Two photos of the frozen River Wear 1981/82 and 1895.

Two amazing photos of the frozen River Wear in Durham. The first, credited to Matthew Avery and Helen Avery is of the Cathedral across the frozen river. Although Helen originally thought it was from 1983, it’s almost certainly from a year earlier in the winter of 1981/82. December 1981 and the first half of January 1982 were very severe, particularly 8th-27th December 1981 and 6th-16th January 1982, so this picture was most likely taken in one of these periods (probably December 1981). The blue tint on the photograph makes it look very cold indeed. Here’s a comment from James Clark …

Read moreTwo photos of the frozen River Wear 1981/82 and 1895.

February 2020 Monthly Report – Wet and Wild

There was a very wild start to February, although it was relatively mild. Storm Ciara over the weekend of 8th/9th brought damaging gusts and flooding. The worst of it passed to the South of us, but there was major flooding in Yorkshire and winds gusted to 93mph in Wales. The River Wear rose dramatically during the morning of Sunday 9th to peak at 3.05m late on the evening, flooding riverside paths. Wintry showers on 10th-12th. Snowfall for the Midlands, Scotland and Pennines 15-20cm on high ground. Severe drifting on high ground. The next storm (Storm Dennis) arrived on 15th/16th and …

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The First Snows Arrive!

Snowfall, Winter 2019-20 Better late than never Well, after a winter composed almost entirely of wind, rain and relatively mild temperatures, the first snow arrived in Durham five days before the end of February. Amounts aren’t huge (2-3”), but at least it stopped the winter from being thrown on the ‘No snow’ pile. It’s melted rapidly though after turning to rain. By mid-afternoon, the snow had completely gone and air temperatures were up to about 6 degC.

Storm Ciara causes flooding in Durham

Storm Ciara batters the UK 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 …

Read moreStorm Ciara causes flooding in Durham

February 1986 – Extremely Cold, One of the Coldest Months on Record

February 1986 (who remembers that one then?) was one of the coldest Februaries ever recorded in modern times. Trevor Harley, in his famous weather summaries pages, describes February 1986 thus: “February 1986. Extremely cold (-1.1C CET), with frequent light snowfalls. The second coldest February of the 20th century (after 1947), and fourth coldest month of the twentieth century overall (and the last time a month had a mean beneath zero before December 2010). The month was similar to January 1963 in being a completely blocked month, with a high centred over north Russia bringing some very cold air east. Winds …

Read moreFebruary 1986 – Extremely Cold, One of the Coldest Months on Record

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. As you can see, there was an air frost every night for the first 19 days. …

Read moreFebruary 1991 – A very snowy episode!

Winter Chills : The Great Winters of 1947 and 1963 in the UK

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 …

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Skating on the River Wear in February 1895

This photo was taken (we think) in February 1895. It shows people sweeping the ice on the river, perhaps preparing it for skating or maybe a curling competition. The location is just below Prebends Bridge. February 1895 was one of the coldest Februaries ever recorded in Durham. Noticeable is how little vegetation cloaks the slopes below the Cathedral. The building to the left of the photograph is the Old Fulling Mill. Prebends Bridge can be seen in this photograph, everyone is skating! The exact source of the photos is unknown.

February 2019 – Historically warm after a freezing start

February started very cold, with the first 3 days averaging below freezing. Rain was plentiful until the 9th, but then the dry weather of February returned, accompanied by increasingly warm unseasonal temperatures. The airstream was coming from the Canary Islands. The all-time February record was smashed in England and Wales on 26th and 27th, topping 20 degC for the first time in a winter month. Here at my site in Durham, the maximum got to 17.1 degC on 26th, which is a very close to the February record at Durham Observatory, 17.4 degC observed on the 28th February 2012. I …

Read moreFebruary 2019 – Historically warm after a freezing start

Nacreous Clouds over Durham, Feb 2016

A fantastic display of nacreous (mother of pearl) clouds occured across NE England in February 2016. These photos were taken above Durham Cathedral and Castle at about 7:15am. Nacreous Clouds are quite rare. They can glow very brightly due to iridescence and are much higher than other tropospheric clouds, a height of 15-30km above the ground is typical. They are caused by wave-like motion of air, normally due to the proximity of mountain ranges. Best viewing is just before dawn and just after sunset.