Central)

     

     

     

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    Posted
  • Location: Shrewsbury
  • Location: Shrewsbury

    A very memorable winter, even if that 5-6th Feb snowfall was a bit of a disappointment here (a few areas got buried with 20cm+ while a lot had only 5-10 at most. The Oswestry/Wrexham area got loads as did Birmingham and apparently Blackpool and Lancaster right on the coast Here we only got about 6cm and I think a lot of other places near the lucky ones had similarly much lower amounts). The late Jan easterly gave snow that stuck from the 26-30th and December had 15cm at one point. March had a bit too around the 11-13th, again from the east. Where we did get very lucky here that year was we actually got snow from the event on 30th Dec that was forecast to blanket most of England and Wales but ended up as rain in many places.

    What I find strange about 95/6 and 96/7 from a UK point of view, having read a lot of reports and stats, is how little snow seems to have fallen in and around London. Both winters had easterlies of the kind that normally favour them, 95/6 had several, yet these winters had much more snow in the Midlands, Wales and the NW than down there. Had I lived down there I'm sure I'd have found both winters infuriating. I remember the ~5cm snow in London in Jan 2003 being said to be the most since 1994 and thinking surely 95/6 and/or 96/7 had at least that at some point, but it seems not.

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    Posted
  • Location: Whitehaven
  • Weather Preferences: Hot sunny Summers and cold snowy Winters
  • Location: Whitehaven

    Being based in West Cumbria once again I look in envy at forecasts of heavy snow in the East, especially as I remember epic winters from my childhood in Gateshead.  However many in West Cumbria will remember exactly 25 years ago on 5th/6th February 1996, for what has become known locally as The Big Snow, when about 20 hours of constant heavy fall resulted in over a foot of laying snow (even down to the edge of the lapping waves on Seascale beach) and drifts of 3 and 4 feet burying hundreds of abandoned cars across the space of a few miles.  The photo shows a spot in Whitehaven where Morrisons now stands.

    The Big Snow.jpg

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    Posted
  • Location: East Exeter, Devon
  • Weather Preferences: Sunshine, convective precipitation, snow, thunderstorms, "episodic" months.
  • Location: East Exeter, Devon

    Looking back at that 19 February 1996 forecast, I remember that despite the ridge of high pressure coming in and forecasts that the showers would increasingly be limited to the SE corner, a cluster of snow showers developed over north-east England on the evening of the 20th and topped up the snow cover in many areas.  I recall that after significant accumulations on the 19th, a thaw had set in along the Tyne and Wear coast overnight into the 20th so there wasn't much lying there on the 20th, probably due to a mix of sublimation and the strong wind off the relatively warm North Sea, but plenty by the morning of the 21st.

    I can't remember which forecast it was (it might be out there on YouTube, not sure) but there was one in early February 1996 referring to the possibility of significant snow coming in off the North Atlantic where John Kettley said, "The weather might run off the rails!"

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