DURHAM WEATHER FORECAST
Durham Weather Forecast for The Next 7 Days

The Time Traveller : January 25th 1947

The harsh realities of the brutal winter of 1946-47 are chronicled here in a writeup of The Time Traveller clipped from the Northern Echo some time in the 1980s

The churches worry about war-devastated Germany, but most people say that Britain has enough to do in feeding herself. Rationing is worse than in the war – dwindling allowances of basic foods, “points” for others, coupons for clothes and since last July even bread, which has not been rationed before.

We are exhorted to export more, or expect still lower living standards and industry is short of coal. Mr. Atlee’s Labour Government is sadly handicapped in it’s attempt to inaugurate a new era of social welfare and industrial change, including nationalisation of industries like mining, which has been run by a National Coal Board since New Year’s Day.

The Weather looks ominous indeed

Now even the weather looks ominous. Indeed, the last twelve months has been the wettest for a generation, a wintry snap came before Christmas, and the New Year has been very wet; but a very cold easterly air current now covers the country. The first snow fell in midweek – accompanying a forecast of “Bread ration may be cut, less bacon and home meat, beer supplies to be halved immediately” – and today has fallen more generally. Tonight a wintry weekend is setting in.

FA Cup ties were played today in icy winds, and road accidents in one small area of County Durham have included a bus turning over near Bishop Auckland, injuring two of 30 passengers, and a Richmond couple injured when their car collided with a lorry near Bildershaw Bank; and tonight a car and lorry have collided on The Great North Road between Ferryhill and Chilton.

A boy of six and his eight year old sister have drowned in sliding on a frozen pond in Shropshire, and two boys aged eight and fourteen in a Berkshire pond.

Ten feet deep on the North York Moors

By tomorrow night the snow drifts will be six to ten feet deep on the North Yorkshire Moors, along with heavy snow in many other parts of the country, and gales along the East Coast and English Channel, with the wildest day for years in the Straits of Dover, snow on Hastings beach and the heaviest fall for three years at Falmouth in Cornwall.

Despite what it portends, however by Monday the weather will not yet displace such news as the breakdown of Anglo-Egyptian treaty negotiations, and the kidnapping of a judge and an Army officer by jewish terrorists in Palestine. Today, the gangster Al Capone has died in Florida, to which he retired in 1939 after his release from eight years prison for income tax evasion. This is also a weekend of air accidents.

Apart from a Hong Kong report of £1m in gold scattered down a hillside, with a Dakota’s crew of four dead, a Dakota crashed today on take off at Croydon, killing half of it’s two dozen occupants, and a Mosquito came down in a field near Kirkby Fleetham Hall, killing two pilots from RAF Leeming; and tomorrow a Dutch Dakota is to crash after take off in Denmark, killing six crew and sixteen passengers including the eldest son of the Crown Prince of Sweden and film star and opera singer Grace Moore.

A Literary star is to rise in The North East next Thursday with publication of a book of short stories by the young Ferryhill miner Sid Chaplin, who has already received the Atlantic Award for Literature.

The whole country paralysed

By then, the whole country will be paralysed. On Wednesday, there will be 14ft drifts in Essex and 16 degrees of frost that night in London, after gas and electricity cuts during the day, with most of it’s commuters snowbound at home for days to come.

The snow this weekend heralds a nightmare of continuous snow and frost, lack of coal made worse by frozen roads and railways, and colliers stormbound in the Tyne, power stations closing down and, by the end of the week after next, two million people out of work.

Surviving wartime regulations allow the government to fobid electric fires between set hours of morning and afternoon, to ban greyhound racing and suspend television and radio’s Thid Programme, and cut London transport. In the coldest February for over half a century, in snow, in worn clothes and leaking footwear, people are to find themselves trying to revive “wartime spirit” in a “Fuel Dunkirk”, collecting gasworks coke in prams and sacks and queueing for candles. A failure of the national grid and a total blackout will be barely averted in a fortnight’s time.

Slight improvement, then more snow in March

By mid-February, there will be a slight improvement but after a slight thaw and a fog blanket, snow is to return as March comes in, renewing the  nightmare. Much of the land will be under an ice cap of snow old and new – a compacted six feet and more in Upper Teesdale and elsewhere – when milder air begins to creep in from the south west.

As the snow slowly melts, the soil remains icebound, vast lakes spread; and a gale on March 16th – ironically the first day of British Summer Time by the clocks – will precipitate a flooding disaster, while Scotland and Northern England are still an Arctic wilderness, York will see it’s worst flood since 1831.

For nearly eight weeks, snow is to fall somewhere every day, with most of the country snow-covered after this weekend. As April arrives with Easter, there will again be blizzards in the North Midlands and snowploughs out in the Peak District. Some sodden land will not re-emerge until May or June. After that, a hot summer is to bring droughts.

February 1991 – A very snowy episode!

I was rooting about in the loft the other day and came across an old logbook of mine from when I lived in Ferryhill. It covered the period of late 1990 and early 1991. Immediately I took interest because there was a memorable period of heavy snowfall in February 1991. What is striking was that snow was 15” deep on 9th and 10th. I know I took some photos at the time, but can’t find them now unfortunately.

Here’s the page from the log.

my weather logbook showing the severe and snowy spell

As you can see, there was an air frost every night for the first 19 days. This sequence actually extended a lot further back into January 1991. There were actually air frosts every night from 21st January until 19th February. There were 24 air frosts in all in January.

February 1991 averaged 2.0 degC and January 1991 was only slightly warmer at 2.1 degC. As you can see, the last few days of February lift the average considerably, hiding what was quite a severe month, especially from 4th-14th.

This is really a forgotten winter for most people. Do you remember it?

First real snow of winter 2019-20

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 great photos of the severe December 2010 weather

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.

Even the Bin Wagon got stuck

A great example of an Ice Spike

A good mate of mine just posted these extraordinary photos on Facebook of an ‘Ice Spike’.

“This morning I had never heard of an ice spike and if I had ever seen one, would have had no idea what it was and shrugged it off as something strange. A post on another site had a photo of one happening in the great outdoors of Northumberland along with an explanation of the strange event. That reminded me that yesterday, in my small beaker used for inaccurate assumptions of rainfall measures, I had noticed a frozen stick shape protruding above the top. It must have been 6-8 cm long. I shrugged it off, wrongly presuming that by chance (a million to one ?) an icicle had fallen from the roof some 4 feet away and several higher and landed, unbroken in the beaker !?! On reading said post, I went outside to find this …”

Michael Simmons, Newton Aycliffe

Freezing Decembers – They really are very rare in the UK

picture of the Frozen River Wear December 2010

When December 2010 came along, it was a complete shock to the system. There had been no below freezing December (average below 0.0 degC) since 1890. That’s 120 years. These are temperatures from the CET series (Central England Temperature).

Records in the CET go back as far as 1659.

So, let’s look at those sub-zero December years. The first is December 1676 (mean temp -0.5 degC). Back then, the temperatures were only recorded to the nearest half degree and there aren’t any daily temperatures available to me, so I can’t really embellish that too much other than say, imagine a below-freezing month when there were no heated houses. Brutal stuff.

Next in the list, after a big gap of 112 years, is December 1788 (-0.3). This time, daily temperatures are also available. December 1788  was generally cold throughout, but especially severe from the 12th to 23rd. There was a short milder period lasting only Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, before severely cold conditions returned between Christmas and New Year.

There was only a short few years before the next one in December 1796 (-0.3). This month contained the coldest ever Christmas Day (-10.8 degC). Again, there were two really cold spells : the start of the month until 11th December, and then around the Christmas period (20th-27th). The weather warmed up again towards the New Year.

Moving into the ‘Dickensian’ period, when snowfall became popularised on Christmas cards, the next sub-zero month was December 1874. This month averaged just below freezing at -0.2 degC. The first 13 days were on the chilly side at an average of 2.1 degC, before the really bitter weather set in after that until the end of the year. The period 14th-31st December averaged -2.0 degC, which is incredible for an 18 day period.

Another ‘Dickensian’ winter produced the next freezing cold December, just four years later in December 1878 (-0.3). This month, and the following January produced the third example of consecutive freezing months in the record (after Jan and Feb 1684, Jan and Feb 1740, before it happened again for a fourth time in the winter of 1962-63). In December 1878, the severe spell was slap bang in the middle of the month. The period 9th-26th December averaged -2.8 degC. By New Years Eve, it was up to a balmy 10 degC before the January deep-freeze regained it’s grip into the New Year.

And so to December 1890 (-0.8 degC). The last sub-zero December before 2010. The month was severe from the 9th until the year’s end. This period averaged -1.9 degC. The coldest day was 22nd December at -6.5 degC. December 1890 was actually the coldest December on record, closely followed by December 2010 (-0.7 degC).

Coldest December Days (1659 to date)

25th December 1796 -10.8 degC

12th December 1981 -8.5 degC

27th December 1798 -8.4 degC

28th December 1798 -8.2 degC

17th December 1859 -7.7 degC

31st December 1783 -7.1 degC

18th December 1859 -7.1 degC

20th December 2010 -7.0 degC

24th December 1870 -6.9 degC

19th December 2010 -6.8 degC

As can be seen, most of the extreme temperatures fell in the freezing months, the exceptions were in 1981 (a very cold month with a colossal amount of snow that just missed out on sub-zero status at +0.3 degC), December 1798 (a short exceptionally cold spell from Christmas Eve to the 29th), December 1859 (a short, very wintry spell between 13th and 19th), December 1783 (very cold immediately after Christmas) and 1870 (very cold in the last third of the month).

December 2010 was arguably the most remarkable of them all, because it occurred during the current warming trend, whilst the others were in the more traditionally accepted Maunder Minimum and Dickensian winters which were much colder on average anyway.

When will the next one be? It may not be in our lifetimes, or it may be in a couple of years, there’s really no way of knowing. However, Exacta Weather and The Daily Express seem to think it will occur every year! 😏

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