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Offline stu43t

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No snow in the UK anymore??
« on: 27/12/2007 15:38:45 »
I remember when I was a child during the sixties, snow was very much a part of winter here in the UK. Although the temperature in winter these days is around the same, if not cooler than it was forty years ago, the sight of snow in winter is becoming a rare thing.

When I tell the kids today how we used to go sledging, make slides and snowmen and have snowball fights every winter, they wish it would snow like that today. I get asked why it doesn't snow anymore, I think global warming has a lot to do with it but the temperature in the UK in winter is about the same as it used to be.

I cant answer their questions properly, and it puzzles me too. I don't know if this question has been asked before and I apologise if it has, but I cant find any answers to this question.

Thanks


 

paul.fr

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No snow in the UK anymore??
« Reply #1 on: 27/12/2007 16:34:12 »
Hi Stu, and welcome to the forum.

The temperatures around the UK and Europe have actually got warmer over the last few decades, although when you are out de-icing your car it may not actually feel as though it has. Whilst this can not be directly link to climate change, it is fair to assume that climate change is playing a part.

The last 5 winters in the UK have also been the last 5 warmest winters on record! You can find data on climate record dating back to 1659 at the met office website. (Hadley Centre Central England Temperature) The HadCET measures and reports daily and monthly temperatures in a triangular region encompassing Bristol, London and Preston. Monthly temperatures have been measured since 1659, and daily temperatures since 1772. Nowhere on Earth have temperatures been recorded for this long.
http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/research/hadleycentre/

Interestingly, with the exception of drizzle, all rainfall in the UK starts off as snow. It will fall as snow until it passes through air that is warmer than 2 degrees c, at which time it will melt and fall as rain. So although you may have a ground temperature of less than 2 degrees c, you will have a warmer layer of air above the ground and below the cloud base that is above 2c.

So whilst we can see that the ground temperature is clod enough to snow, what really counts is the air temperature above ground and below the cloud base.

If you or your kids have an interest in the weather and climate change then i fully reccomend that you pay a vist to this part of the met office website:
http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/education/resources/index.html

From there you can order free dvd's and weather presenting kits. They are designed for both gcse and a level students, but don't let the age appropiate info put you off. They offer good information and activities for all ages...and they are free, even postage is free!

If this does not answer you question, or you have more weather (or any science) related questions, then there are plenty of people her who are only to happy to help.
 

paul.fr

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No snow in the UK anymore??
« Reply #2 on: 27/12/2007 18:08:59 »
As a note, the last white christmas in the Uk was 2004 (northern ireland) and the last white christmas for England was 2000...i think.
 

another_someone

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No snow in the UK anymore??
« Reply #3 on: 27/12/2007 18:39:09 »
A lot of the cold in the late 50s was down to pollution (the London smogs blocked out lots of sunlight), and this to some extent this continued through to the 80s, when reductions in particulate pollution finally gave us more sunlight reaching the ground.
 

Offline rosalind dna

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No snow in the UK anymore??
« Reply #4 on: 27/12/2007 20:07:06 »
It has already snowed this winter and early this December in Scotland also
the most times/months that the snow appears mostly is in December, January,
February, March and it has been recorded that it's snowed even in May and June.
 

paul.fr

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No snow in the UK anymore??
« Reply #5 on: 28/12/2007 16:10:18 »
Smog certainly was a problem, but part of the reason why we had the smog was the cold. We burned more fossil fuels in our homes during those times to keep warm.

Another reason why we had more snow, can just be down to our memories of the time. Yes we have the photographs to prove how we went snowball fighting and such, but i think we romanticise those events also and elevate them above what actually happened.

In the 60's we had an average of 20 snowy days a year, compared to just 5 in the 90's. So yes there was more snow (statistically), but possibly not as much as we remember. Also there was the really bad winter of '62 / '63.

Quote
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 1962. The weather in the first three weeks of December was changeable and sometimes stormy. From the 4th to the 6th, 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 15/16 December, the strongest since records began in 1946. The weather situation changed markedly on 22 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 24 December 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 deep in much of southern England.

A blizzard over south-west England and south Wales on 29 and 30 December brought snowdrifts 6 m 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.
Cold Front


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.
 

Offline stu43t

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No snow in the UK anymore??
« Reply #6 on: 29/12/2007 13:33:48 »
Thanks for all your replies, you have been very helpful and I really appreciate it.

The snow which I especially remember is from 1962/63 where the snow lay on the ground for months right up into April.

My other memories of snow mainly come from the sixties. I live in Yorkshire and when it snowed, it really snowed, settled and stayed around for weeks, we had such great fun during the winter. The last "real" white Christmas for me in this part of the UK was in 1970, the snow laid on the ground for weeks and was quite deep. So deep in fact that a snow drift covered the whole of the back of the bungalow where I lived. I opened the back door and was greeted with a white wall of snow. We had to go out the front and dig our way into the back of the bungalow...lol

I know it "snows" today, but it isn't anything like the real thing anymore (apart from Scotland). I wonder how we ever managed then. When it snowed most people still got to work and schools were not closed. Today when get a smattering of snow everything goes into a panic and everything seems to grind to a halt because of the sight of a snowflake lol.

Thanks for the link to the met office supplied by paul.fr. I found it extremely interesting and of great use for my lads. Pauls answer to my question that although it feels cold enough to snow but doesn't, very interesting and has answered my question.

Am I right by saying (even though we are experiencing global warming) that we are still in the ice age? I was told that we are still in the ice age as long as we have ice caps?
« Last Edit: 29/12/2007 13:54:34 by stu43t »
 

paul.fr

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No snow in the UK anymore??
« Reply #7 on: 29/12/2007 16:00:29 »
I think anyone who has lived through an extreme event, will always remember it and compare every year to it. I remember a pretty bad winter in Milton Keynes in the early 80s, i have yet to see that much snow again.

One thing you forgot, Stu. Although the schools did remain open, they were damn cold..no heating on..sat in class with coats and scarfs on, it makes me shiver just thinking about it.

Technically, and by definition, we are still in an Ice Age. "intervals during which glaciers advance and retreat" because of the ice sheets of greenland and antarctica. Although we are actually in an interglacial period; the holocene.

According to the new scientist the The world's second largest ice cap )greenland)may be melting three times faster than indicated by previous measurements, according to newly released gravity data collected by satellites..
And according to the British Antartic Survey; "Antarctic's ice 'melting faster'".

Interestingly, it is never too cold to snow. It can snow even in temperatures of -40, although at this temperature the snow / ice crystals are too small to be seen.
 

Offline stu43t

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No snow in the UK anymore??
« Reply #8 on: 29/12/2007 17:00:14 »
There was no need to keep your coat and hats on inside the school at all, it wasn't cold inside the school, not the one I went to. Why should it be? Why should a snowfall affect the heating inside a building.


As for remembering a single incident and comparing every year to it then I must remind you that I mentioned the whole decade of the sixties, not just one year or a single incident.

I still chuckle at the effect of the smattering of snow these days, trains run to a halt, traffic becomes chaotic, wrong kind of snow?? I mean, whats all that about??
 

paul.fr

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No snow in the UK anymore??
« Reply #9 on: 29/12/2007 17:13:06 »
There was no need to keep your coat and hats on inside the school at all, it wasn't cold inside the school, not the one I went to. Why should it be? Why should a snowfall affect the heating inside a building.

There was at my school. They used to get a cheaper energy rate for using more heating in the summer months than the winter ones, hence they hardly had the heating on in winter and in summer you sweat like hell as the radiators were always on.
I thought this was standard practice! obviously not.


Quote
As for remembering a single incident and comparing every year to it then I must remind you that I mentioned the whole decade of the sixties, not just one year or a single incident.

yes you did, but i think we/i do look back with fondness (although i hate snow) at those times and tend to compare winters to them.

Quote
I still chuckle at the effect of the smattering of snow these days, trains run to a halt, traffic becomes chaotic, wrong kind of snow?? I mean, whats all that about??

This actually refers to a headline in the telegraph on the 11th of Feb 1991, British rain never did say that the problem was "the wrong kind of snow"
what did happen was that the temperature was too cold for the snow to become "STICKY", as a result it remained a fine powder and got into the electronics of signals and such, causing the problems on the railways.
so the wrong kind of snow, is that which remains powdery, gets into the electronics and can not be ploughed away.
 

Offline rosalind dna

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No snow in the UK anymore??
« Reply #10 on: 29/12/2007 17:33:44 »
I remember when I was a child during the sixties, snow was very much a part of winter here in the UK. Although the temperature in winter these days is around the same, if not cooler than it was forty years ago, the sight of snow in winter is becoming a rare thing.

When I tell the kids today how we used to go sledging, make slides and snowmen and have snowball fights every winter, they wish it would snow like that today. I get asked why it doesn't snow anymore, I think global warming has a lot to do with it but the temperature in the UK in winter is about the same as it used to be.

I cant answer their questions properly, and it puzzles me too. I don't know if this question has been asked before and I apologise if it has, but I cant find any answers to this question.

Thanks

The Clean Air Act came in after the Great Smog in 1952 which killed lots of people because of the cold so they burned more coal. I was a child in the '50s and '60s too. But only saw the odd fog unlike this week's ones.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Smog_of_1952
http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/education/secondary/students/smog.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clean_air_act
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atmospheric_dispersion_model


 

Offline stu43t

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No snow in the UK anymore??
« Reply #11 on: 30/12/2007 20:16:39 »




Technically, and by definition, we are still in an Ice Age. "intervals during which glaciers advance and retreat" because of the ice sheets of greenland and antarctica. Although we are actually in an newbielink:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interglacials [nonactive]; the newbielink:http://://http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holocene [nonactive].

According to the newbielink:http://http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn9717&feedId=online-news_rss20 [nonactive] the The world's second largest ice cap )greenland)may be melting three times faster than indicated by previous measurements, according to newly released gravity data collected by satellites..
And according to the newbielink:http://www.antarctica.ac.uk/ [nonactive]; newbielink:http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/4228411.stm [nonactive].

Interestingly, it is never too cold to snow. It can snow even in temperatures of -40, although at this temperature the snow / ice crystals are too small to be seen.


Thanks for that Paul - You certainly know your stuff. The explanation about "The wrong kind of snow" is very interesting, I never knew that. This is a great forum to be on. Thanks to everyone for the brilliant answers
« Last Edit: 30/12/2007 20:22:55 by stu43t »
 

Offline opus

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No snow in the UK anymore??
« Reply #12 on: 02/01/2008 19:30:08 »
snow expected tomorrow in the UK- wheheyyy! I love it!
 

Offline techmind

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No snow in the UK anymore??
« Reply #13 on: 02/01/2008 20:22:10 »
I remember several snowy winters in the suburbs of North London (Harrow-Watford) in the early 1980's. We had several inches of snow, which remained on the ground for maybe ten days?

We had a particularly memorable Christmas when we took buses and trains ...and a sledge... to get to the pantomime because my parents weren't prepared to drive in the icy conditions.

My school certainly was cold, especially in the "huts" which were not part of the main building. It's not that the snow itself affected the heating, just the cold. The rate of heat loss from a building is proportional to the difference between the inside and outside temperature, therefore when the outside temperatures are lower you need a more powerful heating system to maintain "room temperature". I remember having those awful portable gas heaters in our classrooms which made a funny smell and burned gas from Calor Gas cylinders. We still sat in our coats for most of the morning on some days!
In that era the outside drinking fountains regularly froze - I've seen the burst pipes on the outside of the walls! The school was only closed when the toilets became non-functional owing to freezing/burst pipes. In my schools (built in the 1930's) the toilets were in separate parts of the building (virtually outside!) and had very little heating, so they froze quite easily.

I'm quite sure people didn't travel as much or as far to work then as they do now, so the roads had more capacity to cope with traffic travelling more slowly or via differetn routes. Today many roads I know are only a minor incident away from gridlock in rush hour even at the best of times.
People walked more too. My mum walked me to school practically every day from the age of 5 to 11... whatever the weather brought. I do remember getting nasty chillblains on my toes though - wellyboots (for snowy weather) don't provide much thermal insulation! We should have had extra layers of thick socks. Most children lived within a mile of the school, and the majority walked. I've heard mothers my age (30-ish) recently claim their 4-5 year old children would be physically harmed if they walked outside in the cold/fog/whatever(!)

I suspect also that twenty or thirty years ago people were more mechanically-minded and were prepared to *adapt* their travel and driving according to the weather, and take appropriate precautions. You do get the feeling that these days (perhaps partly because modern cars need so little maintainance most of the time) many people *expect* to not have to do *anything* different when travelling in bad weather, which just isn't realistic.


P.S. Bring on the snow!   Cycling in snow can be fun and "interesting"!
« Last Edit: 02/01/2008 20:26:45 by techmind »
 

Offline rosalind dna

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No snow in the UK anymore??
« Reply #14 on: 03/01/2008 15:55:30 »
It is already snowing in Bradford, W. Scotland and other places too.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7169438.stm
 

Offline techmind

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No snow in the UK anymore??
« Reply #15 on: 03/01/2008 17:34:51 »
In Surrey we only had a few light and brief flurries this afternoon. Not enough to settle even momentarily  :(
 

paul.fr

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No snow in the UK anymore??
« Reply #16 on: 04/01/2008 07:37:17 »
I hate to presume to know what a topic starter is referring to, but i don't think that he meant to imply that is does not snow in the UK, at all, so posts stating that it snowed yesterday are not (in my opinion - for what it's worth) helpful or too relevant.

what i think the poster meant was the volume and intensity of snow that we currently get in the UK. Simply seeing snow through your window...shouting the kids to come and look before it's all gone in 5 minutes is not the question.

I see the question as being when snow becomes a disruption to life and services, and provides an opportunity to get the sledge out. I can think of 3 definitions of a snowy day. The first being a day when snow falls, the second being a snow day, when schools and business have to close and the third being when snow covers a geographical area and lays on the ground for more than 24 hours.

The third (i am pretty sure) is a met office standard for defining a snow day, i am unable to find a link for this. If i am wrong then i would be grateful to someone who can give the actual data.
 

Offline stu43t

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No snow in the UK anymore??
« Reply #17 on: 05/01/2008 10:21:28 »
Hi Paul. You are correct in understanding what I meant about this topic. I have found a photo on Wiki which illustrates the weather I was trying to describe.

I think it should be called "There's Snow Place Like Holme" - groan lol

newbielink:http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Holme%2C_West_Yorkshire%2C_Winter_1978.jpg [nonactive]
 

Offline stu43t

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No snow in the UK anymore??
« Reply #18 on: 05/01/2008 10:48:36 »
Hi Techmind,

Your description of the outside toilets brought back a few memories to me. I lived in a street, which was cobbled, and had gaslights up untill 1965. These were back to back houses and had outside toilets, one to three families. It was murder in winter, burst pipes everywhere, and you daren't go out in the middle of the night so we all had to use our own guzunder (A large pot that "goes under" the bed).

The part you write about the traffic these days is spot on. I dont know if people do travel further to work but there is a significant increase in traffic today. The slightest hitch and viola, everything comes to a standstill. Although the cars made then were robust and heavy duty compared to today, they were not as reliable, and you are right by saying that people were more mechanically-minded and were prepared to *adapt* their travel and driving according to the weather, and take appropriate precautions.

The amount of traffic and parked cars is horrendous outside schools during the school run, and there is a huge lack of care and respect to other roadusers and pedestrians. It would be a lot safer if more people walked their kids to school. It never fails to amaze me when I see mums taking their little angels to school in the car when they live only a few hundred yards away. Whatever happened to walking to school??

Yep cycling in snow can be fun, but be careful if the bike youre using is a motorbike. I used a motor bike for a decade before changing to four wheels. I came off the bike nearly every winter and It wasn't the snow that got me, it was the dreaded black ice. I suffered a few broken bones thanks to that stuff and I never saw it coming once.
« Last Edit: 05/01/2008 11:02:13 by stu43t »
 

paul.fr

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No snow in the UK anymore??
« Reply #19 on: 05/01/2008 14:27:12 »
Nice find Stu, That picture is below.
 

Offline stu43t

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No snow in the UK anymore??
« Reply #20 on: 07/01/2008 12:53:41 »
Hi Paul

Thanks for getting the photo to appear on the forum (clever stuff).

I had forgotten that it snowed liked that in 1978, but obviously it did. I had forgotten it because I was way too old to go out playing in the snow then and had my sights set on discos, nights out and having fun lol.

Does anyone remember the three day week, was it in 1974? dark days - literally!
 

paul.fr

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No snow in the UK anymore??
« Reply #21 on: 07/01/2008 16:40:29 »
The winter of '78, i was only 8 at the time and i honestly don't remember it. I do know that by the middle of January there were 6 foot drifts! I think the drifts and blizzards lasted until late February or early March.

I will try and post more when time permits.

In the meantime, this is a link to a set of Met.Office produced fact sheets. They are in pdf format, and are well worth reading and printing.

http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/corporate/library/factsheets.html
 

paul.fr

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No snow in the UK anymore??
« Reply #22 on: 08/01/2008 16:03:16 »
It is so hard to find facts about the winter of '78, after some searching on the net, i did manage to find this:

1978
Some interest in the winter, and a notable summer storm. At 11.53C, the equal warmest autumn of the century, and perhaps the driest, with many good spells of sunny weather.

January. Unsettled, windy, and wet, with heavy snow in the north. At Glasgow 17 cm of snow was the heaviest fall there since 1947. There was a storm on the 3rd, with tornadoes: a bad one damaged Newmarket. In particular, it caught a flight of geese, 136 falling dead out of the sky. As temperatures fell as low as 1C in the storms some of the precipitation fell as snow. There was another notable storm on the 11-12th when a northerly gale caused a storm surge in the North Sea; Margate Pier was destroyed. Flooding along the east coast. Gusts of 80 mph in London, with thunder, and snow in the north. Freezing fog in the south on the 18th (-3C), followed by snow. There was a great blizzard over the north of Scotland on the 25-29th, peaking on the 28th: people were trapped in cars, and helicopters were needed to rescue passengers from the Inverness to Wick train in the evening. This was the worst blizzard in the area since 1955.

February. Generally quite a cold (CET 2.8C) and snowy month. The start of the month was mild and unsettled. It then became very cold for two weeks from the 7th as a large anticyclone over Scandinavia directed easterly winds our way: the classic great cold setup. Snow showers in the east: 15 cm in parts of Kent by the 9th, 30 cm at Newcastle by the 13th. There were some exceptional blizzards as depressions ran close to the south, particularly in the southwest on the 18th-20th, centering on the 19th. 34 cm of snow at Exeter and Cardiff, with 8m drifts. 1m fell on Dartmoor. Snow fell over much of the south and Midlands. The great southwest blizzard was one of the great blizzards of this century, with the loss of several lives. Devon was particularly badly hit, by disruption extended to Hampshire and Wiltshire. Many places were cut off; Lynmouth until the 24th, and Hawkrdige on Exmoor remained cutoff until the 27th. Some low temperatures too, with many places beneath freezing throughout this cold period. -2C1 at Braemar on the 15th; and -17C at Edinburgh on the 17th, its equal record low; and the lowest of all, -22 at Keith (Grampian) on the 20th. Heavy freezing rain fell in Surrey on the 20th. The thaw set in about the 23rd: up to 15C in London. The rapid thaw casued flooding.

........

http://www.personal.dundee.ac.uk/~taharley/1978_weather.htm
 

Offline CliffordK

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No snow in the UK anymore??
« Reply #23 on: 29/01/2011 10:54:14 »
I bumped into this under the "Random Topics".

Perhaps it should better be titled "Careful What You Wish For".

How's the weather over there now?  It has actually been a very pleasant January here in Oregon.
 

Offline Mazurka

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No snow in the UK anymore??
« Reply #24 on: 31/01/2011 17:44:19 »
There has been no significant extra snow since December  :(
In fact I think it has been unseasonably dry (certianly here in Cumbria).  It also seems that as the ground was frozen before the snow, most of it just ran off during the thaw and did not infiltrate (like the geogrpahy books tell you it normally does ;))
 

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No snow in the UK anymore??
« Reply #24 on: 31/01/2011 17:44:19 »

 

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