TWO Buzz

Weather news and views from Brian Gaze.

Memorable weather

Posted Tue 5th September 13:10

I sometimes get asked about when I first became interested in the weather. The answer to that is probably as soon as I noticed it.

I'm also asked about the most memorable spells of weather I've experienced in the UK during my life so far. That's more difficult to answer but for a change I decided to put together a "greatest hits" list on Buzz.  I'll put them in chronological order and then pick the top three. If you want to add any contenders post comments below using your Facebook, Twitter or Google account.

Summer 1976

This was the first time the weather really made an impression on. Summer 1976 turned out to the longest and hottest one on record. I can recall going on holiday with my parents to Newquay, Cornwall. The sun blazed down almost uninterrupted which is quite an achievement in the south west of England.

The lack of rain become a major problem in the UK and the government appointed Denis Howell as "Minister for Drought" in late August.  It did the trick. Days after his appointment the rain started and the following months were very wet.



Burrator Reservoir July 1976

1976. The Incredible Heatwave

Winter 1978/79

The third coldest winter of the 20th Century. The nation was gripped by political and industrial turmoil, however it's the freezing conditions and blizzards which also swept the nation that I remember. The River Foss in York froze solid and I remember walking on it and trying to work out how thick the ice was. There were also several periods of snow and at one point the drifts in the fields I passed on the walk to school were as tall as me. (I was at primary school remember and to add insult to injury we had outdoor loos!) A mid February blizzard coincided nicely with my birthday. I stupidly decided that snow on my birthday must be the norm not the exception.

Snow in winter 1978/79


Clearing the snow in winter 1979 (provided by Adam Robinson)

Winter 1978/79 Readers photos part 1

Winter 1978/79 Readers photos part 2

April 1981

There seemed to be lots of interesting weather during this period and late April 1981 brought one of the most notable periods. On the 24th April I'd arranged to play cricket with friends but it had snowed overnight. It was well before the era of mobile phones so I got on my bike (appropriate for the times too) and cycled to the council field where we would play. By mid morning the snow was melting rapidly but it was a fun experience trying to bat with icy patches of snow half way down the wicket! As it happened the cold intensified and the following day (or perhaps the 26th) persistent outbreaks of snow dumped a covering of between 10cm and 15cm.

850hPa temperatures were about 10C below over much of the UK

A footnote to the story is I watched the week ahead weather forecast on Sunday 22nd April. It's 36 years ago so I hope you will spare me the details, but I seem to remember it flagged up the likelihood of unusually cold winter developing in the week ahead. As a result I bravely mentioned to someone at school that snow was on the way and I got ridiculed for it!

April 1981 snow

Readers photos from the winters of the 1980s (includes one from April 1981)

December 1981

There were several cold winters during this period but December 1981 was an exceptional month. After a mild start winter quickly set in and lasted until shortly after Christmas. Despite having quite a lot of snow in York I think parts of the south were hit harder. January 1982 brought another bitterly cold spell of weather but I can't recall snow in my back yard. We often seemed to miss out. Whenever I heard reports on the radio about roads blocked by snow they always seemed to be in west Yorkshire, the Pennines, the south, the north... everywhere but York! At least that's what I remember.

PS: December 1981 was the coldest on record in the UK until 2010.

July 1983

At the time it turned out to be the hottest month on recorded when measured by Central England Temperature (CET). Despite that single day extremes weren't notable with 33.7C at Liphook, Hampshire the highest I can find. Summer 2017 brought higher values and in September 2016 34.4C (92.8F) was recorded at Gravesend, Kent. My main recollection of July 1983 is watering the vegetables in my parents garden. I hope there wasn't a hosepipe ban in force! The other strange thing is that many summer months during the early and mid 1980s were cool and quite unsettled so this was a massive contrast.

Next time...

So that concludes my first five. Next time I'll continue the journey through the mid 1980s and into the 1990s. 


Your comments

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Add chart. Must be from TWO forecast models

brian.gaze 9 months ago
I've read about the snow in June 1975 but unfortunately I have no recollection of it.

Sharp Green Fox 9 months ago
Yes. I think your observations are very accurate, these are also my memories. The week before the cold snap in April 1981 was Easter and the weather was warm, no wonder you were ridiculed for predicting snow. 1975 was an interesting year, snow in Jun


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