>What I’ve Thought of Winter 2009-10 here in UK

Written by on March 2, 2010 in Rest of Europe with 0 Comments

>As the reports come flying in about coldest, snowiest, sunniest, dullest, wettest, driest… winter in 5, 10, 15, 20, 30….. years I thought I would mention a few of my “off the record” thoughts about the winter across the hemisphere.

Ok, So, for the United Kingdom overall, it’s been the coldest winter since 1978-79 and for Scotland and Northern Ireland it’s been the worst since all the way back to 1962-63..

I could safely say this has by far been the worst in my lifetime hands down, even if I had not viewed those stats above. The persistency of not only the cold but snow this winter has been a true shock to the system. I have been and continue to be amazed at just how many nights have went below freezing and well below at that, the amount of days over the 90-day winter period where snow has been on the ground or it has been falling from the sky and the shear unwillingness for our atmosphere to warm this year has been remarkable.

My entire lifetime has been dominated by winters with persistent blasts of wet, windy and mild air off the Atlantic, with all but, in-between short visits of cold and snow from Siberia. Yes, I have experienced colder actual temps (Dec 95) but even for snowfall, depths over the hills just north of the house here at the moment have been something that would be hard to beat, even in the midst of the deepest of cold spells or biggest of Atlantic and Siberian air mass collisions which have been known to bring major snows. It’s been a winter that’s wanted to snow more than rain and wanted to be cold rather than be warm. It’s basically been a winter against all odds and against the trend of the last 15 or so years at least. As for the 1980s, well, some of those winter blasts were tough, but even those can’t compete to this year, as for the 1970s, a decade well documented to those, like myself that weren’t born, with stats and pictures in books as well as “trips down memory lane” by our parents and grandparents about those brutal, unrelentless winters of the 70s. Well, even those winters have been beaten this year across Scotland and Northern Ireland. Indeed as stated, for Britain as a whole, this is the worst since 78-79.

Many aspects have really impressed me. Not only did we see a cold period last unrelentless and without a break for 3 weeks. Snow and low temperatures dominated, even during the “thaw” snowfall was being reported across portions of England, Wales and across the northern regions of Scotland where a thaw never has come since the arrival of winter hit during the period between Dec 12-17. Since then persistent waves of snow have constantly freshed an ever deepening snowpack across the vast snowfields and mountains of the Scottish Highlands. With Aviemore as a good central representation of the Highlands, they have never seen a longer period with snowcover. They like many areas across the rugged, remote, lonely and wild lands of northern Britain have constantly seen air flowing pff Scandinavia and with a surge of warmer, moister air blowing out of the southwest Atlantic, perhaps thanks to a shrinking of cold air coverage with the advancement of the season, the biggest snows of not only winter arrived there over the weekend to Scotland but according to many sources was the largest snowfalls on record.

Certainly for here locally, the Campsie Fells saw a slightly smaller version of what folks across the Highlands saw with massive 1-2 foot snows and with strong, icy winds came major drifting which even now is causing ig issues across the higher northern routes…

Another interesting aspect is also the temperatures and persistently low readings. Nights have relentlessly fallen to frigid levels of between -15 to -19C between a Tulloch Bridge, Altnaharra, Aviemore, Braemar and Dalwhinnie with others seeing lows down around -18C during the heart of the deepest cold found during the last week of Dec, first 10 days of January.

Even February has been brutal with a 2 week stretch where it seemed every night was dropping into the single digits F. This just illustrates well how settled and anticyclonic air pattern has been and how much of a locked down pattern we have seen this winter. It’s been a perfect set-up for such a cold Highlands winter with perfect consitions both at the surface with deep and persistently refreshed snowcover as well as the clear, calm nature of Arctic high pressure resting above us. This has allowed Scotland as a nation to experience it’s coldest Dec-January period since supposedly 1914.

Many including myself, wondered, how the heck could those two combined months be that cold? Well I guess it’s courtesy of Highland temps and not so much here in the central belt which has seen milder conditions thanks to a more relatively Atlantic influence rather than Arctic dominance like the Highlands have seen… It appears me to, that the actual hills between us here in the central belt and into heart of the Highlands, have seperated two air masses this winter, whilst mid-Dec through Jan 10 saw complete control by the Arctic, later January and February has saw more Atlantic influence, shown by milder spells in between cold and the excessive snows….

England’s cold this winter has also impressed me greatly, not so much aroudn the Lakes like I forecasted but across the Midlands and the Greater Manchester area where frigid highs and lows were seen. -18C within the Manchester area is something you’d perhaps have heard of during the little ice age or late 1800s when the Thames would freeze for 2-3 months. But this winter?? I did expect low readings in the well known south-central cold nook of Benson, located within a shallow bowl. Even there, I was impressed by it’s -18C low…

I will talk more about the UK winter of 2009-10 in the coming days and weeks but I just wanted to share some of these thoughts roaming my head at the moment.

BTW the roads were poor this morning as I drove around Dumfries and up to Sanquhar along the A76… Very snowy and icy, but a simply stunning winter morning with frosted, snowy trees and a brilliant sunrise. My truck thermometer was reading -10C/14F at Sanquhar around 7.45am this morning.

My thoughts are coming within the next day or two for the US, plenty of thoughts on your folks weather, believe me….

Thanks for reading,
-Mark

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