Readers photos from the winters of 1947 and 1963

Introduction
Two of the most notable winters of the 20th century occurred in 1947 and 1963. Both brought exceptional and prolonged cold spells to the UK with widespread snow cover which persisted for weeks with little of it thawing. By the standards of recent years it does seem extraordinary to think that this sort of thing can happen in Great Britain. We’re very lucky to have been sent by readers of the site some fantastic original photographs from both of these winters, and they do help to illustrate what conditions back then really were like. So a massive thank you to Pete Scott, June Stone and Gordon Nicoll for sending in these pictures.

Winter 1947 overview
Many people consider the winter of 1947 to be the worst of the 20th Century. Although December 1946 was colder than average it was nothing exceptional and early January brought some relatively mild weather. Things really changed during the third week of January as high pressure built over Scandinavia. This allowed bitterly cold air to flood right across western Europe and to persist for 2 months with hardly a break. Unlike the great winter of 1963, 1947 was particularly snowy as low pressure areas tracked further south than usual bringing blizzards instead of rain to much of the UK. When milder weather finally broke through in late March devastating floods developed as the snow melted rapidly.


February 5th, 1947 - Bitter cold with high pressure to the north, low pressure to the south 
This chart is the property of the Royal Meteorological Society.

Readers photos
A massive thank you to the readers who sent us photos from the winters of 1947 and 1963. It really is great to see them, and because they occured before the days of digital cameras they really are extra special!

Goosnargh,  Lancashire

Photo provided by Pete Scott

Goosnargh,  Lancashire

Photo provided by Pete Scott

Goosnargh,  Lancashire

Photo provided by Pete Scott

Winter 1963 overview
The winter of 1963 was the coldest of the 20th century, although it was drier and less snowy than 1947. The weather patterns begun to change during the second half of December as high pressure built to the east of the UK cutting off the normal flow of weather systems from the Atlantic.. However, the real change took place on Boxing day in 1962 as a cold front moved down from the arctic and pressure rose rapidly over Greenland. December finished on a bitterly cold and wintry note, and this theme persisted for almost all of January and February. The Central England Temperature (CET) average for both months was below 0C, making 1963 the only winter during the 20th century to record two months with an average temperature of below 0C.

Readers photos
June Stone on the frozen River Medway

Photo provided by June Stone

Road dug out of the snow in 1963

Photo provided by Gordon Nicoll

Road dug out of the snow in 1963

Photo provided by Gordon Nicoll


Issued 22/11/2007, © Brian Gaze

Previous news reports

Winter 2013/14 initial thoughts
Winter 2012/13 initial thoughts - Update 28/10
Winter 2012/13 initial thoughts
Winter 2011/12 initial thoughts
Oregon Scientific WMR180
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Winter 2009/10 summary review
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Winter 2009/10 early thoughts
Add a forecast to your web site - Part 2
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