The North East of England was taken a little by surprise on Friday morning, the 8th January 2021.
An area of rain had approached from the North West and turned to snow after midnight. Some places received 8-10 hours of continuous snow.
Depth increased dramatically with altitude. In Durham City we had only 2-3 inches of snow, but in some of the hillier parts of County Durham snow depths of 6-10 inches were common, especially high ground to the south of the region.
Here are some photographs of my own and taken by friends on social media today. Enjoy!
Above is the scene from the Bandstand by the River Wear in Durham on Sunday 23rd August 2020. The heavy deluge dropped 9mm of rain in 10 minutes on Durham and it’s surroundings. That’s a rate of 54mm per hour, which is a proper dowpour.
In the town, the narrow streets were rapidly turned into rivers and driving visibility was virtually nil.
Just had this photo sent of the incredible sunset of 26th April. The sun was setting under a shallow cloud cover and it produced this red sunset and double rainbow. The cloud produced the first measurable rain for 2 weeks, in what looks destined to be one of the driest Aprils on record in Durham.
The driest April was in 1938. This month only received 2mm of rainfall.
After spending a fair bit of time concentrating on the wind speeds, we sort of forgot about the rain that Storm Ciara was going to deliver. Thankfully we missed some of the squall lines that hit further south. My total for rainfall was only 22.9mm, but obviously far more fell on the catchment areas on the Pennines.
A walk to the riverside was needed and as I was coming down from Gilesgate I decided the best way was the pathway that goes directly to the river down past Hild and Bede College.
When I got there, the water was already over the riverside path in both directions.
To my amazement, there were still people trying to jog along the riverside paths! They were using the little levee between the path and the raging river, with all it’s little hidden dips and gaps that are there to catch the unwary. This guy sensibly swapped onto the path and just got his feet wet.
Two kids then came along on their pushbikes. They at least stopped where I was and asked me if I thought it was safe to go on. I explained that it got deeper heading towards Baths Bridge. One of them tried and turned back when it got axle-deep. I wasn’t joking! Once their pedals were underwater it was impossible to pedal anywhere.
A near fatal accident involving the river
I then witnessed something so stupid that I only realised afterwards that we could have had another river fatality on our hands. However it does explain why so many supposedly intelligent people manage to end up in the River Wear.
A girl (a student I think) approached from the rowing club direction. She had a rucksack on and she’d decided she was going to just walk along the grass levee. Unlike the jogger in the photo above, she didn’t fancy getting her feet very wet on the path, so chanced walking the line on the levee, two feet from the raging river. This all took place about 30 yards to my left.
Unknown to her, and concealed by the water, was one of those little muddy ‘chutes that wildlife use. She stepped down Into it and then fell over. She was up to her waist in water, right on the edge of the river. If she’d over-balanced because of the rucksack, she’d have been swept away. It could have even pulled her in, so strong was the current. Somehow, she managed to haul herself back out. How dim can you be????
A lucky escape and as she came past me, dripping wet, she still seemed quite oblivious to the fact that she’d come so close to losing her life. I really do despair sometimes about how little common sense people have. 😳
River Peaked at 3.05m
The river finally peaked at 3.05m. That is about 2.6m above normal.
After a late night of revelling, we decided it would be a good idea to go for a walk and get some fresh air. The obvious choice was to head down across the Silver Link Bridge and on into Pelaw Wood, then down to the river and into the City.
It was a nice, crisp winters day, with plenty of sunshine. Durham looked good and everyone seemed in good spirits. We ended up in the Food Pit drinking Americano Coffee. Much needed.
The northern part of the county saw it’s first real snow of the winter on 12th December. It was confined to high levels, but gave a good covering in the high Pennines. Here’s a photo from twitter from the top of Killhope.
More photos from a friend of mine Barry Wilkinson who went skiing in Weardale.
Some amazing shots this morning of the sunrise from Wharton Park, with Durham Cathedral silhouetted against the fiery skyline. The day soon turned into a blustery one with showers and gusty westerly winds.
Pictures here are courtesy of Kevin Edworthy. Many thanks Kevin for allowing me to use these.
Some nine years ago, we were in the grip of one of the most severe spells of weather to occur in the month of December for over 100 years. Around Durham, snowfall was very deep. Here’s a selection of photos taken by Gary Tidbury of the conditions around Framwellgate Moor in Durham.