In this video we take a look at the science behind 5 of the weirdest weather phenomena.
Also known as dust devils, Willy willys are whirlwinds that can reach over 1000 feet in height. It is the dust and debris that get caught within them that makes them visible. They mainly occur in desert and semi-arid areas, where the ground is dry and high surface temperatures produce strong updrafts. In Navajo culture, willy-willy were thought to be the ghosts or spirits of the dead
A Brocken spectre is the large magnified shadow of an observer, cast onto clouds or mist. They are most often seen on mountain tops, when a person stands above cloud level. They can create the illusion of a giant shadowy figure seen dimly through the mist. Shifting water droplets in the cloud or mist can also make the shadow appear to move. Often the spectre will be combined with a circular ‘glory’, appearing as a rainbow halo around the shadow’s head.
Usually formed behind hills or mountains, where the air is stable and winds at different heights are blowing from a similar direction. The wind is interrupted, the airflow undulates and condenses into these disc-shaped clouds. They can sometimes be seen as far as 60 miles downwind of the mountains that formed them. They are also believed to be one of the most common explanations for UFO sightings.
Visible in the sky in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres, usually near the poles, auroras are mysterious and beautiful natural light shows. They are caused by collisions between electrically charged particles released from the sun and gas molecules such as oxygen and nitrogen in the Earth’s atmosphere. Many cultures have myths relating to aurora – In Finland it was believed that the lights were caused by the firefox, who ran so quickly across the snow that his tail caused sparks to fly into the night sky.
Haboob began as a name for intense dust storms over the Saharan desert, coming from the Arabic word meaning “strong wind”. It is now often used to describe powerful dust storms that occur in arid regions throughout the world. Haboobs can grow to be around 10,000 feet high and the strongest can travel over 100 miles. They are caused by strong wind, flowing down and out from thunderstorms or strong showers. These strong winds stir up a thick wall of dust, which can move at up to 60 mph.
Most of us see clouds every day, but only very occasionally will you be lucky enough to spot one of these 7 particularly rare types – some of which can only be seen in very specific circumstances or locations.
One of the rarest and most beautiful of all cloud types. They are found at very high altitudes – up to around 250,000 feet Visible on clear, summers nights between 45 °N and 80°N latitude ,they appear illuminated by a blue or occasionally red or green light. We still do not know much about how they are formed, but they are thought to be made up of ice crystals.
They can sometimes be seen as far as 60 miles downwind of the mountains that formed them. An extremely rare phenomenon, where clouds form as a billowing wave pattern Occurs when there is a strong vertical shear between two air streams. This causes some winds to blow faster at the upper level, than at the lower level.
Bulge or pouch shaped, they’re usually seen emerging from the anvil at the top of cumulonimbus clouds. Formed by turbulence, they are one of the few clouds that come from sinking, rather than rising air.
Usually formed behind hills or mountains, where the air is stable and winds are blowing from a similar direction. These tall geographic features interrupt the wind, the airflow undulates and condenses into these disc shaped clouds.
Cone shaped clouds which extend from the cloud base, but never actually touch the ground. Formed in the same way as a tornado around a small area of intensely low pressure. If a funnel cloud reaches the land it becomes a fully fledged tornado and if the funnel cloud reaches the surface of a body of water, it becomes a waterspout.
Fallstreak Hole clouds
Also known as a hole punch cloud – they form when part of the cloud layer turns to ice crystals which are large enough to fall. Water droplets in the cloud, cooled below 0°C but not yet frozen, will freeze if they find a particle to freeze on to or are cooled to below -40°C. Aircraft can cause this to happen by making the air expand & cool as it passes through the cloud
Formed when warm air within a storm cloud is pushed up from the ground by the cold air exiting downwards. Unattached to the storm cloud they are known as roll clouds, but when attached they are called shelf clouds.
I’ve recently started creating videos on YouTube centred around Weather, and here’s the very first one that I put together – an awesome compilation of Aurora shots. We’re not quite far enough North to see the Northern Lights on a regular basis, but it shows itself occasionally when conditions are favourable. Anyhow, enjoy! Please like the videos and Subscribe to my channel if you want me to make more videos.
You’ll see much talk in the papers over the coming summer months of heatwaves. The daily rags describe any thing remotely warm as a ‘heatwave’, but is there a strict definition of a heatwave?
This Met Office video sheds some light on it.
“A heatwave is an extended period of hot weather relative to the expected conditions of the area at that time of year, which may be accompanied by high humidity, but what is the definition for a UK heatwave?”
This was a video produced by Channel 4 in 2007, supposedly debunking Global Warming/Climate Change. Discussion ensued on The North East Forum at the time. This was in 2007 and the warming has got worse since then. It’s an interesting discussion and fairly typical of arguments at the time. Here’s a transcript.
I notice the people who were involved in the film are respected scientists who are not afraid to delve into historic fact to prove their theories! Something that the ‘we are to blame for global warming’ mob seem to avoid at all costs. Just visit a site which has discussions on the subject and notice how often the mention of the last ice age seems to kill the thread without fail.
Durham Weather :
I haven’t watched it all the way through yet, but noticed that at least one of the scientists featured is Piers Corbyn. He’s portrayed in the film as one who bets on his weather forecasts based on solar data and gets it right all of the time. That’s not true, his forecasts are at times woeful and often wrong, no better than chance. He has also flatly refused to have any of his methods tested by his peers, so is regarded as a bit of an eccentric and chancer. I’ve actually met Piers, he’s a nice man, but isn’t regarded very highly in Meteorological circles.
Also, it seems that other bits of evidence are being ignored in the film to illustrate the point they’re trying to make. Lots of fancy 3D graphs, but not a lot of science. Graphs axes have been vastly expanded to make correlations look ‘nailed on’, when in fact only tenuous correlations exist in reality.
One thing i’ve learned about climate change is that everyone seems to have an opinion about it, even though they probably have no great understanding of climatic processes, oceanography or the chemistry involved. They form their opinion based on the media’s distorted reporting of it (both sides). My own view? Climate Change is occurring and man is contributig to it. It’s not a vast contribution in the scale of things, but it seems to be making the difference in the speed of change, on top of natural warming, which nature is struggling to cope with. It makes sense to conserve our finite resources, and pouring oil on the fire doesn’t seem a sensible thing to do into the future. It makes sense to try to operate in a way that might help mitigate the change rather than adding to it’s magnitude.
You don’t need to be an eminent scientist with a research grant, I can see the warming in the data from Durham University. It’s quite plain to see. To deny it exists is just stupid. It’s not all due to humans, that isn’t the claim at all, but it is however something we should be worried about and try to prepare ourselves for and reduce if possible. Politicians of course see it as another way to tax us further into oblivion, a fact that we should despise them for. They should offer incentives, not punitive taxes to make life more of a misery than it already is for some people.
I watched the entire thing; my interest is chiefly in the communications angle. Some well-tried-and-true devices at work here, some done well and others quite clumsy. Some made me laugh out loud, for instance the background music (strings for the ‘bad science,’ piccolos for the ‘good science’) but overall it was quite an effective vehicle for the propaganda it carries.
Examined carefully, its thesis is that carbon dioxide is not a major cause of global warming, but the presentation purports that global warmng is a hoax — in fact not a single scientist agreed with that, but it was well glossed over.
Question everything. It’s how science works.
Ok! what about the global warming that ended the last ice age?
Durham Weather :
What about it?
Why did it not lead to catastrophic events that are predicted by todays scientists for the present global warming which they blame on human activity! Was global warming 10`000 years ago down to industry (foraging was about the largest industry at the time)or was it something more natural and less fantastic as we are lead to believe?
By the way Durham Forum, your reply above is quite fallible.
Durham Weather :
I’d be more than happy if you could demonstrate the fallability for me. How much do you know about climate science, astronomy and oceanography?
Not that much but the question of historic global climatic changes still seem to be shunned.
Durham Weather :
Before being led astray by the media and Channel 4 (on both sides of the argument), get a copy of ‘Climate, History and the Modern World’ by HH Lamb and read it. All of the reasons for variations in climate both past, present and future are covered. It was published in 1982, before climate hysteria descended upon us. It’s not a simple relationship like the C4 programme tried to put over, and the peculiar arrangements of Solar cycles, orbital changes, ocean current heat transport changes, prevailing wind, sea ice, Volcanic dust levels, proximity to permanent ice sheets and all such things need to be taken into account too. Feedback loops exist when some of the inputs are altered, before a new steady state of climates is established. Most of the feedback loops are positive ones, adding to the warming. It’s not as simple as just saying CO2 follows temperature, nor the other way round. If this was the only relationship that was important in atmospheric physics, the world would have lost it’s breathable atmosphere long ago. CO2 is important because it changes the way the atmosphere manages it’s heat budget; even the small quantities that it is present at in the atmosphere. Water vapour and methane are also greenhouse gases, and would also contribute positive feedback to any increase in temperature. In short, it’s far more complicated and can only really be modelled on a computer. Our best understanding at the moment is that human activity contributes to the overall warming. It’s small at the moment, but it will become a bigger and bigger influence in future if we continue to add CO2 to the atmosphere at the rate we are at now.
The theory of Cosmic Rays/Solar variation being the driving factor that was presented in the programme has never been proved by anyone. Drawing a few graphs isn’t science. You have to prove your postulated theory for it to become accepted as fact, and Piers Corbyn has never done that i’m afraid.
Get one thing straight here! I am not asking the question about the history of climatic change for the first time! in fact I have been asking the question for years before i saw that video! and as yet the question about historic climatic change and why recent climatic change is different is still avoided.
Durham Weather :
It may be avoided in sensational TV programmes, but if you read the book I suggested you’ll see that in fact it hasn’t been. I think i’ve explained why the two situations are different. The concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is now approaching what atmospheric scientists suspect is a critical level. They’re getting nervous about it, and piling more into the atmosphere just doesn’t sound too sensible. Once that critical level is reached, it’s believed that abrupt and sudden climatic changes may occur, before a new steady state of climate is reached. The new steady state may take some time to arrive though, with climatic turmoil in the meantime. One of the consequences is that European temperatures may drop 4-5 degC, perhaps in a 25 year time span. This type of thing probably happened in the past when ice-ages occurred (a cooler spell, the Little Ice Age. occured after the Mediaeval Warm period mentioned in the C4 programme, this was put down to the Maunder minimum sunspot period, but may have been due to a change in ocean/wind circulation). Global Warming may well result in Local Cooling for some. If it were to occur in Europe it would have catastrophic effects. Harvests would fail, food would be rationed, populations would migrate south, causing pressures elsewhere, shortage of water would then become a problem too. Burying our heads in the sand and denying the holocaust is all well and good, but it doesn’t help in the least.
There may actually be bog-all we can do about the warming, but we can try to prepare for it’s effects, minimise the loss of life and make everyone aware of what is likely to happen. Or we can just pretend it doesn’t exist.
Forgive me for being argumentative but they also ranted on about the ozone layer and how we would also all be dying from skin cancer by the year 2000! I aint got skin cancer in 2007 and I don?t know anyone that has it.
Durham Weather :
If you moved to Australia you might find that incidences of melanoma have increased dramatically. The ozone hole was/is a southern hemisphere phenomenon, not a northern one (not anything like the same depletion anyway). Banning chlorofluorocarbons has had an effect and the ozone depletion is becoming less severe each year now, but there is a time lag before CFC’s are removed from the atmosphere and the hole is ‘plugged’ as it were. If nothing had been done, there would have been a huge explosion in skin cancers there (until the human body evolved to be more tolerant to UV light, but that might take 500,000 years or so).
So why did it happen down there when the northern hemisphere is the most industrialised and producing a lot more CFC`s by a long long way?
Durham Weather :
The atmospheres over the two poles are very different. Antarctica exists as a land mass, surrounded by water, whereas the north pole is essentially water that freezes in winter, surrounded by land. The height of the tropospheric boundary is also different in the southern hemisphere, as are the stratospheric cloud formations needed for the reactions to occur. It is thought that the southern circulation allows a deeper vortex over the pole (there isn’t as much land to disturb the flow, and it’s colder), so concentrations of CFCs are higher there. If you look at a map of the globe, the most land is in the northern hemisphere and the south is pretty much all water. It doesn’t really matter where on the globe the CFCs are produced, they will always migrate toward the poles, in the north the vortex is disturbed by land masses, and it isn’t as cold, in the south it isn’t, so higher CFC concentration and less ozone produced, hence a bigger ‘hole’.
Hang here a minute you have lost me! The Polar Regions effect the placement of ozone depleting gasses? Which CFC`s are metallic enough to migrate because of polarity?
Call me stoopid if you like.
Durham Weather :
It’s not a magnetic effect, rather one of atmospheric circulation. When I talk of ‘poles’ I don’t mean it in a ‘magnetic polarity’ kind of way. Sorry if I misled you there.
A new scientific study concludes that changes in the Sun’s output cannot be causing modern-day climate change.
It shows that for the last 20 years, the Sun’s output has declined, yet temperatures on Earth have risen.
It also shows that modern temperatures are not determined by the Sun’s effect on cosmic rays, as has been claimed.
Writing in the Royal Society’s journal Proceedings A, the researchers say cosmic rays may have affected climate in the past, but not the present.
“This should settle the debate,” said Mike Lockwood, from the UK’s Rutherford-Appleton Laboratory, who carried out the new analysis together with Claus Froehlich from the World Radiation Center in Switzerland.
Dr Lockwood initiated the study partially in response to the TV documentary The Great Global Warming Swindle, broadcast on Britain’s Channel Four earlier this year, which featured the cosmic ray hypothesis.
“All the graphs they showed stopped in about 1980, and I knew why, because things diverged after that,” he told the BBC News website.
“You can’t just ignore bits of data that you don’t like,” he said.
The scientists’ main approach on this new analysis was simple: to look at solar output and cosmic ray intensity over the last 30-40 years, and compare those trends with the graph for global average surface temperature, which has risen by about 0.4C over the period.
The Sun varies on a cycle of about 11 years between periods of high and low activity.
But that cycle comes on top of longer-term trends; and most of the 20th Century saw a slight but steady increase in solar output.
However, in about 1985, that trend appears to have reversed, with solar output declining.
Yet this period has seen temperatures rise as fast as – if not faster than – any time during the previous 100 years.
“This paper reinforces the fact that the warming in the last 20 to 40 years can’t have been caused by solar activity,” said Dr Piers Forster from Leeds University, a leading contributor to this year’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment of climate science.
The IPCC’s February summary report concluded that greenhouse gases were about 13 times more responsible than solar changes for rising global temperatures.
But the organisation was criticised in some quarters for not taking into account the cosmic ray hypothesis, developed by, among others, Henrik Svensmark and Eigil Friis-Christensen of the Danish National Space Center.
Their theory holds that cosmic rays help clouds to form by providing tiny particles around which water vapour can condense. Overall, clouds cool the Earth.
During periods of active solar activity, cosmic rays are partially blocked by the Sun’s more intense magnetic field. Cloud formation diminishes, and the Earth warms.
Mike Lockwood’s analysis appears to have put a large, probably fatal nail in this intriguing and elegant hypothesis.
He said: “I do think there is a cosmic ray effect on cloud cover. It works in clean maritime air where there isn’t much else for water vapour to condense around.
“It might even have had a significant effect on pre-industrial climate; but you cannot apply it to what we’re seeing now, because we’re in a completely different ball game.”
Drs Svensmark and Friis-Christensen could not be reached for comment.
My major problem with the whole Global Warming thing is the Scientists! (and the Labour Government of course, who attempt to use it as an excuse just to tax the f*ck out of us)
The reason I have trouble believing Modern Science is thus!
a) Scientists warned us that our VHS recorders, Computers and Microwave ovens were all going to explode on 1/1/00…And Aircraft would drop out of the skies! (bulls*it)
b) They told us that by the year 2000 one in three people in the world would have AIDS (bullsh*t)
c) They scaremongered about SARS wiping out the worlds population (bullsh*t)
d) They scaremongered about Bird Flu wiping out our native Birds etc (bullsh*t)
e) They scaremongered that eggs were full of Salmonella and would poison us (bullsh*t)
these are just ones that jump to mind!
I thought Science was about cold, hard FACTS
If the above is to be believed…thats (Bullsh*t) too
Science is a method; it has no opinions.
Gather the villagers … to the castle!
I am not going anywhere near the castle thank you! (that was invented by Science too)
Would it not be truer to say that the media said the above? To find out what the original report actually said would probably be quite difficult.
One of the things that worries me about our world today is that all our “information” comes through the media pipeline. Finding out “the facts” is hard work and all too often we don’t bother – or we give up.
Tessxvi?.. That is a very valid point.
I may have been the victim of the media circus…but then I am sure the Government are too (rather more than they care to admit)
This is archived content that used to be on the Met Office website, but isn’t anymore so I decided to resurrect it for posterity, adding my own comments and adaptions. It’s a page to refer to when people talk about the harsh winters of 1946-47 and 1962-63, the two UK winters that are used as benchmarks for how bad winter can get.
Rarely in the UK – or anywhere, for that matter – is a train completely buried in snow. But that’s exactly what happened on Dartmoor in March 1891 and in northern Scotland in January 1978. The winters that produced such phenomenal snowstorms were not, however, generally snowy – unlike the remarkable winter of 1947, the snowiest since 1814.
Fig 1: A car stuck in snow at Hebden Bridge – 1963
Since daily meteorological records began in Britain in the 17th century, there have been a number of severe winters. The coldest of all was probably 1684, when the diarist John Evelyn took a coach to Lambeth along the frozen River Thames. Frost Fairs were frequent as the flow of the Thames was restricted by the bridges, slowing it down and making it more susceptible to freezing over.
There was an exceptionally cold and protracted winter in 1739/40 when, between November 1739 and May 1740, snow fell on 39 days in the London area. January in both 1795 and 1814 were colder than January 1740, and the month of February in 1855, 1895 and 1947 were colder than February 1740.
England and Wales would have to wait 223 years for a winter as cold as 1740: this came in 1963.
But what was so remarkable about the 1739/40 winter however, is that the mean temperatures of both January and February were below freezing (0 °C) in the Midlands and southern England. The only other known instance of two successive months with mean temperatures below freezing took place in December 1878 and January 1879.
Before the brutal winter of 1962-63, there was also the equally notorious winter of 1946-47.
The serious snowfall in 1947
Although there were many shorter wintry interludes before Christmas in the winter of 1946-47, the ‘famous’ part of the winter didn’t really get going until the last third of January (see below).
From 22th January to 17th March in 1947, snow fell every day somewhere in the UK, with the weather so cold that the snow accumulated to a great depth. The temperature seldom rose more than a degree or two above freezing, which meant that very little melt occurred and snow just piled up, layer upon layer, until great drifts were everywhere.
There were several snowfalls of 60cm (2 ft) or more, and depths of level snow reached 150 cm (6 ft) in upper Teesdale and the Denbighshire Hills. Across Britain, drifts more than five metres (16 ft) deep blocked roads and railways. People were cut off for days. The armed services dropped supplies by helicopter to isolated farmsteads and villages, and helped to clear roads and railways.
The Calm Before the Storm
In mid January 1947, no-one expected the winter to go down in the annals as the snowiest since 1814 and among the coldest on record. After two cold spells that had failed to last – one before Christmas 1946, the other during the first week of January – the weather had turned unseasonably mild.
Fig 2: 0600 UTC on 31 January 1947. A low near the channel islands and high over southern Scandinavia, a typical pressure situation during the 1947 winter. Occlusion giving snow over southern counties of England.
During the night of 15-16th January, the temperature at Leeming in North Yorkshire didn’t fall below 11.7 °C. The following day, maximum temperatures close to 14 °C were recorded in Norfolk, Herefordshire and Flintshire. All this mildness was soon to change.
An area of high pressure moved northwards from France on 18th January. Two days later, the anticyclone was centred off north-west Norway. It then drifted south-east to southern Scandinavia, and dominated the weather over the British Isles for the rest of the month. The first night frost came on the 20th and the winter began in earnest on the 23rd, when snow fell heavily over the south and south-west of England. Even in the Isles of Scilly, a few centimetres of snow fell. The blizzard in south-west England was the worst since 1891; many villages in Devon were isolated.
1947’s Unrelenting harsh weather
The cold, snowy weather continued through February and into March. Any breaks in the cold weather were short-lived.
On no day in February 1947 did the temperature at Kew Observatory top 4.4 °C, and only twice in the month was the night minimum temperature above 0 °C
The mean maximum temperature for the month was 0.5 °C (6.9 °C below average) and the mean minimum was -2.7 °C (4.6 °C below average)
On 26 of the month’s 28 days, snow was lying at 0900 UTC
South of a line from The Wash to the River Dee, mean maximum temperatures were everywhere more than 5.5 °C below average and, in some places, more than 7 °C below average
Mean minimum temperatures were more than 4 °C below average everywhere in the south and south-west of England, and almost 6 °C below average in some places
February 1947 was the coldest February on record in many places and, for its combination of low temperatures with heavy snow, bore comparison with January 1814.
One notable feature of February 1947 was the lack of precipitation in parts of western Scotland. Because of the persistent anticyclonic conditions, some places that were normally very wet had no rain at all. A completely dry month in western Scotland is unusual. It was unprecedented in February.
Another unusual feature of February 1947 was the lack of sunshine in the Midlands and south of England – a complete contrast to the north-west of Scotland, where the weather was unusually sunny.
At Kew, Nottingham and Edgbaston, there was no sun on 22 of the month’s 28 days. At Kew, there was none at all from the 2nd to the 22nd. Hardly anywhere in the Midlands and southern England did the sunshine totals for the month exceed 40 per cent of the long term average.
When skies did clear, night-time temperatures plunged. A minimum of -21 °C was recorded at Woburn in Bedfordshire early on 25 February. Without the cloud, the month would almost certainly have been even colder than it was, certainly at night.
March 1947 : More snow, flooding and then gales
In some parts of the British Isles, snow fell on as many as 26 days in February 1947. Much of the snow was powdery and was soon whipped into deep drifts by the strong winds.
If February hadn’t been enough, March was even worse. In the first half of the month, there were more gales and heavy snowstorms.
Fig 3: The flooding of 1947
On 4th and 5th March, heavy snow fell over most of England and Wales, with severe drifting. On 6th March, drifts were five metres (16 ft) deep in the Pennines and three metres (10 ft) deep in the Chilterns. In some places, glazed frost occurred. On 10th and 11th March, southern Scotland had its heaviest snowfall of the winter, and the snowstorm reached the Scottish Highlands, where, on 12th March, drifts more than seven metres (23 ft) deep were reported.
Meanwhile, mild air with a temperature of 7-10 °C edged into the extreme south-west of the British Isles on 10th March, bringing rain. The ensuing thaw was rapid. By the evening of 11th March, vast areas of southern England were under water. After weeks of frost, the ground was frozen hard. The rain and meltwater couldn’t soak into the ground. Surface run-off was the only option.
The warm air spread northwards and eastwards. Meltwater from the Welsh mountains poured into the valleys of the Severn and Wye, flooding Herefordshire and Gloucestershire. The rivers of the English Midlands burst their banks. By 13th March, Fenland rivers were close to overspilling.
On 15th March, a deepening depression from the Atlantic approached the British Isles, bringing rain and severe gales. During the afternoon of 16th March, mean winds over southern England reached 50 knots, with gusts of 80-90 knots.
Buildings were damaged and waves were whipped up on floodwaters. In East Anglia, where the major rivers flow north-eastwards, the south-westerly wind drove water before it and waves pounded the dykes. Water levels rose and the dykes gave way. Most of the Fenland was inundated. Troops were called in, but they could do little to stop water pouring through the breached dykes.
River levels rose relentlessly. For example, the banks of the Trent burst at Nottingham on 18th March and hundreds of homes were flooded, many to first floor level. When floodwater reached the tidal part of the Trent, it was impeded by a high spring tide, and the whole of the lower Trent valley was flooded.
The floods in the West Country subsided after 20th March, but rivers continued to rise in eastern England. The Wharfe, Derwent, Aire and Ouse all burst their banks and flooded a huge area of southern Yorkshire. The town of Selby was almost completely under water. Only the ancient abbey and a few streets around the market place escaped inundation. Seventy per cent of all houses in the town were flooded.
Fig 4: Maximum and minimum temperatures Edgbaston, Warwickshire 15 Dec 1946-16 Mar 1947
The cold and snowy weather had, at last, ended, but the misery of the floods continued into the spring. And to make matters worse, the severe difficulties caused by the winter of 1947 were aggravated by the fuel and food shortages that remained after the Second World War.
1962-63 was the coldest winter since 1740
The winter of 1962/63 was the coldest over England and Wales since 1740. As in 1947, anticyclones to the north and east of the British Isles brought bitterly cold winds from the east day after day. As in 1947, depressions followed tracks to southward of the British Isles and their fronts brought snow to England, Wales and the southernmost parts of Scotland.
Mean maximum temperatures for January 1963 were more than 5 °C below average over most of Wales, the Midlands and southern England and in some places more than 7 °C below average. Mean minimum temperatures over this area were equally far below average. The story was much the same in February.
The winter began abruptly, just before Christmas in December 1962. The weather in the first three weeks of December was changeable and sometimes stormy, but not particularly snowy. From the 4th to the 6th December, London experienced its worst spell of fog since the Great Smog of 1952.
Ten days later, the weather was particularly wet and stormy, with a gust of 88 knots recorded at Blackpool during the night of 15/16th December, the strongest since records began there in 1946. The weather situation changed markedly on 22nd December. On the 23rd, high pressure extended all the way from the southern Baltic to Cornwall, bringing cold easterly winds to much of England and Wales.
A belt of rain over northern Scotland on Christmas Eve turned to snow as it moved south, giving Glasgow its first white Christmas since 1938. The snow belt reached southern England on Boxing Day and became almost stationary. The following day, snow lay five centimetres deep in the Channel Islands and 30 cm (1 ft) deep in much of southern England.
Fig 5: The start of the winter: the cold front that brought the snow to England on 26 December 1962. Chart for 0600 UTC on 26 December.
A blizzard over south-west England and south Wales on 29th and 30th December brought snowdrifts 6m (20 ft) deep. Villages were cut off, some for several days. Roads and railways were blocked. Telephone wires were brought down. Stocks of food ran low. Farmers couldn’t reach their livestock. Thousands of sheep, ponies and cattle starved to death in the fields.
From Boxing Day 1962 to early March 1963, much of England was continuously under snow. Unlike the winter of 1947, however, 1962/63 was sunnier than average in most parts of the area affected, considerably so in some places.
Manchester’s sunshine total for January was more than twice the average. Even in the south of England, where snow fell frequently, sunshine totals were above average in most places.
The most remarkable feature of the 1962/63 winter was not so much its snowiness as its coldness. The winter of 1947 was snowier than 1962/63, but not as cold.
In January 1963, there were 25 or more air frosts almost everywhere in southern England and south Wales. In February 1963, air frost occurred every night at Durham, and almost every night in the English Midlands. At several stations in southern England and south Wales, mean maximum temperatures were below 0 °C in January and little higher in February. Mean minimum temperatures were well below freezing almost everywhere in England, Wales and Scotland away from coasts. Extremely low temperatures were recorded – for example, a minimum of -22.2 °C was recorded at Braemar on 18th January.
Fig 6: Maximum and minimum temperatures Leckford, Hampshire 8 Dec 1962 – 9 Mar 1963
Lakes and rivers froze. Ice formed on harbours in the south and east of England. Patches of ice formed on the sea. Huge blocks of ice formed on beaches where waves broke and the spray froze. Coastal marine life suffered severely.
As in 1947, so it was in the winter of 1962/63: brief thaws occurred from time to time, and winter didn’t fully relax its grip before early March. In the last few days of February and the first few days of March 1963, sunny weather brought afternoon temperatures of 4 or 5 °C, but clear skies allowed temperatures to plummet at night. Frosts were moderate or severe.
At last, on 4th March, a mild south-westerly flow of air reached the British Isles. There was occasional rain that day in most parts of Britain, and further rain the following day in the west and north, this time prolonged. On 6th March, there was no frost anywhere in the British Isles and the temperature in London reached 17 °C – the highest since 25th October 1962.
The coldest winter over England and Wales since 1740, and the coldest over Scotland since 1879, had ended. With the thaw came flooding, but nothing like the scale of the 1947 floods. Soon after the winter of 1962/63, life returned to normal.
Description of the Davis Vantage Vue Weather Station.
The new Davis Vantage Vue weather station combines Davis’ legendary accuracy and rugged durability into a compact station. It’s very easy to set up and use (see the video below). The Davis Vantage Vue includes a sleek but tough outdoor sensor array and the distinctive LCD console. Its unique Weather Center function provides additional information on each weather variable being measured.
In addition, Davis has made Vantage Vue radio-compatible with the flagship Vantage Pro2 stations so you can mix-and-match most components. This is a fantastic feature because sometimes a mix of sensors will give you better coverage, or you may have old sensors lying around that you’d still like to use.
Home weather watching and gardening. The Vantage Vue is ideal for this, allowing you to measure the microclimates in your garden.
Schools and universities. Ideal for educational uses, where meteorology may be taught as part of the curriculum.
Marinas and vacation homes. Keep tabs on weather conditions that might effect safety and movement of vessels and while at sea.
Fire fighting and emergency response. In responding to alarms, it will be useful to know details of the local conditions to allow optimum response tactics.
Vantage Vue Specifications:
Updates every 2.5 seconds (up to 10x faster than the competition). The update speed can be vital if you are visually monitoring rapidly changing channels such as windspeed. It gives far more of a ‘real-time’ feel to the weather. The speed indicated will coincide with your roof slates rattling in the wind!
Wireless transmission up to 1000 ft. (300 m) is 3x farther than the competition. Wireless transmission distance gives so much flexibility if you need the sensors more remote from your Davis base station. This is in fact crucial to a correct weather station installation because the sensors need to be as far away as possible from buildings and obstructions that may modify the readings. By giving a greater range, the Davis Vantage Vue should ensure that doesn’t happen.
Records wind speed as low as 2 mph (3 km/hr) and as high as 150 mph (241 km/hr). That is a phenomenal range, and means the Davis Vantage Vue can be used in a greater range of extreme conditions. Gust speeds of 150mph are not recorded in low level locations in the UK. You can be safe in the knowledge that when the weather gets really wild, the Vantage Vue weather station will cope. In more extreme situations like direct hits from Hurricanes in the USA for example, the Davis Vantage may still function, but the structure it is fixed to may have blown away. It will probably be the least of your worries.
Solar-powered with stored energy backup. Although weather stations have been independent of power sources for a good while now, the bane of the installation has often been the need to change the sensor batteries. The Davis Vantage Vue gets round this by having a solar charged battery and a reserve that is trickle charged using the same source. It is unlikely that the sensors will not receive enough sunlight to keep them charged, the only place I can think of is if the installation is in the Arctic or Antarctic Circle where the sun isn’t visible for long periods. This obviously won’t happen elsewhere. Even in the cloudiest conditions you’ll still have enough juice to keep things going.
Easy-to-read, backlit LCD screen at 3″ x 4-3/8″ (8 x 11 cm). The LCD screen on the Davis Vantage Vue is easily big enough to read. Sometimes weather stations cram so much data onto a small screen making things impossible to read properly. Sometimes we just casually glance at the display to get a mental snapshot of conditions. The Davis Vantage Vue display makes sure this is always possible. The backlit screen is vital in low light and Davis has made sure it’s there for us.
Features: Displays indoor and outdoor temperature and humidity, barometric pressure, wind speed, wind direction, rainfall and more.
Sealed electronics in the integrated sensor suite provide protection against the elements. In some cheaper weather stations the weather gets into the electronics, typically after a few years out in the elements. Cracks develop, glue is compromised and the station will suddenly fail, leaving you with no data, or data that starts to be corrupted by compromised circuitry. Not so the Davis.
Glow-in-the-dark keypad for night viewing and domed buttons for better feel. Sometimes you just need to sneak a peek at your weather dashboard, especially if the weather you are interested in is going down in the middle of the night and you don’t want to disturb the rest of the house. The Davis Vantage Vue has a night viewing option, accesses by the LIGHT button to the top left of the keypad. The domed buttons are also so much more tactile and a keypress is so much more positive, getting rid of that ‘did I or didn’t I’ feeling.
Frequency-hopping spread spectrum radio for reliable data transmission. We see this kind of thing more often than not in Wifi router settings. The Davis will automatically look for and switch to a more reliable connection to it’s sensors if it detects that a particular channel is not giving optimum connectivity. This means you can be confident the base station is always using the strongest possible channel to get it’s data from the instruments. This is particularly useful if your installation is in an area that is particularly prone to radio noise, like a factory or other industrial site.
50 on-screen graphs for comparing current and past weather. That’s the versatility of the Vantage Vue console. Almost every combination of graphs are there for you as a standard part of the operating software.
22 alarms to warn of dangers such as high winds, possible flooding and more. One of the great facilities is to have audible alarms to alert you when you can’t be looking at the display.
Radio compatible with Vantage Pro2. This means you can use Vantage Pro2 sensors with your Vantage Vue weather station.
Optional WeatherLink software for extensive weather analysis and data storage. PC, Mac and Internet versions. All of the great onscreen information can be enhanced even further by interfacing with your computer. The Weatherlink software allows for the generation of monthly and yearly reports in standard NOAA format.
Davis Vantage Vue Overview of Console Video
Vantage Vue Technical Details
Product Dimensions 48.3 x 38.1 x 17.8 cm ; 3.18 Kg
Part number 6250
height 6 inches
length 14 inches
width 9 inches
weight 3.18 Kilograms
Material type Plastic
The Vantage Vue Keyboard
Use the keyboard to access and scroll through current and historical data for individual variables, set and clear alarms, enter calibration values, set up and view graphs, and view detailed weather information available for each variable.
The keyboard consists of 12 command keys and four navigation keys.
A weather variable or console command is printed on each command key. Just press a key to select the variable or function printed on that key.
Each command key also has a secondary function which is printed above the first row of keys or below the second row of keys. To select the secondary function, press and release 2ND and then immediately press the key for that function.
After pressing 2ND, the 2nd icon displays above the moon phase icon on the screen indicating that all secondary key functions are enabled. Keys resume normal operation after the icon disappears (about 7-8 seconds).
The + and – navigation keys along with the < and > navigation keys are used to select command options, adjust values, and to provide additional functions when used in combination with a command key.
An arrow appears next to the variable selected in the display.
In Current Weather Mode, the display shows the time and date, the likely forecast within the next 12 hours, current moon phase, and weather information for up to 8 different weather variables at a time. It also displays additional information pertinent to a selected variable in the Weather Center in the bottom right section of the console screen.
The Screen Display and Layout of Modes
Powering up the Vantage Vue console
The Vantage Vue console does not require the use of an AC adapter. You may use the included adapter if you wish, but three C-cell batteries (not included) should power a wireless console for up to nine months. You can use either of these or both together, with the batteries providing backup power for the adapter.
The console will display messages if any of your system’s batteries are low.
LOW CONSOLE BATTERIES: Replace the console batteries
LOW BATTERY TRANSMITTER (ID#): Replace the battery in your outdoor Integrated Sensor Suite (ISS) or any optional transmitting station you may have added.
Installing the Batteries
The battery compartment is located on the base of the main unit
The Davis Vantage Vue can also be powered with an AC mains unit which connects to the right hand side, in a recess just behind the main console. The manual warns not to use any other AC mains adapter as it may damage the unit.
Place the console in a location where the keyboard is easily accessible and the display is easy to read. For more accurate readings, follow these suggestions.
Avoid placing the console in direct sunlight. This may cause erroneous inside temperature and humidity readings and may damage the unit.
Avoid placing the console near radiators or heating/air conditioning ducts.
If you are mounting the console on a wall, choose an interior wall. Avoid exterior walls that tend to heat up or cool down depending on the weather.
Avoid positioning a wireless console near large metallic appliances such as refrigerators, televisions, heaters, or air conditioners.
The console antenna does not rotate in a complete circle. Avoid forcing the console antenna when rotating it.
Be aware of possible interference from cordless phones or other devices. To prevent interference, maintain a distance of 10 feet (3 meters) between the Vantage Vue console and a cordless phone (handset and base).
Using the Davis Vantage Vue Weather Station
The console LCD screen and keyboard provide easy access to your weather information. The LCD display shows current and past weather conditions as well as a forecast of future conditions. The keyboard controls console functions for viewing current and historical weather information, setting and clearing alarms, viewing and/or changing station settings, setting up and viewing graphs, and more.
The Vantage Vue Console has 5 different modes
All of these are explained in great detail in the manual, which is excellent.
Some Questions and Answers about the Davis Vantage Vue Weather Station.
Can the console be connected directly into the router via usb and if so, what size is the usb connection on the console end ?
No, the USB connection is only for connection of the console to a Windows PC. You would need a third part product such as Meteobridge and a receiver to allow this to read data directly from the weather station sensor suite.
Does this need the data logger to connect to a pc? or can you just use a usb cable to connect and view on cumulus or similar?
Hi, the original data logger was through a USB cable from the console to your PC. I had this system but found that sometimes the USB port went down (or some other glitch) and you would find the weather software ( I use Weather Display) wasnt up to date. Plus you had to leave your laptop on all the time if you wanted to send your date to Wunderground, Noaa, PWSweather etc. I found the solution. A company called prodata Sytems developed a Wifi solution. A small card fits into the Console port and it communicates with your internet router. It sends all the info to the external places and you dont need your pc running all the time.
Can the censor be fixed to the gable end of the house facing west where the prevailing winds come from?
Can be mounted anywhere on the house…the higher the better.The solar panel must point south to get the sun all day….rise in the east and set in the west.Just to let you know the whole unit freely moves to measure the wind from what ever direction it comes from
This is for anyone wanting to set up a weather station that is a) a little bit more robust and b) a little bit more professional, the Davis Vantage Vue is really the model you should buy. It is easy to set up, and get the sensors connected. It is reliable because of the wireless channel switching capability, and Davis is pretty much the industry standard now for amateur weather station technology.
(Durhamweather.co.uk will receive a fee if you order a Davis Vantage Vue through this link)
Heavy rain overnight on 16th March resulted in the River Wear rising to 2.36m just after 9pm. This was a rise of 1.8m in less than 12 hours. The river was a raging torrent, lapping over riverside paths. The river also carried lots of broken tree branches and wood downstream, snagging on bridges and the weirs further around ‘the loop’.
My weather station in Gilesgate only recorded 13mm of rain on the 16th, so the rainfall must have been much heavier in the hills that feed the River Wear in the previous day.
The River Wear has been much higher than this in the past, but this episode was remarkable because of the rate of rise.
You can check the river level in Durham at any time by following the link on the Useful Weather Links page here
Click below to see a video from 16th March 2019 as we walked the riverside paths.
I’ve been using the NetAtmo Weather Station for about 2 years now so I’ve given it a good test. Within that time, i’ve had a few teething problems, but these are almost inevitable with Weather Stations and the more different types you use, the more you realise they all have their own quirks.
The NetAtmo Station is no different. Setting it up is quite easy though as it’s all done through the NetAtmo mobile app, which then connects all of the modules wirelessly to your wifi network. The base station is mains powered, whilst the external sensors are all powered by AA batteries.
The batteries last for a long time, powering the kit for 1-2 years without needing a change.
I did actually have a faulty external unit when I first bought the NetAtmo Weather Station, it was chewing through battery sets every 3-4 days (clearly nor right!), but NetAtmo replaced the unit quickly under warranty within a few days.
My first Weather Station was a thermometer screened by a baked bean tin!
Since 1975 i’ve had a weather station in some shape or form (more or less). I started out with a home made screen consisting of a thermometer and a baked bean tin, opened out and painted white to form a screen, nailed to a fencepost in the garden.
I became totally obsessed with that, recording 4 times a day. This was a manual thing in those days, so I had to go out in all weathers to keep it up. However it came with me through some monumental and historic weather, namely the hot summers of 1975 and 1976, the freezing cold winters of 1978-79 and 1981-82, before I moved house.
Then I bought a Davis Weathermonitor 2
I didn’t manage to get another one together until I was married, in a different part of town (Ferryhill). This was a little digital unit with a separate rain gauge. It lasted a couple of years, but the only really notable weather it captured was the snow of February 1991.
By 1997 I’d gathered together enough cash to buy a Davis Weather Station. This was very expensive for me, but it attached to my computer and I could read the weather without going outside. It was all cabled together though and looked a bit unsightly. I ran this until about 2011, culminating in the phenomenal December of 2010. Then it died.
After moving to our Durham house, we had a garden back (although it was a total tip until last year). Making the garden good again, I began to appreciate it’s microclimate and wanted to get a station going again.
These days, wireless kit has become commonplace and now interfaces easily with smart phones and tablets. One of the most difficult things about the Davis was getting it to run on a Mac.
I’m still a great fan of Davis kit, but I needed the new station to run with Apple’s hardware, so I ended up picking up a Netatmo, a French Company.
My 3rd an current weather station is by NetAtmo
The Netatmo station comes very well packaged, direct from France. Unpacking it reveals two sleek aluminium tubes – the larger one being the base station sensor that sits indoors, and a second smaller tube that’s designed to sit outside.
Documentation is minimal, but points you to downloading an app to your phone to facilitate the installation. The first thing to do is get the base station talking to your wifi. The base station is mains powered and once that is plugged in the app leads you through the configuration of adding the second sensor. Pretty easy stuff.
Next thing is siting the two items. I chose to sit the base station in the corner of the living room, behind the TV. The base station monitors indoor temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, ambient noise and carbon dioxide.
Next, the outside sensor. This measures outside temperature and humidity. It also allows Dew Point to be derived. The small external sensor runs from two AA batteries which need to be installed when pairing with the base station. It comes with a mounting strap with velcro attachment, designed to secure it around a drainpipe or post.
It also comes with a slot at the back of the aluminium casing by which you can attach it to a wall with a screw. This was my chosen route and I put it on the north facing wall of my shed (the only place in the garden not to receive direct sunlight.
I had read online that the sensor needed sheltering from direct rain, as it would mean the humidity readings would stay high until the sensor dried out. For that reason I installed a little pelmet above it, made from PVC tongue and groove cladding, to protect it from the rain.
Here’s a superb video, showing all the standard modules and setup.
Extra purchase was the Rain Gauge
I also purchased the Netatmo rain gauge, but unfortunately forget to get a mounting bracket (sold separately) so I couldn’t set this up straight away.
The rain gauge is very sleek and has a broad, transparent plastic funnel top and a black cylinder below housing the tipping bucket rain detector. Each tip is calibrated at 0.1mm of rain, so it’s quite high resolution. There’s a screw hole in the base for attachment to the bracket, which I secured to a fence post with three screws.
It’s important that the top of the gauge is perfectly level to make sure the ‘tip’ works properly, so I set it up with a spirit level to make sure. There is also an ingenious anemometer if you have a suitable site for mounting and correct exposure.
As can be seen, the data on the station can be shown via a Widget (actually from a 3rd party Netatmo site) and Netatmo also operate their own Network where other station owner’s data can be seen on a map.
This is useful for local comparisons and it’s easy to see when a station is incorrectly sited. The third party sites can also enable much more extensive analysis than the Netatmo one and it’s possible to set up a weather station page to display current readings
Verdict on the NetAtmo Weather Station
The NetAtmo weather station is a capable device for amateur weather observers and provides accurate data, and being wireless it can be installed discretely without much fuss.
The app from NetAtmo is basic, but there are numerous other third-party ones that offer better visualisation of the data. I’m currently using myatmo and Smartmixin. I also publish my data here on the blog by using an absolutely superb Weather Station plugin (called Weather Station)
Setup is easy using a smartphone such as an iPhone or Samsung device.
It looks good, and could very easily fit in with modern decor in the living room or study and wouldn’t look out of place at all. It’s smooth lines allow it to blend with any modern furniture.