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Winter 2020-21 summary

Berkhamsted summary


26/02/2021

Winter 2020-21 near London

Berkhamsted is located in the Chiltern hills about 25 miles northwest of central London. The weather station reporting the data used here is situated at about 150m above sea level. Due to its relatively sheltered location statistics on wind speed are not discussed in depth, but they are available on the summary tables.

December

The first third of December brought some cold days but it then turned milder. Temperatures reached double figures on 9 days between the 13th and 23rd. The colder theme returned for Christmas and the lowest maximum temperature of December was on the 31st when 0.1C was the highest value reached.

Wet weather in December

Wet weather was plentiful in December

 

Despite the colder periods the month was virtually snowless, although on the 28th a few flakes were recorded.

The 27th was the wettest day with 13.4mm of rain and over the month as a whole a total of 73.6mm was recorded.

The mean temperature for the month was 5.1C.

December 2020 Berkhamsted weather summary
December summary table

January

The first 10 days of the month brought rather cold or cold weather but it remained snowless. The lowest maximum temperature was recorded on the 7th when 0.2C was reached. Between the 10th and 22nd it became mild and there was significant rainfall.

Snowy weather in January 2021
Wet snow on January 24th

 

Colder air returned on January 23rd and the heaviest snowfall of the winter occurred on 24th when approximately 8cm was measured. The snow fell with temperatures and dew points hovering around 0C so it was very sticky and wet.

January 2021 Berkhamsted weather summary
January summary table

 

The final days of the month saw mild and wet weather. On the 28th 11.9C was recorded making it the mildest day of January.

The mean temperature for the month was 3.4C.

February

The month brought big contrasts. After a mild start temperatures plunged on the 7th as an easterly flow became established.

The lowest maximum day temperature of the three months was recorded on the 8th when -1.1C was reached, making it the only ice day of the meteorological winter. Snow fell for much of the day but it was often light and despite the temperature remaining below 0C there was some melt. That may have been caused by a combination of latent ground heat and infrared radiation being reflected off the clouds.

The lowest overnight temperature of the winter, -5.1C, was recorded on the night of the 11th. The cold started to ease on the 14th and by the following day 12.3C was reached. 

Chart showing cold upper level air over the UK in February 2021
The chart shows a cold easterly flow

 

The rest of the month was mild. A notably high 16.2C was reached on the 24th. The final days saw it remain mild by the day but nights became chillier and frost returned.

February was drier than December and January with 38.7mm of rain recorded. 

Despite containing the coldest period it was the mildest month of three when taken as a whole. The mean temperature for the month was 5.2C.

February 2021 Berkhamsted weather summary
February summary table

 

Comparison with recent winters

Winter 2020-21 was both colder and wetter than the previous two. The mean temperature over the 3 month period was approximately 4.55C which compares to 6.35C in 2019-20 and 5.94C in 2018-19. However, winter 2017-18 was colder with a mean temperature of 3.96C.

Total rainfall was 207.9mm with 156.8mm in 2019-20 and 150mm in 2018-19. Rainfall in 2017-18 totalled 206.8mm.

Air frosts occurred on 28 days with 8 in 2019-20 and 20 in 2018-19. 

Despite the cold periods there wasn't a lot of snow. The only significant fall happened in the space of a few hours on  Sunday, 24th January when a depth of approximately 8cm was recorded. The cold period in February brought a covering which mostly lasted for several days, but its maximum depth was close to 1.5cm.

Summary

The mean temperature of 4.55C over the meteorological winter was close to the average. The 1981-2010 Central England Temperature mean is approximately 4.47C and covers a roughly triangular area of the United Kingdom enclosed by Lancashire, London and Bristol. 

The winter was quite wet but not particularly windy.

A subjective view is that despite the winter being colder and wetter than recent ones it was quite non-descript. It didn't produce a cold spell of note with the February one resulting in much less snow and higher temperatures than those which occurred in 2018, 2013, 2010 and 2009. A note to add is that areas further north, and some parts of Kent and the far south eastern corner all saw a lot more snow and experienced more severe conditions.

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