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Weather news and views from Brian Gaze.
Here I'll conclude my list of memorable periods of weather that I have experienced in the UK. If you missed the first two parts here they are:
Memorable weather (Part 1)
More memorable weather (Part 2)
In spring 1995 I relocated from the north east of England to London for work reasons. As the summer set-in one of the things I noticed was how much warmer it is in the south. Being very busy and in a completely new environment I hadn't realised just how exceptional the summer was turning out to be. For a while I stupidly thought that all summers must be like this in the south. One of the downsides was having to wear a suit every day and take the tube to the City where I was working for an Investment Bank.
The statistics show that summer 1995 was only sightly cooler than the record breaking 1976. The mean temperatures for June, July and August in England and Wales was 16.6C compared to 16.9C. Temperatures peaked at 35C (95F) on the 1st August. I don't remember individual days but I know that in London the blowtorch heat seemed to go on and on. What a contrast with the previous few summers that I'd spent in the north east!
By this point I was living in Ealing, West London. I enjoyed my time there but I concluded that it is one of the most snowless places imaginable. Cold spells during the 1990s and 2000s were rare in comparison with the late 1970s and first half of the 1980s. Despite that December 1995 was a cold month with a Central England Temperature (CET) of 2.3C. There wouldn't be a colder December until the record breaker in 2010.
Unfortunately there was very little snow in Ealing. However I had friends living in the Chilterns and we decided to meet up for a meal one evening. I took the train from London Euston where it was cold and damp. By the time we reached Berkhamsted (only about 26 miles northwest) snow was falling and accumulating. I quickly decided this must be an excellent place to live (snow not my only reason to be honest) and that view was reinforced when I returned to rain and sleet in Ealing a few hours later. I immediately decided I'd buy a property in Berkhamsted and move there. I did and have lived here ever since.
However the main course of winter 1995 was still to come. Just before Christmas I drove up to my parents house in Hunmanby on the East Coast. A cold spell set-in and rain progressively turned to snow. On the morning of December 25th it started snowing and didn't stop until Boxing Day. The level snow depth was about 30cm. The cold stayed around for a few days and there were further snow showers. I had to drive to York on the 27th (I think) and can remember the snow becoming thinner as I headed inland. By the time I reached Malton (about half way) there was no snow at all.
Into the TWO era, settled in Berkhamsted and married (not necessarily in that order). This was the best summer I've experienced. I was too young to fully appreciate 1976 and too stressed at work to make the most of 1995. The statistics show that 2003 was comparable to both of those summer and this time I was able to enjoy it in full.
By John Douglas, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link
There was an ironic footnote. On August 9th I'd gone on holiday to Venice. Unfortunately I had limited access to the Internet and wasn't fully aware of what was unfolding in the UK. It was only after returning that I discovered a new temperature record had been set and 100F reached for the first. Firstly 37.9C (100.2F) was registered at Heathrow and then Gravesend, Kent topped it with 38.1C (100.6F). What a summer that was!
After the seemingly endless run of mild winter 2008/09 broke the pattern but still there wasn't much snow where I lived. That changed the following year. In December 2009 a cold spell developed after mid month and the snow started to fall on the 17th. It snowed overnight and on the 18th I measured a level snow depth of 19cm in my garden. The next couple of days were very cold and then on the 21st a top up arrived and left another 15cm of snow on the ground.
Temperatures picked up in the following days but there was still some snow in the ground on Christmas Day. The cold returned in early January but at that point I was skiing in the Alps where it was bone-chillingly cold! Probably the coldest spell of weather I've experienced anywhere.
A record breaking month. The Central England Temperature (CET) was -0.7C making it colder than December 1981 and the first sub zero CET month since February 1986. Despite the statistics I can't get as excited about the month as many people do. In Berkhamsted it was often very cold and dry. There was one heavy snowfall which arrived on Saturday 18th December if memory serves me right. The cold lasted for Christmas Day when the maximum temperature I recorded was -1.4C (see image below). Thereafter temperatures quickly recovered and the rest of the winter passed off with barely a whimper.
Dec 17 to Dec 28, 2010, Berkhamsted weather summary
That concludes my run down. It's a subjective list. I've not included February 1986, July 2006 or March 2013 which were all produced some very interesting statistics. I've also not including any thundery spells because I can't recall one which was really memorable.
So which was the best? Next time I'll pick my all time top 3.
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