December started quite wet, then mostly dry later. The second half of the month was quieter with a lot of High Pressure influence. Rainfall total was 41mm, which is only 72% of normal for December.
In late afternoon/evening of 15th December there was a fall of snow/sleet/freezing rain. A right hogs breakfast with strong south easterly winds. Precipitation total was 8mm overnight. It was all gone by morning as temperatures rose.
Temperature was well above normal for Durham, but not as high an anomally as the CET area, which recorded the 15th warmest December. In Durham, the mean was +1.6 degC above normal. The warmest day of the month was the last at 9.2 degC.
I had a data outage on Christmas Eve, resulting in one day of missing data. It did have a frost, so the total for the month was 6.
This list has been compiled from CET records after we experienced the coldest December for more than a century in Durham. In a climate that has shown a seemingly inexorable rise in temperature, December 2010 came as a huge shock.
Christmas Day 2010 ranks third in a series going back to 1772, marginally behind 1830.
Coldest Christmas Days
-10.8 degC 1796
-6.6 degC 1830
-5.9 degC 2010
-5.8 degC 1878
-5.1 degC 1779
November 2010 also contained one of the coldest ever days recorded in that calendar month, coming in at -4.0 degC on 28th. It also ranks 3rd in all-time cold November days.
25th Nov Snow cover at 0900hrs. 2″ in Ferryhill, 5-6″ in Newcastle.
26th Nov Snow cover continuing. Brighter, with improvement in road conditions
27th Nov. Snow cover holding. Several further snow showers today
28th Nov. Some more snow overnight. Hard frost. -17.3C in Llandryndodd Wells in Wales overnight
29th Nov. 4″ more snow overnight. Slight thaw. Frequent showers of hail, sleet and snow. Thunder too!
30th Nov. Snow cover persisting. Frequent snow showers. Strong E wind. Cold
1st Dec. More snow overnight. Another 1-2″. -20c at Atnaharra last night
2nd Dec Frequent snow showers from the East. Cold again. Another 3″ of snow falling
3rd Dec. Very cold morning. New record for December at Ferryhill (-8.6). Snow showers dying out but deep snow cover remains. Ice day.
4th Dec. Still deep snow cover (15″). Shallow freezing fog.
5th Dec. Snow cover persisting. Very cold later.
6th Dec. Very cold morning again (-7.8). 12 days of snow cover now. Ice day
7th Dec. Snow cover becoming icy. Spell of light snow early morning. Cold. Ice day
8th Dec. Sunny, bright day. Ice day.
9th Dec. Temp returns above zero. Thaw is beginning, but still snow lying @ 0900.
10th Dec. Substantial thawing of lying snow, but still >50% lying at 0900.
11th Dec. Thaw continuing. Probably last day with >50% cover. 6.8 degC is highest since 20th Nov.
12th Dec. Milder and drizzly rain. Majority of snow melted, except in sheltered areas.
16th Dec 5am. Cold front sweeps south leaving snow and ice. 7 degC drop from 5 > 8am. Treacherous roads. Cold
17th Dec Snow cover at 0900hrs. Ice on pavements. Very cold.
18th Dec. Very cold. No fresh snow, but very icy.
19th Dec Very cold and sunny. 7th ice day of the month!
20th Dec Very cold, sunny and icy.
21st Dec Very cold again. Slightly ‘warmer’ (around freezing) tonight, with some snow showers
22nd Dec Snow showers overnight and early morning. Not quite as cold. Heavy showers in evening too
23rd Dec Still a couple of inches snow cover. Sunshine and snow showers
24th Dec Some fresh snow from showers. Cold
25th Dec Slight thaw. No fresh snow, but still a covering at 0900
26th Dec Very cold. Snow flurries
27th Dec Very cold. Snow flurries. Snowcover diminishing
28th Dec Substantial thaw. Conditions improving
29th Dec Less than 50% ground covered by snow
December 2010 was the coldest December in Durham for more than a century (Dec 1895). The river completely froze over, a very rare occurence, seen only in the very coldest of conditions.
My weather summary for Ferryhill shows the extent of the cold conditions
A very wet, but mild month, with almost twice the normal amount of rainfall. The total ended up just 0.2mm under the 100mm mark. This eclipsed the previous record for January at Ferryhill by some 35mm. The year started with a very wet New Years Day, with 19mm faliing on the 1st. This would have been the ‘wettest day’ in most months here, but it was beaten on the 21st when a new wettest day for January was set. 23mm fell in the 24hrs. There was 4cm of snow cover on the 3rd January, but it soon melted.
February 1991. A very cold first half in the south, but mild second half. Overall temperature: CET average of 1.5. There was a notable ten day cold spell at the beginning, as NE winds brought in some very cold air from north Russia, leading to snow across most of Britain and some very low temperatures, making this the most severe spell of weather since 1987 (and still not bettered, if that’s the right word).
The cold air arived from Siberia on the 4th, with temperatures falling on the 5th and 6th, with the 7-9th as the coldest days. Barbourne (Hereford & Worcs.) recorded -15.6 on the 14th; Cawood (North Yorks.) had the lowest at -16.0 on the 14th. There was much powdery snow over England in this period, with some places having 48 hours of snowfall; snow depths of 30cm+ were widespread, particularly in the North East: 50 cms at Bradford and Longframlington.
Even London had 20 cm of snow, the deepest cover since December 1962. The temperature in many places did not rise above freezing from the 5-10th. Some places of the southeast had the coldest February day of the century on the 7th, with maxima around -6C, but widespread very low maxima on the 7th: -5.7 at Bastreet (Cornwall), -5.2C at Whipsnade (Deds.), and at Brighton.The minimum at Guernsey airport on the 7th was -7.2, the equal low for February.
On the 8th the maximum at Princetown (Dartmoor) was -6.0C. There were many injuries from falls on ice and sledging accidents, and a woman in Dartford received severe head injuries from falling icicles. This is the last notably cold snap I remember. It was the last time that most of Britain had snow cover.
Metro trains leaving Monkseaton station
This was the infamous “wrong type of snow” for British Rail: dry and powdery. The thaw caused flooding in north Yorkshire. Milder air and a thaw arrived in all parts on the 15th, with Torquay recording 12.6C. An anticyclone enabled a thaw by day, with some sharp frosts at night, until the 19th, when it became unsettled. There were 133mm of rain in mid-Wales on the 22nd.