First UK snowfall as the clocks go back: Here comes winter

Posted: October 27, 2012 by tallbloke in media, Natural Variation, Uncertainty, weather

My other half texted me at 9.30pm last night from Durham, where she is visiting family, to tell me it was snowing heavily. I noticed the guys at the local railway station had been gritting as I got off my train too. At lunchtime she emailed me one of the pictures she took this morning. Snow at valley level before the clocks go back is fairly unusual for the UK.

This from the independent byMichael McCarthy

The first snow and the end of summer time both mark the onset of winter this weekend.

Scotland and parts of the East Coast had a dusting of snow today and tomorrow more is expected, significantly earlier than last year when the first flakes were not seen until December.

The Local Government Association (LGA) said that hundreds of gritters are on standby to treat roads as required.

The first real cold snap of the season meant that night-time temperatures were expected to be below freezing in many areas last night, although after tonight they may be back to more normal levels. But cloud and rain will remain.

Tomorrow night is when the clocks go back an hour, marking the return from British Summer Time to Greenwich Mean Time, and bringing in the dark evenings which will now be with us till the end of March.

The bad weather is also affecting wildlife. Thousands of migrating birds have been dying before reaching England this week because of an appalling combination of fog and winds around the coast, according to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).

Some fishermen have told the charity of the deaths of many exhausted and disorientated “garden” birds plunging into the sea around their vessels, a spokesman said.

Where the heck is global warming?

As Kevin Trenberth might say.

  1. Meanwhile, clocks illustrate the irony.

  2. October CET is already running at 0.5C below 1961-90 average (which in turn is, from memory, about 0.4C lower than 1981-2010).

    We could easily be a full degree down by the end of month.

    YTD is also running lower than 1981-2010, despite the mild start to the year.

  3. tallbloke says:

    Thanks Paul,

    Here the MET graph for 2012 from your link

  4. tchannon says:

    I read it as watching reality.

    RSPB are not entirely rational.

    What is going on is natural, Darwin at work: This sorts out fitness for purpose.

    The range of a plant or animal is partially set by climate, which involves much more than a single parameter such as temperature. Plants and animals are inherently selfish and greedy, also comes from Darwin, a drive for life which leads to range expansion or it goes extinct.

    Reality gnaws at the limits, both the old core in various ways and killing the outer fringe.

    Mobility is one facet. Some are able to migrate by season or life phase. Trees can’t but some migrate in a sense by going dormant.

  5. Roger Andrews says:

    As I recollect the bitter winter of 1963 – and I recollect it well – began with a snowfall in late October 1962.

    [Reply] Where were you in Oct 62?

  6. Nick Stokes says:

    Well, TB, I have tribal memories of June 1975 when the Aussies complained of having to play cricket in the snow (Headingley, I think). That game went on, but some didn’t.

  7. Roger Andrews says:

    Doing my master’s degree at the University of Birmingham

  8. Stephen Richards says:

    Roger Andrews says:

    October 27, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    As I recollect the bitter winter of 1963 – and I recollect it well – began with a snowfall in late October 1962.

    So do I. I rode a BSA C10 at that time but for 3 months I could only ride by sitting on the back of a friend’s 500. Needed someone on the back with his feet to the ground to keep the bike upright. I also remember the cricket match of ’75. It was at Buxton, Derbyshire and it was abandoned with several inches of snow on the wicket.

    I played cricket in Suffolk and remember playing in August near the Adnams brewery. It was so cold that one of our bowlers was wearing 6 pullovers. After the match we saw that the temperature was officially recorded at 7°C.

    However, none of this is relevent except to show that the clilmate has not changed significantly over the past 40 to 50 years and probably won’t over the next 40 to 50 years.

    Incidently, I remember the winter of ’62 63 very well. I was an apprentice with the GPO telecoms and spent that winter up poles and down holes. Manhole covers froze in the ground and needed a very strong blow torch to open, tea froze in the pot before we could get from the pole to the tent. I remember it being the worst winter in 250 years (UK Met Off).
    The winter of ’62/3 had several distinct phases. First was a severe fog/smog in the SE of england which lasted for several days and became a freezing fog bringing down lines with the weight of ice. As the apprentice, I had to walk in front of the lorry to get it back to the depot.
    The second phase came on christmas night/Boxing morning when snow fell with a severe easterly wind after a week of easterlies and temps at 1°C. Even in london there were drifts of snow about 2ft deep but outside london we had anything over 4ft in the towns and more in the country.

  9. Brian H says:

    Ah, the good ol’ days!

  10. Stephen Richards says:

    Ah yes Brian, sad ole gits ??? as my children call me.

  11. Gray says:

    I was seven in 62-63. I remember the snow drifting over the garden wall which is still 3ft tall. Then we had freezing rain on the snow. My younger brothers could walk on this crust whereas I was too big and broke through the layer. My job was to walk to the local garage to get the paraffin. On the doorstep the milk would freeze and several inches would protrude from the bottle.

    It was great fun they even let us wear long trousers to school 🙂

  12. AJB says:

    Useful summary of past UK winters:

    Remember 1963 well, the South West got hit pretty hard. Milking 200 cows twice a day was a total nightmare. Sheep fellas on Dartmoor had it far worse though.

    You do realise the UEA was established on the 29th of September 1962 and opened in October 1963. Must have been some sort of omen 🙂

  13. english guys..

    Note 1929 jpg

  14. Entropic man says:

    Ah, 1963. Skating at Earith and above Denver Sluice in East Anglia.I was 11. 1967 was just as good, but I only remember one skateable year after 1979.
    How quickly we forget. My outdoor museum in Northern Ireland hold an evening Halloween event each year, with small plays. Out of the eight years I’ve worked there three have been frosty and one, ( 2009?) had snow on the outside of my tent and frozen breath on the inside!

  15. Gray says:

    The BBC report three inches of snow in the West Country and asked what caused it? Could this be the first reality check of the winter for the Beeb… Video at link.