Winter Index:  Were winters snowier in the past? It is sometimes difficult to remember just how snowy and cold or how mild and wet each season was. The Snow survey of Wanstead will give you a better idea, a winter index that ranks the severe years of 1962/63 and 1946/47 down to the ultra mild winters of 1988/89 and 1989/90.

Yuletide weather since the 1840s: Christmas in Victorian London is often portrayed as very cold and snowy. But a look back through the meteorological records of the Royal Observatory at Greenwich reveals a very different reality. Some 170 years of weather on Christmas Day in London can be found here.

Alpine snowfall variability: Snowfall in the Alps has been poor in recent seasons. Though the range has definitely warmed the variability and ebb and flow of the climate means it is impossible to say with confidence that by the end of this century the slopes won’t be covered in the white stuff.

The last Thames Frost Fair: In 1814 the Thames froze over to a depth that was thick enough to allow the population to hold festivities on the ice. Meteorological readings from the season compare well with the winter of 1962/63.

When the River Lea was a mile wide: mention winter and most people will think of snow and ice. However, the season can also bring days of heavy rain. And when a period of heavy rain struck immediately after a cold spell in January 1809 disaster struck.

Colin Finch’s 38F rule: if the maximum temperature is 38F (3.3C) or less for four consecutive days before Christmas Day there is a very good chance that the following winter will be very cold.

-20C in east London: in February 1816 perfect radiation conditions over thick snow enabled Luke Howard to record -5F

The January 1987 cold spell: the mercury plunged during this Siberian blast with central London recording a maximum on the 12th of only -5.5C

Centuries of London fogs: while the pea soupers of the past no longer plague the capital the conditions that allowed them to form still occasionally materialise, vastly impacting the air quality.

London’s December extremes: the warmest, coldest and wettest days of December since 1959.


Meteorology-based musings about east London and beyond

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