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 1950 (February):
One of the WETTEST Februarys across England & Wales. Using the EWP series, it ranks in the 'top-5' of such months.
 1950 (April):
A heavy SNOWFALL on the 25th and 26th in 1950 caused much damage in south east England, bringing down over a thousand telegraph poles and numerous trees.
A clutch of what is thought to be three tornadoes, one of which did considerable damage, moved from the Wendover to Linslade area in the NW Home Counties. Much damage, with heavy rain and large hail.
  1950 (26th September): 'BLUE MOON' EVENT
Smoke particles from large-scale forest fires in Alberta, Canada were blown across NW Europe on strong upper-level winds and led to the widespread viewing of a very rare 'blue moon' event. The base of the pollutant cloud was around 12000 ft and the top circa 20000 to 25000 ft. In addition, the sun was coloured when it appeared through gaps in the cloud. Aircraft traversing the cloud were covered by an oily substance believed to be a resinous distillate from the burning wood.
 1951 (March):
Notably WET across England & Wales. Using the EWP series, just into the 'top10' of such-named months.
 1951 (November):
Notably WET across Britain & Ireland. By the England & Wales precipitation (EWP/Hadley) series, it was firmly in the 'top-10' of WETTEST Novembers for England & Wales, with 180 mm, or around twice the long-term average. It was also exceptionally wet across Scotland (wettest November in the 20th century) & Northern Ireland. [EWP &c]
 1951 (December):
Several episodes of HIGH WINDS affected the British Isles towards the end of December 1951. The most violent event occurred on the 30th: it caused extensive and widespread DAMAGE, with FLOODING in some coastal spots. Considered at the time as the most extensive and severe gale in Scotland since 1927. Several DEATHS. The strongest GUSTS were 94 kn at Millport (Isle of Bute), 87 kn Bell Rock (North Sea/east of Dundee), 85 kn Benbecula and Tiree (Hebrides) and 88 kn Edinburgh (Turnhouse) airport. The WIND at Benbecula average 73 kn (F12) over a one hour period in the morning. [HS/23]
 1952 (March):
March 29th (Saturday): Many roads in the south-east (of England) blocked by SNOW as a belt of precipitation moved north from France against STRONG/GALE force easterly winds. DRIFTING occurred in the strong winds and drifts were reported as ..."some feet deep". This was 'Boat Race' day, and the event was rowed in a 'BLIZZARD'. There was widespread DISRUPTION to sporting events on that day across southern Britain, especially to football matches. This may be one of the worst late-March SNOWFALLS of the 20th century.
 1952 (15th/16th August): THE LYNMOUTH DISASTROUS FLOODS
After frequent heavy rainfall had, over the previous couple of weeks, saturated the hinterland of Exmoor above Lynton and Lynmouth, another heavy and persistent rainfall event started around midday on the 15th August and lasted for over 21 hours, with estimated rainfalls of over 11 inches (~275mm): Approximately 135mm (out of a total of 228.6mm) is thought to have fallen in just 5 hours at the gauge at Longstone Barrow, on Exmoor. All this RAIN had nowhere to soak to (due to the character of the geology), and swelled the rivers East and West Lyn, draining through Lynmouth before reaching the sea. 34 people were killed, hundreds became homeless and many houses were demolished with cars carried away. [NB: persistent stories, both at the time and subsequently, link this event to cloud-seeding trials then being undertaken; it has been conclusively proved that these had nothing to do with the high intensity rainfall event that triggered this disaster.]
 1952 (Autumn):
Notably COLD. The CET value of 7.9degC for the three months September, October & November represented an anomaly on the 1961-90 LTA of (minus) 2.3degC (see also 1993).
> September: was the COLDEST such month (CET) in the 20th century. At Oxford (Radcliffe Observatory), it was the COLDEST September since its records began in 1815.
> November: from the 27th to 30th HEAVY SNOW in a belt from (south) Wales to East Anglia gave depths up to 20cm to 25cm and huge drifts built up on the hills. At Whipsnade, Chilterns, level SNOW lay 10 inches deep, with DRIFTS eight feet high in the village. (GPE)
 1952 (5th to 9th December): MAJOR LONDON SMOG
An intense 'SMOG' event (Smoke + Fog) which was responsible for the deaths of at least 4000 people, mainly elderly - representing a 6 or 7 fold increase over the normal death-rate during the period. Led to pressure on politicians which resulted in the introduction of the 1956 Clean Air Act.
 1953 (January):
The British Railways car ferry 'Princess Victoria' sailing in the Irish Sea from Stranraer (SW Scotland) to Larne (Northern Ireland) foundered in the early afternoon of the 31st January, 1953, with a loss of 132 lives (out of total sailing 174). All the women and children aboard were killed as their lifeboat was overturned as it was being launched away from the stricken ferry. The SEVERE GALE that the vessel encountered was produced by the same intense DEPRESSION that caused the disaster along North Sea coastal regions (see below). Several smaller ships were also sunk off the NW British/Irish coasts.
A northerly severe gale / violent storm (mean speeds up to 70 knots / 80 mph, with gusts in exposed areas in excess of 100 knots / 115 mph) developed as a depression (which had formed near the Azores) deepened as it moved east-northeast just to the north of Scotland (between Fair Isle and south Shetland 00UTC and 06UTC on the 31st January), then, still deepening, turned & accelerated southeastwards across the North Sea, making landfall in the Elbe-Weser estuary in NW Germany late evening of the 31st. As a result of the storm, the ferry 'Princess Victoria' foundered during a crossing of the Irish Sea, with the loss of 132 souls [ see entry above]. Much damage (loss of timber) was done to afforested areas in Scotland too.
The major well-known effect of this storm was due to a combination of events, which brought tragedy to many living in low-lying areas on either side of the southern North Sea. The rapidly reducing pressure (mslp ~ 968 mbar as the low crossed sea area 'Forties' in the northern North Sea) allowed a rise in water level; a sharp recovery (or rise) in pressure to the west of Ireland, tightened the gradient on the western flank of the low; the state of the tide (spring / full-moon) and of course the driving of huge quantities of water towards the narrower southern portion of the North Sea gave rise to severe inundation of coastal areas in England (from the Humber estuary in the north to the Thames Estuary & east Kent coast in the south), Belgium and the Netherlands with much loss of life. The situation was not helped due to the fact that the rivers were full, attempting to discharge greater-than-average quantities of winter rain-water against the wind-driven surge.
The Storm Tide Warning Service (UK) was inaugurated after these floods, though the Dutch had had a similar service since the early part of the 20th century. The disaster also prompted the eventual building of the Thames Barrier at Woolwich though it was not in place until some 30 years (opened 1984) after these events. In addition to the human cost (over 300 died in the UK and around 2000 people drowned in The Netherlands & Belgium; many tens-of-thousands were evacuated in all three countries & there was a great loss of livestock), agricultural land was contaminated by salt-water for many years, and of course much structural damage resulted. The Second World War had only ended in 1945, some 8 years previously, and this event hit the populations and economy of the nations on either side of the North Sea at a time when they were just beginning to see the first fruits of post-War reconstruction. This is now regarded as the worst peace-time natural disaster to affect the UK since the Second World War, in terms of loss of life (officially 307) - see also Aberfan in 1966.
A large area was affected by THUNDERSTORMS on the 26th of June (in a notably thundery second half of the month). 72 mm of RAIN was recorded in 55 minutes at Windermere, Lake District. Just over the border in Dumfries & Galloway, HEAVY RAIN at Eskdalemuir produced 107mm in one event, of which 80mm fell in 30 minutes - a record for that length of time.
 1953 (Annual):
A notably DRY year across England and Wales (using the EWP series). In the top two-dozen driest years in that series [begins 1766].
 1954 (end January/early February):
SEVERE weather with bitterly cold conditions affected many eastern, central & southern areas of England from January 29th through the first week of February, as pressure remained high over Scandinavia (coupling with a strong ridge from the North Atlantic) & low over the near continent. The icy weather extended on initially strong, 'biting' east or northeast winds to Cornwall & the Isles of Scilly: day-time maximum TEMPERATURES at normally mild spots such as Falmouth failed to rise above FREEZING for several days. SNOW was a significant factor for many across southern Britain, with villages in Kent cut-off as snowdrifts of over 2 metres were reported. It was even harsher on the continent. (some of this from 'Weather Eye' / Issue 19 / Ian Currie)
A lack-lustre summer with below-average TEMPERATURES & above-average RAINFALL. Using the CET series, the two months July and August had anomalies some 1.8 & 1.1C (respectively) below the all-series LTA & the summer-time anomaly was -1.2C. Of the three 'standard' summer months, June was the COLDEST but July had the largest negative anomaly: -1.8C. Two of weekends in that month in the south had RAINFALL of 40mm or more in 24hr: by the EWP series, the overall RAINFALL surplus was around 50% on the LTA.
A marked lack of SUNSHINE, with just 80h at Aber (North Wales), and 86h at Aldergrove (Belfast). The summer was dominated by westerly winds (succession of depressions). This is thought by many to have been the worst summer in the second half of the 20th century taking the country as a whole, and specifically, looking at the southeast of England / London, probably the worst using a combination of DULL skies & low TEMPERATURES in the entire century. For 'South Wessex' (e.g., Dorset / SW Hampshire etc.), it was equal-2nd poorest summer over that same period. [Latter comments based on my 'Summer Index' series HERE]
 1954 (December):
17th-18th: A prolonged orographic fall of RAIN brought 256.5mm in 22.5 hours at Loch Quoich (Cruadhach) on 17-18 December 1954. Had the fall not been split across two rainfall days (153mm was recorded on 17th, and 110mm on the 18th), this event would have ranked as the largest daily total on record to that time. (see Burt, 'Weather'/RMetS/August 2005)
 1954 (Annual):
HIGHEST RAINFALL (UK) in any one calendar year known: 6527 mm at Sprinkling Tarn, Cumbria (was Cumberland).
The year dominated by cyclonic and/or westerly types, with depressions favouring a more southerly track than the 'normal'. Large annual RAINFALL totals in the north & west of the British Isles. (Ref:10)
Using the EWP series (begins 1766), this year's total of 1093 mm placed it within the top-20 of WETTEST years across England & Wales.
 1955 (May):
Notable "FEN-BLOW" as a south-westerly GALE set in on the 4th May and lasted for the best part of two days. At the peak of the gale, the wind averaged between 30 and 39 kt, with GUSTS as high as 56 kt. - followed a very DRY April.(GPE)
On the 17th May 1955, the heaviest SNOWFALL in London in May for about 100 years, when snow fell for 2-3 hours across practically the whole of England, accompanied by a widespread SEVERE GALE. One of the LATEST SNOWFALL events across southern England known (TEC) - see also 1935. Roads in the Peak District and South Wales were BLOCKED, and Sheffield reported a local depth of some 2 to 4 inches. An 'inch or so' across the Cotswolds and the Chilterns, and also in the centre of Birmingham - for this latter city, it was noted at the time as being the 'worst May SNOWSTORM for 60 years'. [Melting quickly though ](GPE): (the snow came after a period of HEAVY RAIN.) This is probably the last time (up to 2013) that there was substantial snow in May in London.)
MAXIMUM TEMPERATURES of only 5 degC in the south Midlands on the 17th (associated with the snow at 1.)
The two summer months of July & August, 1955, were generally FINE, WARM & VERY SUNNY across the entire British Isles. It was particularly SUNNY over Scotland and Northern Ireland; it is thought that it was the SUNNIEST July in their record, not even beaten by the spectacular events in July, 2006 (q.v.); as regards TEMPERATURES, using the Central England Temperature (CET) series, the anomaly averaged over these two months was around +2C above the all-series mean, and July 1955 specifically, with a CET value of 17.7degC, was the WARMEST such month since 1934.
By the England & Wales Precipitation series (EWP), the %age was roughly 40% averaged over that domain. However, the generally DRY weather was interrupted for some by some notable TORRENTIAL DOWNPOURS .. see 2. below.
(18th July): MARTINSTOWN INTENSE RAINSTORM: In a 15 hr period on this date, 279.4 mm of rain fell, which is thought to be the highest within a 24 hr period for the U.K. Recorded in the town of Martinstown, near Dorchester in Dorset. The peak RAINFALL fell in 4.5 hours from 1430 GMT, when it is estimated that some 190 mm were recorded. Severe FLOODING, particularly in Weymouth. (NB: using an unofficial rain-collector, it is estimated that the peak rainfall may have been as high as 355mm.)
 1955 (Annual):
A notably DRY year across England and Wales (using the EWP series). The value of 773 mm places it around 30th rank in that lengthy series. (EWP)
 1956 (February):
In 1956, February was outstandingly COLD, especially in England and Wales, with the mean TEMPERATURE for the month just below freezing (CET -0.2degC) and about 4C below the normal (4th coldest February of the 20th century & 8th coldest in the entire series). The sea froze along the south coast and cakes of ice piled on the beach in places 30cm high. 165 hours of continuous FROST occurred at many places inland from 18th to 25th February, 1956. On the 3rd, MINIMUM TEMPERATURES fell to below (minus) 15 degC at several places in the south and south-west of England.
All southern counties westwards to Cornwall had SNOWFALLS - these most intense in Kent where conditions were bad all through the month, with a climax 18th to 27th when traffic in Thanet and in the country behind Dover was badly disrupted by DRIFTS of snow up to 12ft. (circa 3.7m). The London area missed any heavy snow, but on the afternoon of the 19th, a short-lived HEAVY SNOW shower produced 2 inches (circa 5cm) of dry SNOW in half-an-hour on Hampstead Heath.
[ 1st/2nd: Exceptionally deep cold pool {TTHK minimum ~497dam} moved down southern North Sea, very close to Kent: 33 cm SNOW Sedlescombe and 18 cm Hastings (East Sussex). ('Weather'/RMetS/Jan 2011/Pike & Webb) ]
[ 19th/20th: sub 510 dam cold pool English Channel - depths of SNOW 25-38 cm East Kent with 3.5 m drifts, 25 cm Cornwall, 11 cm in 24 hours Plymouth/Mount Batten, 5 cm in 30 mins Hampstead pm. ('Weather'/RMetS/Jan 2011/Pike & Webb) ]
(from 'Weather' February, 2006) . . . " 50 years ago, Britain was suffering from one of the COLDEST spells of weather of the twentieth century under persistent easterly WINDS. On the 1st February, the TEMPERATURE at Kew Observatory (west London) rose no higher than 24degF(-4degC) and fell to 14degF(-10degC) the following night. On the 10th February, SNOW fell for 24 hours at Scarborough with DRIFTS in Yorkshire between 3 and 4ft (1 and 1.25m). Worse was to come towards the end of the month with more than 165 hours of continuous FROST in places between 18th and 25th February. SNOW drifted to 6-12ft (2-4m) in east Kent between 18th & 27th February, with level depths between 9-12 inches (22-30cm). February 1956 was the 4th COLDEST February of the twentieth century on the Central England Temperature series, with a mean TEMPERATURE of -0.2degC. Conditions were also severe in mainland Europe. "
 1956 (Summer):
To follow a dry year, a notably WET summer! The total RAINFALL (using the EWP measure) = 331mm, representing something like 160% of the all-series LTA. August 1956 was especially WET; in the 'top-5' or so of wettest Augusts in that series. In the London area (based on Kew Observatory), it was one of the WETTEST years in a very long record. England & Wales was affected by a rapid succession of DEPRESSIONS giving very unsettled weather. {In my summer-index series for London / SE England, this summer was No.2, behind (just) 1954}
August Bank Holiday Monday (6th): Severe HAILSTORM and INTENSE / HEAVY RAIN at Tunbridge Wells (Kent), with roads severely affected, traffic dislocated: FLOODING. Accumulated HAIL was several feet deep. COLDEST August Bank Holiday in London since 1880. Cool northerly airstream. One of the worst August Bank Holidays on record.
29th July: VIOLENT GALE affected much of southern England, south Wales and the English Channel region as a DEPRESSION deepened below 980 mbar as it progressed up the SW Approaches to be over the East Midlands by midday 29th. The strongest GUST measured was 76 kn at Culdrose (Cornwall), which at the time was the greatest wind speed measured in July over the British Isles since before 1920. There was considerable DAMAGE to trees etc., along the south coast with many trees blocking roads. Shipping in trouble around south British coasts & building DAMAGE inland. [HS/23]
 1956 (December):
Troughs brought SNOW 23rd to the 26th to all but the southwest. By the 26th/27th: 2 to 4 inches [5 - 10cm] of snow in the south Midlands; 6 to 8 inches [up to 20cm] north Midlands and over the Welsh mountains. (A ' WHITE CHRISTMAS ' event.)
 1957 (June):
On the 8th in 1957, 203mm (estimate) of RAIN fell at Camelford in Cornwall, with 140mm of that falling in just 2 hours. Considerable amounts of HAIL(**) - perhaps up to 2 feet deep! [** the hail element led to the total precipitation having to be estimated due to problems with blockage of the gauge.] There was severe FLOODING in the area with four bridges destroyed or badly DAMAGED - there were enormous drifts of HAIL in Camelford. [This area is renowned for sudden flooding of this type - see for example the 'Boscastle Storm' entry in 2004 (August)]
 1957 (August):
GALES were widespread, and according to Lamb, "unusually prolonged & strong for the time of year" around the British Isles and across the southern North Sea between the 23rd and the 25th. They caused widespread DAMAGE, with BftF9 especially prevalent on the 25th. [HS/23]
 1957 (December):
Apart from a temporary break during the afternoon of the 4th, FOG persisted from about midnight on the 3rd until the early morning of the 5th across much of SE England, including the London area. It was not particularly dense in central London but VISIBILITY was down to 20 yards at times at Kew Observatory in the more rural surroundings of Kew Gardens. This FOG will be remembered as the main cause of the Lewisham rail disaster, in which 90 people were killed when a steam train smashed into the rear of a stationary electric unit. As well as the deaths and other casualties, a considerable amount of damage was done to the track-bed, viaduct etc., and much disruption ensued.
 1957 (Annual):
A noteworthy SUNNY year for England and Wales.
At Aber (Gwynedd / N.Wales), a MAXIMUM TEMPERATURE of 18.3degC was recorded on the 27th : the (equal) highest known for the UK (and Wales) for January. (see also 1971 & 2003).
Cold air swept south on the 19th, with 15cm of SNOW over large parts of the country; 40cm of snow lay over northern Scotland, and 25cms of snow lay across Essex on the 24th. At the start of the last week of January (21st), a polar depression brought very HEAVY SNOWFALL to the extreme southeast. At Shoeburyness, level SNOW was some 23inches / circa 57cm deep, and many towns/villages experienced transport / communication problems. At the same time, biting north winds were carrying a good deal of SNOW into Cornwall (vigorous instability).
 1958 (Summer):
A notably WET summer across England & Wales. The anomaly was circa 150% of LTA. June was particularly WET in the London area - at Kew Observatory, some 105mm of RAIN fell (~240% LTA).
 1958 (5th September): HEAVIEST HAILSTONE
What is thought to be the heaviest recorded hailstone to fall in the U.K. fell at Horsham, Sussex. 141g (5 oz) is usually listed with diameters of up to 6cm. Regarded as one of the most violent hailstorms in the modern day record and accompanied by a tornado. The storm complex was regarded as one of the most violent (actually a series of VIOLENT THUNDERSTORMS) of recent times. They were accompanied by TORNADOES (at least two) as they moved north eastwards across much of Sussex into Kent and Essex (thus skirting the eastern and southern suburbs of Greater London) causing considerable DAMAGE / FLOODING: large trees were DAMAGED and a petrol station was 'destroyed'. At Gatwick airport, a GUST of 74 knots was recorded and a hangar was wrecked.
The FLOODING (from the storm complex above) led to the closure of the main London to Southend road for some hours during the night. 131mm of RAIN fell in two hours at Knockholt, Kent (but some reports say 128mm in 3 hours!); 63.5mm of RAINFALL in 20 minutes at Sidcup, Kent on the 5th is a record for such a period, and 75mm fell in a number of places in Essex. An observer looking out from Tunbridge Wells reported that " the whole NW horizon was ablaze (from LIGHTNING activity) - the strokes were too rapid to be distinguished. (TER).
 1959 (Spring):
Another fine and WARM spring (Mar+Apr+May), and especially noteworthy because it led into a reasonable summer (q.v.) CET values for these months were: Mar 7.3(+1.6), Apr 9.4(+1.5), May 12.8(+1.6).
The summer of 1959 was one of the FINEST/LONGEST of the (20th) century; some of the highest temperatures occurred in July.
July, 1959, was the sixth consecutive month with ABOVE NORMAL MEAN TEMPERATURE.
On the 9th July, HAILSTONES of up to 5 cm diameter caused considerable damage in the Wokingham area (Berkshire) [ the "Wokingham storm" ]. Dense radar coverage of the storm on the 9th (dubbed subsequently as a SUPERCELL storm) led to the formulation of the now accepted theories of severe travelling storm formation and development.
On the 11th July, during a major DOWNPOUR, 63.5mm of RAIN was recorded in 20 mins at Hindolveston (Norfolk), a record for that period.
 1959 (May to September):
This 5-month period is regarded as the DRIEST such period for more than 200 years; just over half-average RAINFALL across much of England and Wales, with some places even less. September 1959 in particular was EXCEPTIONALLY DRY: by the EWP series, with just 8mm of RAIN, it ranks as the DRIEST September in that set (as at 2013), and one of a dozen or so DRIEST "any-name" month. The eight week period from second half of August to early October 1959, was regarded as unusually DRY. (see also 1980).
Also regarded as noteworthy for the HIGH TEMPERATURES once again ... 1959 of course stands out for this reason. (see below). The individual CET monthly values (with anomalies rel. to 1961-90 averages) were: Aug:17.2(+1.4), Sep:14.9(+1.3),Oct:12.6(+2.0)
 1959 (Annual):
A WARM year (see also above), with the mean CET value=10.5degC (+1.0degC above 1961-90 long-term average.) These annual values not reached or exceeded again until 1989 and 1990!
St.Helier (Jersey/CI) recorded 2290.7 hr of BRIGHT SUNSHINE this year - apparently a record for the British Isles since at least 1925 (the first year of this record) & perhaps since 1900 (GPE): [see also 1893, 1990 & 2003].
(Of historical note: the foundation stone for the Meteorological Office HQ building in Bracknell, Berkshire was laid in the autumn of this year - the Office left Bracknell during the latter half of 2003).
 1959/60 (Winter):
By the EWP series, the winter was WET with 374mm (roughly 150% LTA) .. the WETTEST winter since that of 1915/16. (NB: following an exceptionally DRY summer / early autumn).
 1950-1959  1960-1969  1970-1974
Back to main historical menu.
 1960 (Autumn):
East Devon FLOODS, after repetitive HEAVY RAINFALL. Using data up to 2013, this was the third WETTEST autumn in the EWP data-set, with only 1852 and 2000 significantly wetter. July and August were also WET, as was the previous winter (see above). The combination of events led to FLOODS reported from many parts of the country come the autumn.
 1960 (Annual):
A notably WET year, particularly by the EWP series. The value of 1195.0 mm of RAIN for the year was not exceeded during the 20th century, and ranks 6th in the all-time EWP series [as of 2013]: the others are 1872 (wettest) with 1285mm; 1768 (2nd wettest) with 1247mm, 2012 (3rd wettest) with 1244mm, 2000 (fourth wettest) with 1232mm & 1852 (fifth wettest) with 1213mm. Therefore, 1960 was the WETTEST year in that series since 1872!
The period July to November, 1960: WETTEST such period since 1727 for England and Wales.
For the period July 1960 to February 1961, each month had above average RAINFALL by the EWP series, with some notably so e.g. October 1960, which was the 5th WETTEST in the series to that point (now, after 2000 the 6th WETTEST). For the period July to October, 1960, over 170% of average rainfall had fallen, and for the 8 month period noted here, the anomaly was just over 150%. It is not surprising then that FLOODING was a notable feature of the months in the second half of 1960.
 1961 (January):
The month ended on a STORMY note. On the 27th, the mean hourly WIND speed at Lerwick Observatory between 1700 & 1800 GMT was 64 kn (Bft F12 .. but meaned over 60 minutes, not 10 minutes) and a GUST of 95 knots (109 mph) was recorded there at 1745 GMT. (NB: Saxa Vord recorded a GUST of 143 knots/elevation 935 feet.) At the time, due to the mean wind speed quoted above, it was noted as the 'Shetland Hurricane' (not physcially so of course); no-one was killed or injured on land, but a Russian refrigerated factory-trawler ('Olenek') foundered in the early hours of the 27th, with 13 of its crew lost at sea - another 13 being saved by another trawler in the fleet.
 1961 (early Spring):
February, March and April notably WARM. CET values were (with anomalies rel. to 1961-90 averages) Feb: 6.9(+3.1),Mar: 8.2(+2.5), Apr:10.0(+2.1).
  1961 (16th/17th September): EX-HURRICANE 'DEBBIE'
Residual elements of the Atlantic hurricane 'Debbie' (presumably wrapped-up within a 'standard' mid-latitude cyclone) led to severe gales affecting 'Atlantic' Ireland, much of Scotland and the northern Isles. In the most intense phase on the 16th new records for strongest GUSTS occurred in Ireland, notably 93 knots at Shannon airport & 98 kn at Malin Head. Later in the day & early on the 17th, Lerwick Observatory (southern tip of Shetland) recorded a mean hourly WIND speed of 53 knots / 98 km/h, and a GUST of 77 knots / 142 km/hr, which at the time was the highest recorded since the Observatory opened in 1921. Severe dislocation of transport & electrical supplies in Ireland, with significant loss of woodland. Also, the deaths of at least 16 people. (GBWFF, HS/23)
 1961 (December):
As the Scandinavian/north Russian high pressure extended westwards from the 14th, the weather became progressively colder: 18th: Onset of period of SEVERE FROSTS lasting till early January 1962. Skating began in the south on 25th. The Christmas period was one of the COLDEST on record. TEMPERATURES fell to 12degF (converts to around minus 11degC) at Eskdalemuir on Christmas Day morning, and to 9 degF (converts to around minus 13degC) at Edinburgh on the morning of the 27th. On the 28th, TEMPERATURES remained sub-zero in many places.
Rain, preceded by SLEET & SNOW over southern England on the 29th, and SNOW was widespread in the Midlands and the North. On the last day of the year, there was HEAVY SNOWFALL in southern and central England, level snow extensively over 1 foot (30 cm) deep.
 1962 (16th February): SHEFFIELD WIND-STORM
Great damage done to the city, particularly to many prefabricated homes. Sheffield experienced winds of at least 65 knots with reported gusts of 80 knots or more. Not too far away wind speeds much less. Thought to be an extreme case of lee-wave enhancement of the airflow downwind of the Pennines. The intense DEPRESSION producing the very strong gradient flow was responsible for widespread DAMAGE elsewhere across Britain & a disastrous STORM-SURGE down the North Sea coastline of NW Germany, Holland & Belgium. [HS/23]
 1962 (March):
With a CET=2.8degC, easily the COLDEST March in the 20th century, and the coldest March since 1892 (CET=2.7degC), but not in the 'top-10' of coldest Marches.
 1962 (November):
From the 8th, as winds came more from a continental (easterly) direction, TEMPERATURES fell steadily, then abruptly on the 11th as Russian/arctic air spread west. The following weekend (16th/17th) was one of the STORMIEST/MOST SNOWY on record for November. GALES were widespread, GUSTS of 75 knots being recorded on the Isles of Scilly on both the 16th and 17th, and SLEET/SNOW fell practically everywhere. Level SNOW was 7 inches (circa 17cm) deep in parts of Scotland, with DRIFTS of 3 feet (circa 1 metre), and roads were BLOCKED, traffic dislocated as far south as Devon, Cornwall & Somerset. COLD, northerly winds persisted for several days, with widespread FROST.
 1962 (December): LAST 'OLD-STYLE' LONDON SMOG
The final 'major' old style London SMOG occurred in this month (4th to 6th): i.e. a combination of domestic coal smoke plus sulphur dioxide products producing an acidic fog droplet, which in turn caused major respiratory problems. About a thousand people died as a result. During the fog, the smoke & sulphur dioxide content in the atmosphere increased to a maximum of 10 to 14 times the normal concentration. This was noted at the time as the 'worst' since December, 1952. The FOG/FROST were most severe/persistent in low-lying areas of the Thames Valley and, in general, VISIBILITY in central London was better than it was in the suburbs. VISIBILITY on Thursday evening at times less than 5 yards over much of the Greater London area; bus services were suspended and London Transport ordered its bus fleet to make for the nearest garage. Other forms of transport were seriously dislocated. Thousands of cars abandoned.
Note: from 'The Climate of the British Isles', the following figures are given for the number of hours of thick fog (visibility < 200 m) and dense fog (visibility < 50 m) in central London.

 Thick fog  Dense fog
 December 1952 event:  81  69
 December 1962 event:  63  30
 December 1972 (all months):  1  1

and of course now, in the 21st century, such fogs are almost unknown in central London, such is the change in pollution levels.]

The last week of December 1962 was very SNOWY: heavy snowfalls in many areas on the 25th and 26th were followed on the 29th and 30th by BLIZZARDS in southern England when deep drifts isolated towns and villages. This was the start of the "great winter of 62/63", the coldest in the 20th century (see below).
Exceptionally SUNNY over England & Wales, though presumably not in the areas affected by the smog (above)!

The very COLD SPELL that started just before Christmas 1962 persisted throughout January, February and early March. One of the four or five COLDEST WINTERS in the CET record, and the COLDEST of the 20th century. (See also 1813/14; 1739/40 and 1683/84).
One of only four winters in the CET record when consecutive months had sub-zero mean TEMPERATURES: January 1963 (-2.1) & February (-0.7). [The others are January & February 1684, January & February 1740 & December 1878 / January 1879.] (see also below)
Moor House, Westmorland had 34 days with MAXIMUM TEMPERATURE 0.0degC or less from 23rd December 1962 until 25th January, 1963. (Higher level stations would easily exceed this). [See also the individual entries below . . . . ]
The coldest month in CET record for the 20th century occurred in the January that was part of the severe winter of 1962/63. The value was -2.1degC, beating the -1.9degC of February 1947, and placing it about fifth in the all-series record of coldest months.
This was the coldest winter (by the CET series) of the century, and the second coldest (after 1739/40) in the entire series. The wintry weather (frequent, often heavy snowfall/severe frosts) set in just after the shortest day and lasted with only minor interruptions until early March. Snow remained on the ground for a good part of this period. Notable persistence of easterly winds to south of Scandinavian blocking high. NB: HOWEVER ... an analysis (published in 1963) using Glasgow (Renfrew/Abbotsinch) from 1921, and before that Glasgow Observatory suggests that this winter was the SECOND coldest in the composite series from the winter of 1868/69 ... the COLDEST WINTER for the Glasgow area being 1878/79. (Over 450 football matches postponed - 'Pools' panel invented?); The sea froze for some distance offshore in Kent (?north shore/Thames Estuary?) , and ICE FLOES were a frequent observation in the lower Thames and across the Estuary; Lamb (TEC) has this: " At this time (late January / early February) there was ICE about in the southern North Sea and near the Goodwin Sands in the Straits of Dover, with a belt of ICE a mile or more in width along the coasts of Kent. Explosives were used to free ships in an Essex port. Upriver at Hampton Court the river could be crossed on foot". Farms in remote regions of the west were isolated for over 2 months. Amongst long-term problems that the adverse weather generated was a sharp rise in unemployment in the building (& allied) trades - a highly seasonal occupation, and a rise in insurance premiums. Local authorities also faced a huge bill for road repairs after frost-heave, as well as the short-term costs of keeping the roads etc., clear of SNOW.
 1963 (February):
After 120 years of quiet, Mount Agung (Bali, Indonesia / East Indies) began erupting on February 18th (some references have 19th). A series of major explosions produced destructive avalanches of various pyroclastic material on March 17th & May 16th, destroying many villages & killing around 2000 people. The explosive clouds of gas and volcanic dust reached heights of more than 10km above the crater, high enough to reach the stratosphere. The atmospheric effects, including dramatically coloured sunsets & haloes around the sun, encircled the earth within a few weeks; there was a decrease in light measured from distant stars, with the decrease at a maximum between August to November 1963, lasting to some extent until mid-1964. Stratospheric TEMPERATURES rose as much as 6degC, and the average world near-surface TEMPERATURE dropped 0.4degC for 3 years after the eruptions.[VOLC]
Exceptionally WET in parts of Scotland & SW England, southern Wales etc. Combined with some rapid SNOWMELT (mild air/HEAVY RAIN) early month, FLOODING a significant problem for these regions. All stations recorded above average RAINFALL. More than three-times the average rainfall in parts of Scotland and the south-west of England.
 1963/64 (Winter):
An EXCEPTIONALLY DRY winter for many parts of central and southern Britain. The combined (Dec to Feb) rainfall in the EWP series was = 89mm (~35% of mean ). As of 2012, this was the DRIEST winter in that series. This DRY winter was part of an extended 'DROUGHT' episode (over at least the English lowlands) that is reckoned to run from December 1963 to February 1965 (15 months). Note also that this period of markedly reduced rainfall was immediately followed by a period four consecutive very WET years - see below: recent 'flip-flop' events should be put in such context! ['Weather'/RMetSoc, April 2013]
 1964 (July):
15minute RAINFALL of 55.9mm at Bolton, Greater Manchester: 18 July 1964. This is noteworthy, as the month overall was on the dry side, with only the northwest of Scotland and the western Isles having above average rainfall. At Dyce, for example, only 36mm/41% of RAIN was recorded. Glasgow had 45mm of RAIN, 57% of the long-period average.
 1964 (Annual):
In the EWP series, just 725mm of RAIN, one of the DRIEST of the 20th century. The other dry years are 1921 (probably the DRIEST) at 629mm, and 1933 with 718mm.
 1965-1968 (Annual series):
These four years all achieved over 1000 mm in the EWP series, and were thus the WETTEST period of four consecutive years since 1927-30.
[ Important: just as these four years had been WET, the previous four years (1961-1964) had experienced DRIER-than-average conditions, 1962 & 1964 notably so: the British climate is notorious for these 'flip-flops' and the modern panic surrounding such variations needs to be put in this historical context. ]
Three (out of 8) cooling towers at the Ferrybridge power station near Doncaster (South Yorkshire) collapsed in very strong winds, and the five remaining towers were all damaged significantly. The nearest anemometer recording (about 12km / 7.5 miles away) produced a highest (60-minute) mean wind speed of around 40 kt / 45mph, and gusts were thought to be of the order 74 kt / 85 mph at the base of the towers. These values are not of themselves excessive either generally, or for the particular location, and the problem was not so much the wind strength, but that air was forced between one group of badly-sited towers in an enhanced way to the second (leeward of the first group), causing the collapse. Pre-construction tests (using a wind tunnel) had only considered an isolated tower, not the grouping planned; neither had gusts and local eddying (particularly possible lee-wave enhancement) been allowed for. It is now considered that the gust values at the tops of the towers were some 90 kt / just over 100mph.
 1965/66 (Winter):
Notably DULL (in a composite series) across Central Southern & SE England; the nominal value was 125.3 hr (based on CSR output), making it the second-DULLEST such three months (DJF) in a series that began in 1929/30. (see also 1971/72 & 2010/11) [COL/MetO NCIC]
 1966 (February):
One of the WETTEST Februarys across England & Wales (using the EWP series): with a value of 129.6 mm, it lay just outside the 'top-10' of wettest Februarys in that long series. VERY WET more generally across the British & Irish Isles. RAINFALL was more than twice the average over most of the eastern half of England and also over Northern Ireland; In parts of Co.Down, it was more than 350% of the average. Exceptionally WET in the Aldergrove (Belfast/NI) area.
 1966 (August):
Over Yorkshire, the Midlands and central southern England, RAINFALL totals were over 200% of average. By the end of the first week of the month, many places on the south coast had recorded more than their normal rainfall for the whole month. VIOLENT THUNDERSTORMS brought the month to an end on August Bank Holiday (29th). The storms did considerable damage; many main roads were FLOODED, in places to a depth of a foot or more, causing chaos to holiday traffic. [NB: this was only the second August BH where it was taken at the end of the month - rather than traditionally at the start. See my holiday files elsewhere on this site.]
 1966 (21st October): ABERFAN DISASTER
After weeks of persistent and often heavy rain, a spoil tip behind the village school in Aberfan, south Wales collapsed, burying the school under a torrent of slurry with the deaths of 144 people, 116 of the dead were school-children. After the 'East Coast' floods of 1953 (q.v.), this is now regarded as the second-worst natural disaster to affect the UK (in terms of deaths) since the Second World War.
 1967 (January):
New Year's Day in 1967 was one of the COLDEST for 16 years, with many roads blocked by drifts of SNOW.
 1967/1968 (October to June): MAJOR FOOT AND MOUTH OUTBREAK
Over 2300 farms infected - at the time the most serious outbreak in Britain. Despite stringent quarantine, the epidemic spread and it was later found that the wind was a significant vector for the disease.
 1967 (December):
After a dry, fine (anticyclonic) first few days, as a precursor to a notably WINTRY season, an outbreak of Arctic Maritime air flowed across the country during the 6th & 7th. By the 8th, the COLD low-level air was well established. Up until the 11th, TEMPERATURES at one place or another remained below freezing point all day. (writing this in 2008, a most unusual occurrence nowadays.) In this, and another COLD SPELL (17th to 21st), NIGHT FROSTS were exceptionally SEVERE - the night of the 8th/9th was the coldest December night at Thorney Island (SE Hampshire) for 25yr. Minor disturbances (Polar Lows/Troughs) brought significant SNOWFALL for some; dislocation to transport occurred as a result of HEAVY SNOWFALLS in the northwest, and on/near the south coast of England (notably across Dorset & Sussex) on the 8th and 9th. On the 8th, 11 inches of snow (circa 27cm) lay at Brighton, with significant, but localised, transport disruption: this SNOW had fallen in only a few hours.
 1968 (8th/9th January): BIG-BEN STOPS; SNOW PLOUGHS TRAPPED!
SNOWSTORM for much of the British Isles (except some NE areas & far SW). In SW England, HEAVY RAIN / WIDESPREAD FLOODING. Elsewhere, after an initial period of RAIN (or SLEET), persistent precipitation / evaporative cooling allowed the rain to turn to SNOW, and this SNOW caused chaos. Big Ben stopped for 4 hr, many villages were cut-off; roads impassable in many areas. Over a foot (circa 30cm) of SNOW fell in the Welsh border counties and conditions were made worse by STRONG WINDS (generally up to 40 knots in GUSTS) causing DRIFTING (some reports of up to 90 cm). This SNOWSTORM has gone down in the history as the storm that trapped the snow-ploughs! Three council snow-clearance lorries were trapped over the West Berkshire downs on the Wantage to Lambourn road. There was also major disruption to the London airports (then Heathrow & Gatwick), and to Birmingham - (in the early 21st century, this snowstorm would have caused near-panic! (Prichard/Weather/JMet)
 1968 (15th January): CLYDE VALLEY STORM
A great STORM, possibly with TORNADIC activity, affected the Ayrshire coast and the Clyde valley. Vast DAMAGE to roofs of tenements, with around 20 people killed and some 2000 people made homeless. Gusts in excess of 100 mph (~160 km/hr or ~85 kn, not exact conversions).
 1968 (February):
A COLD & SNOWY month. HEAVY SNOWSTORM across the Midlands (of England) on the 5th. Heavy snow fell at Keele, Staffordshire for 12 hours, giving 37cms. Crewe station was blocked. Many roads blocked, particularly in Staffordshire. Widespread disruption to traffic in Birmingham; but only a little way away, in Nottingham, the precipitation fell as rain. It was only just cold enough for SNOW (HEAVY RAIN in Nottinghamshire) so the flakes were large/heavy, with a high water content. Power cables & tree branches (some whole trees) were brought down & the NW Midlands came to a virtual stand-still. (according to RJP/'Weather').
On the 1st in 1968, HAILSTONES up to 7cm in diameter fell in South Wales (Cardiff-Rhoose airport). One of a series of only 10 or so 'WIDESPREAD LARGE HAIL' events recorded by TORRO. Counties affected include: Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Glamorgan, Rhondha, Carmarthen, Shropshire, South and West Yorkshire. Other SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS in the north & west on the 1st, with DAY DARKNESS, LIGHTNING DEATHS. Also on this date, Wales & much of England experienced a significant DUST FALL / COLOURED RAIN event.
> Unusually SEVERE & prolonged STORMS on the 2nd; 35.7mm of RAIN fell in 8.5 minutes at Leeming, north Yorkshire (possibly close to a record for the short duration of the fall). FLOODING in the West Country. Also, 101mm of RAIN in 17 hr at Ronaldsway airport, Isle of Man. (See also below ... all this activity occurred as a cold front moved erratically south across the country ending a notable HOT spell.)
> More STORMS on the 8th & 9th, especially in a belt running from the southwest of Britain across to East Anglia. 175mm at Chew Stoke in Somerset, 125mm at Bristol, leading to FLOODING & DAMAGE. Worthing (Sussex), recorded 59.8mm on the 9th, which until September, 1980, was the highest daily fall in the town. Late on the 9th, a small DEPRESSION formed over NW France during the evening of the 9th, deepening markedly, bringing SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS with GALES in its wake.
> On the 10th, July, 1968, SEVERE FLOODING in Bristol/north Somerset/Cheddar region, after repetitive HEAVY RAINFALL (part of the aftermath of the stormy period 8th & 9th - see above). 175mm of RAIN fell in 24hr at Chaw Stoke (Somerset): holiday routes to the south-west became impassable. Large areas were under deep FLOOD water for several days. The village of Pensford in Somerset was one of the worst hit - as the River Chew burst its banks and the bridge over it collapsed.
> Gloucester measured 5.14inches/circa 129mm RAIN in the 24hr up to 6am on the 11th, and there was a 'notable' GALE associated with THUNDERY weather (?TORNADOES?), particularly affecting the Southend (Essex) area.
> Up to the 17th, renewed heavy rains added to the FLOODING problems.
> 31st: a THUNDERSTORM gave 75mm of RAIN at Ilford (Essex).
 1968 (14th-16th September): MOLESEY FLOODS
Prolonged HEAVY RAIN (enhanced by some long-lived THUNDERSTORMS forming in the vicinity of an occlusion across SE England, which in turn was associated with a slow-moving depression over northern France) on the 14th, 15th and 16th in 1968 caused WIDESPREAD & SEVERE FLOODING in the south east of England with 215mm falling at Northchapel (West Sussex) within 24 hours and 57mm in 42 minutes at Purleigh (Surrey). East Molesey in SW London .. near Hampton Court Palace was particularly badly affected. More generally, much of Essex, Surrey, Kent, and London recorded 150mm (locally 200mm) over these 2 to 3 days. Tilbury, Essex recorded 201 mm in two days - more than one-third of the normal annual fall. From mid-afternoon on the 15th, FLOODING over streams and rivers built up rapidly in Surrey, causing disruption to traffic and damage to property. One person was KILLED (a man died of a heart attack as he was swept away by flood-water). The widespread FLOODING took many days to subside - the impact was primarily due to the rapid/long-lasting nature of the intense RAINFALL (convective cells) - but was perhaps most unusual in that it affected such a large area of SE England. Newspapers of the time in Kent (e.g. 'Kent Messenger') stated that it was "the worst FLOODING since 1814".  The considerable / widespread FLOODING took many days to subside.
 1968 (December):
One of the few 'WHITE CHRISTMASES' of the 20th century; heavy overnight SNOW in the Midlands and Wales had stopped by first light on Christmas morning, leaving a blanket of snow over a foot deep in the Welsh Marches and almost as much in the Cotswolds. SNOW was also reported further south. [ See my Christmas holiday files elsewhere on this site. ]
 1968/69 (Winter):
A notably COLD spell across the Denmark Strait / Iceland region (ICE reached north & east coastal Iceland by late winter - not known in recent/early 21st century years), coincided with the 'Cod War' between Iceland and the UK, when Iceland attempted to protect their fishing grounds from UK trawlers. Several British trawlers capsized due to superstructure ICING - which made the small ships unstable. A trawler support vessel [MV 'Miranda'] was stationed in the area, funded by the UK government, with an on-board meteorologist. [ At the time I was an Assistant in the Central Forecast Office, Bracknell - we had to plot special charts to support the forecasts for the fishing fleet and the Miranda. ]
 1969 (February):
On 7th February, 1969 the highest GUST (up to that time, beaten in 1989) at a low level station in Great Britain was recorded at Kirkwall in the Orkney's, 118 knots.
SEVERE BLIZZARD across the northern Isles, as a polar low slipping southeast across Britain on the 7th gave rise to exceptionally severe, near BLIZZARD conditions across the Midlands and East Anglia, along with parts of southern England.
On the 19th, south Devon was hit by a SEVERE GALE (easterly), causing considerable DAMAGE; at the same time, there was a good deal of DRIFTING SNOW over southern Britain.
During the period 16th to 18th March in 1969 FREEZING RAIN and DRIZZLE caused widespread glazed frost in the Midlands and northern England. Structures and vegetation were damaged and telephone and electric power cables were brought down. On the 19th, a television transmitter mast (about 384m high / then broadcasting the ITV signal) on Emley Moor (Yorkshire), near Huddersfield, collapsed: thought (at the time) to be due to the weight of accumulated ice, but later analysis suggests that an unusual oscillation of the retaining stays (due possibly to the uneven ice build-up) in a relatively moderate wind, caused the failure.
One of three or four COLDEST Marchs in the 20th century.
 1969 (October):
One of the five DRIEST Octobers (17 mm) over England & Wales in the entire EWP series, and the 2nd DRIEST (after 1978) in the 20th century. Also, the equal 3rd WARMEST (equal with 2006, behind 2001 & 2005) October in the entire CET record.
 1950-1959  1960-1969  1970-1974
Back to main historical menu.
 1970 (June):
With a value of 16.4 degC (+2.3C on 61-90 LTA), this was one of the WARMEST June's in the CET record in the 20th century, and in the 'top-dozen' of WARMEST such-named months in the entire record.
90 minute RAINFALL of 111 mm was recorded at Miserden, Gloucestershire on the 10 June 1970.
> A 12 minute RAINFALL of 51mm at Wisbech, in Cambridgeshire on the 27 June 1970 is the HIGHEST RAIN-RATE (over this 12-minute period) in the 20th century.
At Aber (Gwynedd/N.Wales), a MAXIMUM TEMPERATURE of 18.3degC was recorded on the 10th - the (equal) highest known for the UK (and Wales) for January. (see also 1958 & 2003).
A 50 vehicle 'pile-up' on the M1 near Luton in Bedfordshire in thick fog was responsible for the deaths of 7 people and over 40 injured. The term 'motorway madness' was in use from the late 1960s but came into common use in the 1970s as the U.K. motorway network (and associated traffic) grew sharply, and motorists needed to adjust to the different requirements of driving on such roads. Some would say that there has been no improvement in attitude - though improvements in safety such as better lighting etc., have aided.
 1971/72 (Winter):
Notably DULL (in a composite series) across Central-Southern & SE England; the nominal value was 106.8 hr (based on CSR output), making it the DULLEST such three months (DJF) in a series that began in 1929/30. [COL/ex-MetO/NCIC data]
 1972 (12th/13th November):
A rapidly developing (and eventually intense) DEPRESSION passed swiftly across Ireland, Britain and the southern North Sea over the course of these two days. At midday on the 12th, the low was within sea-area Shannon (south-west of Ireland) with a central pressure of 983 mbar; 24 hours later it was approaching the southern Baltic, but on its way, the central pressure had dropped to 959 mbar over north Holland & the Heligoland Bight coastline. There was major DAMAGE caused across wide areas from Wales and southern England to the Low Countries (especially the Netherlands) & across the North German Plain. At least 50 DEATHS were reported along the track of the storm. For England, a large number of trees were lost, with many buildings affected - Lamb notes the main impact as having occurred over the East Midlands & East Anglia & he also speculates that some TORNADO activity may have occurred. [HS/23]
 1973 (2nd April):
SEVERE GALES over England & Wales. A low pressure system moved east, deepening rapidly. It travelled from Ireland (992mbar) at midnight at the start of the 2nd, to be down to 973mbar over the North Sea at midday. WINDS were GALE-FORCE over much of the southern half of Britain and reached Force 9 behind the cold front to the south of the centre; GUSTS to over 60 kt were recorded at Coventry, Bedford (66kt at 10GMT), Wattisham and Shoeburyness. The strongest winds however sprang up to the west of the centre as air from the central North Sea accelerated into the system. Maximum mean 10-minute (& gusts) recorded (a selection): 70kt (90kt) at Whitby CG; 70kt (88kt) at Kilnsea; 34kt (66kt) at West Raynham; 37kt (63kt) at Coltishall; 49kt (73kt) at Hemsby; In general, contemporary reports suggest winds to 'Force 10, possibly Force 11'. Many trees, tiles and television aerials were blown down and caravans destroyed. To the north of the low, HEAVY SNOW brought traffic disruption to northern England. [HS/23]
 1973 (July):
In what was generally a DRY year (see below), a notable fall of RAIN was recorded in the Sheffield (South Yorkshire) area. The monthly total at Sheffield (Weston Park) was 201 mm, making this month one of the WETTEST any-month at this station in a record that started in 1882. This total was helped by a daily total of 119 mm on the 15th, with as much as 137 mm being recorded in the foothills of the Pennines to the NW of the city. The M1 was FLOODED (not an uncommon occurrence actually), many roads in the city centre were blocked and the railway station had water up to platform height rendering it unusable. The rain on this day was part of a larger-scale event that covered the whole of South Yorkshire, the lower Trent valley and north Lincolnshire. ('Weather'/Sep08/RMetS)
 1973 (Annual):
Notably DRY year in the EWP series: 740 mm (or roughly 80% of the long-term average). At Bristol, in a composite record that started in the mid-1930's, it was the DRIEST year with just 578.2mm of RAIN. (This year was part of an extended DROUGHT episode across the English lowlands that is reckoned to run from August 1972 to May 1974. In a composite list (UK Met O/begins 1910) it was probably one of the ten most intense DROUGHTS across the affected area. ['Weather'/RMetSoc, April 2013])
 1974 (January):
The New Year had a WINDY start across the British Isles, and there were two notable STORMS to significantly affect Ireland. The storm of the 11th/12th caused severe FLOODING due to wind-driven high tides in the area of Cork and also across NW coastal Ireland. Many harbours & boats were DAMAGED, with a large number of trees lost. It was during this storm that a GUST of 124 mph / 108 kn / 200 km/hr was recorded at Kilkeel in Co. Down (Northern Ireland), making it the highest sea-level WIND speed recorded in Ireland (to that date). The highest hourly mean WIND speed of 92 knots at Great Dun Fell on the 12th January, 1974 was (at the time) the highest known. During the same STORM, a GUST of 90 knots (about 104mph) was recorded on Salisbury Plain, which even allowing for the exposure is quite exceptional for inland southern England.
A fortnight later (27th/28th), another significant STORM to affect Ireland produced a highest GUST of 96 kn near the coast of Co. Mayo (NW Ireland). [HS/23]
> 8th: 125mm of RAIN fell in the southwest. Flooding in Wales, and four people died.
> 17th: 238.4 mm of RAIN fell in a 24 hr period at Loch Sloy main adit (OED="main approach"), Strathclyde (near Loch Lomond) on the 17th ... the HIGHEST such 24hr period total for January known, and amongst the top 5 or 6 such events for any month of the year (also the highest known for Scotland for any-month).
Rainfall totals for the month exceeded 1000mm at a few sites in western Scotland. (But note:... due to the synoptic pattern, some stations in NE Scotland were notably DRY with 25mm of rain on average for the month. )
 1974 (Autumn):
Notably CYCLONIC/UNSETTLED/WET. November RAINFALL at Kew Observatory was 138mm (219% of average), and coming after October [69mm/121%] and September [124mm/248%], this contributed to Kew having just over twice normal autumn rainfall: I remember the banks of the Thames over flowing at the Brocas, Eton.
Probably the COOLEST autumn for England and Wales since 1952. Of particular note was that the October of 1974, using the CET series, was colder than the December of that year. The respective CET values, and anomalies wrt 1961-1990 series mean were: 7.8degC (-2.8C) October vs. 8.1degC (+3.4C) December. This is the only time this has happened in the CET record (up to 2013), though 1842 & 1852 had similar or the same values.
 1974 (2nd September): THE 'MORNING CLOUD' STORM
A storm surge driven by persistent gale-force winds up the English Channel (circa F9 at times) caused the yacht 'Morning Cloud III' to founder off Brighton, as she was hit by an estimated 26 foot (8 metre) wave. Two of the 7 crew members, including one of Edward Heath's godchildren were lost at sea. The yacht was owned by Edward Heath, from 1970-74 Prime Minister of the UK (and at the time still leader of the Conservative party - until 1975).
 1974/75 (Winter):
It was the 2nd MILDEST winter in England and Wales since 1869, and notably SNOWLESS . Also, one of the 9 WARMEST winters (by CET) in the series which began in 1659. Up to 1997, rank=4 (equal with 2007) Value=6.43; Dec=8.1, Jan=6.8, Feb=4.4 (Others: 1686, 1734, 1796, 1834, 1869 (mildest/6.77), 1935, 1989 and 1990.)

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Researched by and published with permission of Martin Rowley