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 1974/75 (Winter):
At the time, it was the MILDEST winter in England and Wales since 1869, and not surpringly, notably SNOWLESS. One of the 5 WARMEST winters (by CET/MetO) in the series which began in 1659. Up to winter 2012/13, rank=5 (equal with 2007) Value=6.43; Dec=8.1, Jan=6.8, Feb=4.4
(Others, mildest first: 1869 (6.77); 1834 (6.53); 1989 (6.50); 2007 (6.43))
 1975 (June):
SNOW and SLEET occurred as far south as the London area during the first few days of June 1975 (sleet as far south as Portsmouth). (also noted on 12th Jun 1791). The snow melted away almost immediately, except over the higher parts of central and northern England. This is thought to be the first time since July 1888, that snow has been reported so widely so far south in summer. More than 10 cm of FRESH SNOW over the highlands of Scotland. SNOW (circa 2.5cm/1 inch) stopped play (subsequently abandoned) at a CRICKET MATCH [ Derbyshire v. Lancashire ] at Buxton, Derbyshire on the 2nd. (source GPE, Manley)
New LOWEST MINIMA were set at Kew (0.6 degC/4th ... with a grass minimum of (minus) 6 degC at this station) and Tynemouth (2.7 degC/2nd) for June.
A 'spectacular' CHANGE OF TYPE: Early unusually cold/northerly outbreak with snow/frost etc., with midday TEMPERATURE on the 2nd only 2 degC (see above) ..... then on 7th, MAXIMA 22 to 27 degC. Thought to have occurred only 3 times in the previous 100 years. Over the following week, maxima of at least 27 degC were recorded somewhere in Britain each day. On the 9th, 28.9 degC was recorded at Achnashellach, in the northwest Highlands of Scotland.
 1975 (Summer):
For England and Wales, it was one of the ten WARMEST summers of the 20th century, though it was beaten thereafter (comprehensively) by 1976, 1983 & 1995. [CET]
 1975 (14th August): THE HAMPSTEAD STORM
A very localised, but exceptionally intense convective storm affected the Hampstead area of NW London / Middlesex: it produced rainfall of some 170mm in approximately 2.5 hours. It occurred during a notable heat-wave, and is thought to be the highest intensity of rainfall in 100 years. One person was drowned and cars floated along roads. Studies after this storm led to greater understanding of what has come to be known as 'super-cell' (or self-propagating) storms.
 1975 (Annual):
A notably DRY year across England and Wales (using the EWP series).
 1975/76 (Winter):
For England and Wales (using the Met Office EWR/EWP series), it was one of the six DRIEST winters in the previous 100 years, and the third consecutive season with less rain than usual: summer and autumn 1975 were also dry. Winter 1975/76 had around 61% of average rainfall over England and Wales. It was this persistence of low precipitation, particularly throughout the winter 're-charge' season, that led to the severe DROUGHT problems encountered in 1976 (q.v.)
 1975 (May) to 1976 (April):
In the EWR (later EWP) series (since 1727), the 12 month period May 1975 to April 1976 was (at the time) the DRIEST in the series; and then of course we went into the drought of '76!
 1975/1976 (two-year drought):
The famous DROUGHT of 1975/76 was memorable for its severity over most of the British Isles, and also for its exceptional persistence. It produced the highest values for a drought index for south-east England in three hundred years. Not since 1749/50 had a period from one summer to the following spring been so dry in southern Britain. At Oxford, every month from May 1975 to August 1976 had below average rainfall with the sole exception of September 1975. It was the DRIEST 16-month period on record for England and Wales. The severity of the drought was highlighted by the acute hydrological impact of an exceptionally dry winter being sandwiched between two hot, dry summers. The drought was most severe in south-eastern England but was felt widely across England and Wales, and the most stringent water supply restrictions were experienced in South Wales, where water was cut off for up to 17 hours a day to domestic consumers. North-west England and much of western Scotland escaped the attentions of this notable drought and were more frequently subject to the passage of fronts associated with cyclonic systems displaced northwards by the high pressure over southern England.
 1976 (January):
The GALE late on the 2nd (into the 3rd) of January in 1976 was one of the most severe to affect the British Isles in the twentieth century. Wittering (Cambridgeshire) in the east of England recorded a GUST of 91 knots at 2218 GMT on the 2nd and many stations across the NE of England, East Anglia and the Midlands experienced GUSTS in excess of 70 knots, with mean winds (hourly) 45 knots or more. Strong gale or storm force (Beaufort reckoning) was often reached with HURRICANE force 12 reported from some places in South Wales, southwest and northern England. Widespread damage and deaths (23 deaths noted at the time). A caravan site near Doncaster was destroyed. Some FLOODING on the North Sea coast: 4 feet (circa 1.2 m) of flood water in Mablethorpe and Sutton-on-Sea (Lincolnshire). DAMAGE was noted in almost every county of England, Wales & Northern Ireland. There were prolonged power cuts in widely separated areas. Railway services were badly affected in the Midlands because of the collapse of overhead power supplies. At Southend airport, a light aircraft was bodily lifted from the tarmac and thrown onto an adjacent railway line, where it burst into flames and blocked the railway services into London. [HS/23]
 1976 (Spring):
Less than 50% of normal RAINFALL in the south-east of England during spring: contributing to the ensuing problems during the SUMMER DROUGHT.
 1976 (June/July):
No previous HEAT WAVE in Britain, and rarely since (as at 2013), has come close to the duration of the late June/early July 1976 HOT SPELL. From the 22nd June to 16th July, the temperature reached 80 degF daily. Even more remarkable, from 23rd June to 7th July, a period of 15 consecutive days, the temperature exceeded 32 degC somewhere or other in the country.
 1975 May to 1976 April:
For England and Wales, the 12 month period May 1975 to April 1976 was the DRIEST 12 month period since the series began (?EWR) in 1727.
 1976 (Summer):
> It was easily the DRIEST, SUNNIEST and WARMEST summer (June/July/August) in the 20th century (at this date, but see 1995 - which is now regarded as the driest). Only a few places registered more than half their average summer rainfall. In the CET record, it was the WARMEST summer in that series.
> It was the WARMEST summer in the Aberdeen area since at least 1864.
> It was the DRIEST summer since 1868 in Glasgow.
> Probably the HOTTEST summer for over three centuries. CET values were (with anomalies rel. to 1961-90 averages): Jun:17.0(+2.8), Jul:18.7(+2.6), Aug: 17.6(+1.8). In particular, for the period mid-June to mid-July, 1976, this was one of two WARMEST (the other being in 1826), 30-day periods in the CET series, with a value of 19.7degC.
 1976 (September + October):
For England and Wales as a whole (EWR), it was the WETTEST such spell in the entire record (at the time) ... back to 1727. The combined EWP value for September & October=305mm. (Since 1727, the rainfall of September 1976 is 10th wettest in the series.) [ The wettest September + October totals since 1727 were during 1903 (310mm), 1841 (295mm) and 1960 (290mm), therefore the total for 1976 (September+ October) at 305mm is close to a record. ]
 1976 (Autumn):
A notably VERY WET autumn for all areas ( except for north and west Scotland). In some parts of northern England, and the extreme south, 200% of average rainfall was recorded. [ Coming after the notably dry spring/summer of course. ]
 1977 (February):
One of the WETTEST Februarys across England & Wales (using the EWP series).
 1977 (Summer):
Just one year on from the finest summer to grace these islands in a very long time (and not equalled since [as of 2013]), the British & Irish weather reverted to what is perhaps unfairly regarded as 'type'. The 'culprit' in the mix was June, which was a month characterised by marked lack of SUNSHINE, mean TEMPERATURES some 2C below the all-series average, and plenty of RAINFALL - with extended THUNDERY OUTBREAKS contributing to the misery for many. July was actually DRY (EWP circa 40% of LTA) with average TEMPERATURES, but August, though not markedly chilly, did have significantly above-average RAINFALL, which again was helped along by some dramatic THUNDERY OUTBREAKS. [EWP, CET]
> Strong N'ly STORM lasting several hours overnight 11th/12th. In addition to high WINDS, a STORM SURGE severely affected the coastline from the Wash to North Kent. Dykes breached, coastal lowlands FLOODED. Several piers were either badly damaged or destroyed - Margate was in the latter category: it had stood for 150 years. The highest GUSTS noted included 74 kn at Gorleston (nr. Yarmouth / Norfolk) and 70 kn at Kew (London). [HS/23]
> Possibly the worst blizzard in the north of Scotland for 30 years occurred over the two days 28th/29th January, 1978. Helicopters had to be used to rescue passengers from a trapped and derailed Inverness to Wick evening train. Many motorists were trapped in their cars and weekend climbers were stranded in the northern mountains. Snow also affected other parts of northern Britain, in what was turning out to be a notably severe spell of weather - see below.
Ranking alongside the worst snowstorms of the century, particularly that of December 1927, this SEVERE BLIZZARD affected southwestern England, parts of the SW Midlands and much of south and mid-Wales (lighter snowfall, or none at all in immediately adjacent regions) and caused many people to be marooned on this Saturday night in places of entertainment. Snow drifted well above 10 feet, and 7 lives are reported to have been lost. Winds reached STORM-FORCE at times, and SNOWFALL was heavy and prolonged. On the 20th February, as warm air encroached from the southwest, with further sleet, snow and FREEZING RAIN in places, a THAW of the lying snow led to local FLOODING.
 1978 (9th May): LARGE DIURNAL RANGE
Large diurnal range: 29 C (52.2 F), from -7 C (19.4 F) to 22 C (71.6 F) at Tummel Bridge (Tayside) on 9 May 1978. (See also 1936/August & 1995/December.)
 1978 (Spring/Summer):
A notably COOL/WET late spring/early mid summer. Also a lack of sunshine.
 1978 (Autumn):
> For England and Wales as a whole, the DRIEST autumn for at least 150 years - as of 2012, the DRIEST autumn in the EWP series.
> In September, the remnants of Hurricane "Flossie" merged with another depression in the Atlantic on the 16th to produce an intense depression with low pressure of 959 mbar to the north west of Scotland (down to 954 mbar in the southern Norwegian Sea by 1800 GMT). Very STRONG WINDS were a feature of the low, with 'steady' winds up to 70 knots affecting ships and exposed islands to the north of Scotland. The MAXIMUM GUSTS from anemograph stations included 87 knots at Kirkwall (Orkney) and 84 knots at Lerwick (Shetland). However, the strongest GUST was 104 mph/90 kt recorded at Fair Isle (between Orkney and Shetland).(GBWFF)
 1978 (December):
A notably WET month in many areas: more than twice the average rainfall in Northern Ireland and the western half of Scotland and England. There was more than three times the average rainfall in northeast England, and some four times normal in the South Yorkshire area. Several places in eastern England and eastern Scotland had their WETTEST December since their records began: in the case of Tynemouth (161 mm/310%) extending back to 1864. FLOODING occurred in parts of northern England and Northern Ireland. By the EWP series, with 173 mm (~170% or more), it was amongst the 'top-10' WETTEST Decembers in that series. [EWP &c]
 1978/79 (Winter):
> COLDEST WINTER since 1962/63. In the Shetlands coldest since at least 1901.
> WETTEST winter at Southampton since 1936/37.
> Although the winter started mild & wet (see above), SEVERE COLD set in around the end of December 1978, and with FREQUENT SNOWFALLS, the extended winter (i.e. to at least March) was assessed as the 'SNOWIEST' since that of 1962/63 for much of England, Wales and Northern Ireland: for Scotland since 1969/70. From an article by Stephen Burt in 'Weather': ... "1978/79 would seem to bear comparison with other severe winters of the last 100 years" (written in October, 1980).
 1979 (Spring):
> Spring 1979 was one of the COLDEST of the twentieth century over England and Wales; however, there were about half-a-dozen colder and in the full CET series, this spring only ranks in the range 85 to 95 (depending when you're looking at this!)
> WETTEST spring of the 20th century: March 1979 was amongst the top-five WETTEST so-named months across England & Wales (using the EWP series).
 1979 (13th/14th August): THE FASTNET STORM
This poorly forecast storm approached southwestern waters just as over 300 yachts were about to approach and round the Fastnet Rock (off SW Ireland) on a race out of Cowes on the Isle of Wight. A notably deep depression for August, with a central pressure below 980mbar, widespread mean speeds 50-55kn and wind gusts at least 64 kn. This strength of wind, plus the severely confused seas (and possibly tornadic cells) led to loss of life (15 dead) with only 85 yachts finishing. [HS/23]
 1979 (13th/14th August): THE FASTNET STORM
 1979 / 1980 (Winter):
In a record starting 1900, one of only five winters (December, January, February) with 5 or more 'SEVERE GALE/STORM' episodes in a winter season: this one had 5; the highest in the series was winter 2013/14 (q.v.) [from 'Weather', May 2014, ex: Jenkinson Gale Index / CRU / University of East Anglia]
 1975-1979  1980-1989  1990-1999
Back to main historical menu.
An accommodation platform, the 'Alexander Kielland' was overturned in the North Sea during a high wind, high seas event; however, it is not thought that the weather alone was responsible for the collapse (with the loss of 123 lives), as the structure was designed to withstand the F9/F10 winds and 6 metre waves. At the time, it was the greatest disaster to an oil/gas platform recorded. [HS/23]
 1980 (Spring):
Spring: SUNNIEST in the Glasgow area in 100 years.
 1980 (Spring):
The period of 8 weeks from the 2nd April 1980 was regarded as the DRIEST such spell at the time, the only other previous dry spell being August to October, 1959. This in the EWR series.
 1980 (June - September):
Total RAINFALL for Scotland as a whole was the highest for these months since 1950.
 1980 (November):
SNOW lay in Jersey from the 5th to 7th with 8cm at St. Helier, an event thought to be without parallel for the time of year in the Channel Islands.
 1980 (December) to 1981 (February):
Winter: MILD, overall, almost everywhere and it was the DRIEST winter since 1963/64 in southern Britain.
 1981 (March):
A notably WET March over England & Wales: in the 'top-5', perhaps the second wettest using the EWP series.
 1981 (April):
SNOWFALL was heavy in many central and western areas between the 24th and 26th.
 1981 (May and June):
DULLEST May + June together in London since before 1929.
 1981 (Autumn):
> WET almost everywhere, with almost twice average rainfall in some north-western areas. Also RATHER COLD, due to a cold October.
> On 20th October, UK second largest outbreak of TORNADOES (as at 2005); up to 29 (definite & probable).
> On 23rd November, UK largest outbreak of TORNADOES (as at 2005); 105 in just over 5 hours; many were short-lived and fairly weak and no deaths were recorded. (definite & probable).
 1981 (December):
December 1981 was the COLDEST (and probably the SNOWIEST) since the mid 1870s in the north and since 1890 in parts of the south. The coldest by the CET record (=0.3degC) in the 20th century & one of the COLDEST 10 such-named months in the entire record. SNOW lay for three weeks in many areas; At Braemar, Scotland, it was the coldest month on record, with a mean temperature of (minus) 3.4 degC, and 11 days with screen temperatures failing to rise above (minus) 10 degC. At many places from the Midlands northwards, the mean monthly temperature was below freezing point. HEAVY SNOWFALLS from the 7-8th (traffic dislocation in London on the 8th), and again on the 11th, HEAVY SNOWFALL in central and southern Britain (Heathrow=30cm; Gloucester=15cm or more) with BLIZZARDS for a time. On the 13th, further HEAVY SNOWFALL for northern Britain (temporary mild spell in south). By the 21st, SNOW DEPTHS reached 20 cm in parts of central and northern England and southern Scotland. (A 'fine' White Christmas' but no snow on Christmas Day itself!).
> At Shawbury (Shropshire) the night MINIMUM TEMPERATURE fell to -25.2degC early on the 13th December. This a record low value for December for England.
An exceptional year for TORNADO outbreaks: total for the year 150 (84 definite & 66 probable, mostly in two outbreaks in October & November), according to TORRO.
> With a morning minimum temperature of -26.1degC, this reading from Newport, Shropshire, represents the lowest night minimum temperature for England known. On the same night, Braemar, Aberdeenshire in Scotland equalled the lowest all-UK temperature of -27.2degC, previously set in 1895.
> Periods of SNOW for many parts of the UK. Heavy falls of snow, with SERIOUS DRIFTING occurred over a wide area of southern and central Britain 7th/8th. Major dislocation of road and rail traffic, with snow falling continuously for 36 to 48 hours in places. (The area of deep SNOWFALL was key to the achievement of the very low temperatures noted above.)
  1982 (March):
El Chichón (southern Mexico): Three major explosions in one week at the end of March, 1982 threw ash and gas to heights of 20 to 25km, well into the stratosphere. Besides fine ash particles, El Chichón injected an enormous amount of sulphur dioxide into the high atmosphere. The resultant acid aerosol and fine ash were carried westward by high-speed stratospheric winds, encircling the globe within a month. The injection of the gases into the stratosphere led to a warming at those levels, and a cooling within the troposphere, each effect lasting for a couple of years. [VOLC & 'Weather', August 2008/RMetS]
 1982 (Summer):
> Parts of Scotland had a VERY DRY summer.
> It was also broadly DRY across the England & Wales precipitation (EWP/Hadley) domain during April, May & July 1982. However, June 1982 was notably WET, with the total 129 mm placing it just inside the 'top-10' of wettest Junes in that set (began 1766). The high rainfall was a result of frequent and often intense THUNDERY activity, with some VERY HEAVY falls of RAIN. For Yorkshire, the PRECIPITATION anomaly was well over 300% of long-period average. In central and eastern England, June 1982 was probably one of the most THUNDERY MONTHS of the 20th century. Thunder was heard on 10 to 15 days in the month in many places, and there were many reports of prolonged & destructive STORMS. Heathrow had 6 days with thunder heard, and Bedford 11 days. [EWP &c]
 1982 (Autumn & early winter):
Based on an analysis of data in the Lewes & Brighton area of Sussex, for the area covering the eastern area of the Sussex Downs, an EXCEPTIONAL RAINFALL was recorded between 20th September and 31st December. Analysis of the data suggested that the event would only occur once in 25 years. There was a particularly high incidence of high intensity/short duration rainfall. Using data for Southover (just outside Lewes/East Sussex), for the months September to December inclusive, then 571.1mm of RAIN were recorded (compared to a long-period average of 366.9mm), and at the time, was only exceeded on three occasions since 1931.
 1983 (April & May):
Third WETTEST such-named pair of months in the EWP series (up to 2000 q.v., also see 1782) [ Followed by a fine, warm summer - but with thundery exceptions, see below.]
A month notable for SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS & associated phenomena: within the space of the first week of the month, three outbreaks of SEVERE THUNDERY activity affected large areas of central & southern England, mid, east & north Wales. HAILSTONES caused considerable damage, especially in Dorset on the 5th, Greater Manchester on the 7th and Merseyside & north Wales early hours of the 8th. On the 7th alone, LARGE HAIL over Powys, Wrexham, Cheshire (in west of county - diameter: up to 7.5 cm / presumably measured as 3"), Merseyside, Manchester, Lancashire and North Yorkshire, and lesser diameters in addition from Shropshire. During the events of the 5th, SQUALLS associated with these storms capsized a large number of yachts in the Solent. Later in the month, on the 18th, a SEVERE THUNDERSTORM produced HAIL to several centimetres depth on the ground in the Bristol area; then again, on the 22nd, there were more SEVERE STORMS - most severe in Dorset and Devon: more storms on the 23rd which were slow moving with light winds, and near Alresford, in Hampshire, 103 mm of RAIN fell in 24 hr. And finally, there was a small TORNADO near Brighton, Sussex on the afternoon of the 5th June, leading to the observation of a crab falling, just ahead of some marble-size HAIL! The crab is reported as being 25cm across, the shell being about 7cm in diameter. The clouds were reported to be an 'eery green' colour. [MetO/MWS & 'Weather'/RMetS May 2011]
The value for the CET for July, 1983 was 19.5degC, and not only was it the warmest month of the 20th century, but at the time it was the warmest in the entire CET series: it was, however, beaten by July, 2006 (q.v.)
 1983 (Annual):
According to TORRO, with 32 days of WIDESPREAD THUNDER activity, this was the year with the highest such category in their series (at the time, the series began in 1946; see also 1984!).
 1984 (January):
Notably WET over England & Wales - well into the 'top-10' of such-named months using the EWP series (160%).
 1984 (Spring):
Glasgow had its DRIEST spring since records began there in 1869. (see also below)
 1984 (Spring/Summer):
Glasgow had its DRIEST combined spring & summer season since before 1869, with only 151 mm of rain, compared to normal of 414 mm. This was part of the relatively intense spring and summer DROUGHT across Britain, bracketed by wet winters. The primary area affected (during the period February to August) extended from Devon and Dorset, through much of Wales, north-west England and southern Scotland, to the Great Glen; less than 40% occurred in some areas. For England and Wales as a whole, the period from February to August was the second DRIEST of the century (after 1976) with 329mm/70%. In contrast to 1976 though, the southeast of England and East Anglia were close to average.
 1984 (Autumn):
WET almost everywhere.
 1984 (Annual):
Notable year for TORNADOES in the UK (by TORRO). This followed an apparently 'exceptional' year in 1983.
 1985 (Summer):
For Glasgow (probably representative of the central Lowlands of Scotland), it was the WETTEST summer of the 20th century, and the COLDEST for more than 50 years (up to that date.)
 1985 (Autumn):
One of the seven or eight DRIEST autumns in the EWR series for England and Wales since 1727.
 1985 (November):
COLD & WINTRY. COLDEST November since 1925 by the CET series & London had its COLDEST November since 1952. There was SEVERE FROST in the southeast on the morning of the 14th: (minus) 8 degC. By the 18th, a very COLD EASTERLY had become established in southern Britain: DAY MAXIMA near FREEZING, and these conditions also affected the Channel Islands: unusual for November. The 27th was a VERY COLD day, with TEMPERATURES below freezing all day in Lincolnshire with snow. Towards the end of the month, some notably SHARP FROSTS, e.g. (minus)12 degC at Shawbury during the night 28th/29th; and (minus)18.5 degC at Aviemore (over snow cover) on the 29th, and (minus)20.9 degC at Kinbrace, Sutherland on the 30th - this latter value places it amongst the COLDEST FIVE VALUES KNOWN for the month of November. During the day (of the 29th) the TEMPERATURE failed to rise above (minus) 8 degC at Glenlivet. In contrast, the month ended with VERY MILD air spreading north during the evening of the 30th, where the MAXIMUM TEMPERATURE was up to 14 degC in the southwest.
 1986 (late January to early March):
A notable WINTRY SPELL, with records broken.
 1986 (20th March): HIGHEST GUST .. ANY STATION IN U.K.
The Cairn Gorm automatic station, at an altitude of 1074m, recorded a gust of 150 knots (173 mph), beating its own previous record for the U.K. set in 1967.
 1986 (26th April): CHERNOBYL
The Chernobyl nuclear power station in the (former) Soviet Union, near Kiev in the Ukraine suffered a massive explosion during the early hours of the 26th. Radioactive particles / gas carried westward and northwestward to affect large areas of Europe in the ensuing week. UK mainly affected in upland areas, due heavy rain washing out the irradiated particulate matter.
This summer BH (in England, Wales and NI) was the WETTEST on record over England and Wales this century with falls of 25mm or more nearly everywhere, as the re-invigorated former Hurricane "Charley" swept across the country. The inaugural Birmingham city centre motor race ('SuperPrix') had to be abandoned with many laps to go. In Ireland, particularly the Republic, this was a major DISASTER. There were exceptionally large amounts of rainfall in the south and east of the island.
 1987 (January): SEVERE COLD SPELL .... 10th to 18th.
> The 12th of January 1987 saw record LOW MAXIMUM TEMPERATURES over much of England and Wales. At Okehampton (Devon) and Holme Moss (West Yorkshire) TEMPERATURES did not exceed (minus) 8.5 degC. Many places experienced RECORD LOW TEMPERATURES by day and night and it seems likely that it was one of the coldest spells of weather in the south since January 1740. On the morning of the 12th, (minus) 7.0 degC was recorded at St. Mary's, Isles of Scilly: probably the lowest minimum recorded in the islands (accompanied by a 40-50 knot easterly wind).
> On the 13th of January in 1987, there was 52cm of level SNOW at East Malling, Kent, probably the greatest depth of level snow in the area for at least 40 years (DRIFTS 40 feet deep noted in Kent). In January 1987, the Isles of Scilly and west Cornwall experienced its most SEVERE WEATHER in the 20th century, with SNOW 39cm deep at Penzance and 30cm at Falmouth on the 12th. There was much disruption to transport/local communities.
 1987 (evening 15th/morning 16th October): THE GREAT OCTOBER STORM (AN 'ENGLISH' HURRICANE!)
After a wet period, and when trees were still in full leaf, an explosively deepening storm (probably encompassing some extra-tropical storm elements) moving northeastwards from the Bay of Biscay towards the central North Sea, produced winds of well over 100 mph across the SE part of England after midnight 16th - not out of ordinary for northern Britain, but unprecedented in the modern record for this populated area of the U.K. 18 people died, with considerable damage to property, vehicles etc., and the loss of 15 million mature trees. However, note carefully the restricted affected area: roughly southeast of a line Lyme Bay to Lincolnshire, with the maximum DISRUPTION/DAMAGE across London, Home Counties, East Anglia & Kent. (October 1987 was the second WETTEST across England & Wales at the time, using the EWP series: only beaten into third place by October 2000. Much speculation that the leafy trees with roots in sodden ground added to the problems.)
 1988 (January):
January 1988 was the WETTEST in England and Wales (EWR) for over 40 years, in the top-5 of wet Januarys in that series and the wettest at Hampstead (Greater London) since records began there in 1909.
 1988 (February):
9th/10th February: a major cyclonic STORM affected much of the British Isles, on its way towards southern Norway. Much DAMAGE to buildings and destruction to standing timber, with at least a dozen people KILLED for a variety of reasons across Ireland & Britain. Strongest GUSTS in more exposed western locations were around 90 kn. [HS/23]
 1988 (Summer):
A WET summer almost everywhere: the exception being the far SE of England, where Kent had some 50% or less of normal rainfall.
 1988-1989 (late summer 1988 to autumn 1989):
After the wet weather (above), another of those dramatic 'switches' in type brought an extended period of low RAINFALL to at least the English lowlands. In a listing produced by the Met Office (starts 1910), the period August 1988 to November 1989 ranks within the top dozen DROUGHTS of significance. ['Weather'/RMetSoc, April 2013]
 1988 (November):
6 inches of SNOW in parts of Kent on the 20th. SUBSTANTIAL SNOW across a broad belt from central Scotland to Kent, generally to a depth of 2 inches or so, although a foot of snow lay for a time over the hilly interior of the Isle of Man. Further snow fell over the next 2 days in Kent, bringing the depth over the Downs south of Canterbury to 6 inches, and Dover was cut off from the rest of the county for a time.
 1988/89 (Winter):
> Was EXCEPTIONALLY MILD, VERY DRY and quite sunny, but north west Britain was wet. In central England (CET), it was the THIRD WARMEST winter since that record began in 1659.
> One of the 9 WARMEST winters (by CET) in the series which began in 1659. Up to 1997, rank=3 Value=6.50; Dec=7.5, Jan=6.1, Feb=5.9 (Others: 1686, 1734, 1796, 1834, 1869, 1935, 1975 and 1990.)
 1988/1992 (Four years):
> An exceptionally PERSISTENT DROUGHT (England & Wales). Regarded as lasting from November 1988 to August 1992, a period of 46 months, perhaps one of the longest such DRY periods in the instrumental era. Punctuated by short-lived but often abrupt phases of wet weather. The winter of 1991/92 provided only one-third of the normal recharge volumes.
> In contrast, for Scotland, these years were notably WET.
The Kinnaird Lighthouse recorded a gust of 123 knots (141 mph) at 2030UTC on this date, beating the previous record of 118 knots at Kirkwall, Orkney on 7th February 1969. (N.B. some sources have this as the 'Fraserburgh lighthouse' and the value of the GUST as 126 knots; I'll get around to sorting it out sometime.)
 1989 (May):
> Central London probably had its driest May since systematic RAINFALL recording began in the London area about 300 years ago (some doubt though about the series used for this statement); Over England and Wales as a whole (EWR) it was the DRIEST May since 1896 (EWR=20.7mm) and was the second driest May in the 20th century (driest=1991). Many places in the south and east had less than 10mm of rain. Worthing (Sussex) had its driest May since records started there in 1902, with some locations having less than 1mm of rain! At Rothamsted (Hertfordshire) the total of 4.2mm was easily the DRIEST May on record in its 148yr record (at that time), beating the 11.5mm set in 1896. On Jersey (Maison St. Louis), the monthly total of 3.6mm represented less than 7% of the average, and was only beaten by the 1895 value.
> By contrast, on the 19th May, 1989, the 'HALIFAX STORM' resulted in a record 2-HOUR POINT RAINFALL of 193 mm at Walshaw Dean Lodge in Calderdale.
> Most places south of a line from south Devon to north Norfolk measured in excess of 300 hours of SUNSHINE during the month, and averaged over England and Wales it was the SUNNIEST May since records began over 100 years ago. SUNSHINE totals exceeded 340 hours in parts of southern England.
> In the London area, the MEAN (monthly) MAXIMUM TEMPERATURE was the highest in May since May, 1848. On Jersey, the mean monthly MAXIMUM TEMPERATURE (20.0degC) was easily the highest in a record that started in 1894. The TEMPERATURE reached or exceeded 20degC somewhere in Britain on every day except 10th to 14th, and 30th and 31st. 25degC was exceeded on 8 days including six consecutive days 20th to the 25th.
 1989 (Annual):
> SUNNIEST year in central London in a record which began in 1929. 1915hr recorded (against 1762hr in 1976.)
> Over a large part of the United Kingdom, one of the WARMEST & SUNNIEST in the modern (reliable) record. [ see also 1959, 1995 & 2003 ] (GPE/R Met Soc).
> For western Scotland, an EXCEPTIONALLY WET year. (see also 1990)
 1989/90 (Winter):
> TEMPERATURE anomalies exceeded +2.5 degC in much of southern and eastern England, where it was locally warmer than the winter 1988/89.
> One of the 10 WARMEST winters (by CET) in the series which began in 1659. Value = 6.23; Dec = 4.9, Jan = 6.5, Feb = 7.3 (Others: 1686, 1734, 1796, 1834, 1869, 1935, 1975, 1989 & 1998.) (NB: this very WARM winter followed the previous very warm winter: unprecedented in the CET series.) [ For Europe as a whole, according to the University of Berne, this winter was the WARMEST in a series beginning 1500 - combining proxy and instrumental records. (RMetS)]
> For the EWP series, one of the two or three WETTEST winters on record, but followed by spring 1990 which was the driest since 1893.
> In a record starting 1900, one of only five winters (December, January, February) with 5 or more 'SEVERE GALE/STORM' episodes in a winter season: this one had 5; the highest in the series was winter 2013/14 (q.v.) [from 'Weather', May 2014, ex: Jenkinson Gale Index / CRU / University of East Anglia]
 1975-1979  1980-1989  1990-1999
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 1990 (25th January): THE 'BURNS DAY STORM'
Widespread severe gales over England and Wales with gusts well over 90 mph in exposed southern and western coastal districts, and isolated gusts over 105 mph. Even inland across southern and central Britain, winds reached 80 mph in gusts. Over 40 people dead, with considerable structural damage (estimated over £2 billion), with further trees down (after Oct.87) and the area affected was much greater than the aforesaid 'October Storm'.
[ It's called the 'Burns Day Storm' because one of the Senior Forecasters at CFO Bracknell at the time wrote it up and so-named it: he was a Scot - the 25th January is Burns Day . . . but the major portion of damage occurred outside Scotland! ]
 1990 (mid-late Winter):
> CET values (and anomalies rel. to 1961-90 average) Jan:6.5(+2.7), Feb:7.3(+3.5), Mar: 8.3(+2.6). REMARKABLY WARM early months of the year leading to a NOTABLY WARM YEAR overall, (and eventually DRY overall for many lowland areas - but the winter 1989/90 was WET - see above).
2. January & February together: by the CET series were the WARMEST such pair in the entire record to that date.
3. February 1990 was notably WET across England & Wales: in the 'top-5' of wet Februarys in the EWP series.
 1990-92 (three-year period):
One of two notable DROUGHT periods in the England & Wales composite area at the end of the 20th century (see also 1995-97). For the 28 month period March 1990 to June 1992, the EWP total=1715 mm, which represented around 80% of the long-term average. Part of a longer, wider-scale event that affected many parts of the UK. This was a major DROUGHT. Widespread and protracted rainfall deficiencies - reflected in exceptionally low groundwater levels (in summer 1992, overall groundwater resources for England and Wales probably at their lowest for at least 90 years). Intense phase in the summer of 1990 in southern and eastern England. Exceptionally low winter flows in 1991/1992. [For the 'English lowlands', in a series produced by the UK MetO, the period March 1990 to February 1992 is ranked as the third most intense DROUGHT in a dataset from 1910.]
 1990 (Spring):
Over England and Wales, the WARMEST since 1945, the DRIEST since 1893, and the SUNNIEST on record (at that time).
 1990 (March to September):
Probably the DRIEST such period (at the time) for the EWR rainfall series since it was drawn up in 1727.
 1990 (March to November):
RAINFALL in the EWR series over these 9 months was less than any March/November period since records began in 1727, with the exception of 1921.
 1990 (3rd August): HOTTEST DAY OF THE 20th CENTURY
37.1 degC was recorded at Cheltenham (Gloucestershire) on this date, beating the previous highest (accepted) of 36.7 degC set in 1911 (Raunds & Canterbury, 9th August). (see also 2003/August)
 1990 (December):
> A low formed dramatically over central England on the 7th, large quantities of RAIN, turning in many places to SNOW, fell on its western and northern flanks. On the 7th and 8th very HEAVY SNOW fell over northern England, Wales, the Midlands and south west England, with heavy drifting in GALE FORCE WINDS, causing considerable disruption to traffic and cutting power lines. The snow did not freeze, however, but melted very rapidly during the next few days, as the temperature rose a little. By late on the 8th, many parts of the Midlands had 20 cm or more of LYING SNOW, Acocks Green, Birmingham reported 42.5 cm on the 8th. The Peak District had 38 cm at Middleton and 25 cm at Winksworth, while in Newcastle under Lyme 28 cm was recorded, and many other places had more than 20 cm. DRIFTS up to 60 cm on motorways in the Derby area, and at Carlton in Coverdale, near Leyburn, a report of 240 cm. SNOWFALL on the 9th in the Dorchester (Dorset) area in 1990 was the heaviest pre-Christmas fall in that area since 9 December 1967.
> A notable outbreak of TORNADOES on Christmas Day, when a number of tornadoes were reported between Devon and Lincolnshire. On the Severn Bridge (the only one extant at that time), a GUST of 92 kt was recorded on the 25th. On the 29th in 1990 a WHIRLWIND caused extensive damage to houses in South Wales.
> For the UK, using the CET, this was (at the time) the WARMEST year in that record [ just beating 1949 ], but was beaten by 1999, 2006 & 2011. The value=10.63 degC, with only 1999 subsequently equalling this value and 2006 & 2011 exceeding it [ but remember to check later years ]: the HOTTEST / SUNNIEST (in combination) since reliable records started --- but see also 1995 for SUNSHINE ... which was by far better for this parameter than 1990.
> To point up the fact that not everywhere shares the 'EWP' dataset, for some parts of western Scotland, it was the second successive EXCEPTIONALLY WET year.
> Several south coast resorts recorded 2200hr of BRIGHT SUNSHINE (or higher); this figure has never been approached on the British mainland. In particular, Bognor Regis (Sussex) recorded 2241 hr, apparently a record for England and the UK (but not for the British Isles: see 1959/GPE).
 1991 (February):
> In February 1991 the TEMPERATURE over a wide area did not rise above freezing between the 5th and 10th; the lowest temperature reached during the month was (minus) 16.0 degC at Cawood (N. Yorkshire) on the 14th. Temperatures failed to exceed freezing point in a few parts of central northern England on the 3rd, and, as cold air intensified, there was always some part of England and Wales where day maximum temperatures remained below freezing point every day from the 3rd to the 14th inclusive. Over much of the south-east of England, temperatures only achieved a maximum between (minus) 5 and (minus) 6 degC on the 7th, believed to be the COLDEST FEBRUARY DAY of the century in some places (e.g. at Whipsnade, Bedfordshire, and Brighton, Sussex, the MAXIMUM on the 7th was (minus) 5.2degC.) On the 8th, the MAXIMUM at Princeton, on Dartmoor was just (minus) 6C. The MINIMUM TEMPERATURE at Guernsey airport (CI) on the 7th was (minus) 7.2 degC, the equal low for February at this location.
> Minima below (minus) 10 degC were reported each morning from at least one place in widely differing parts of the UK from the 7th to 14th inclusive.
> SNOW fell extensively and often heavily between the 7th and 9th, leaving a covering exceeding 10 cm over large areas of England, Wales and eastern and southern Scotland, with 51 cm of level snow observed at Bingley, near Bradford, Yorkshire at 09z on the 9th. (Possibly the greatest snow-depth for central London since the start of the 'Big Freeze' snowfall in December, 1962.) There were many injuries from falls on ice and sledging accidents, and a woman in Dartford received severe head injuries from falling icicles. In central London, some places had somewhere around 15cm of SNOW - thought to have been the greatest depth since the infamous snowfalls of December, 1962. (This was the infamous "wrong type of snow" for British Rail; dry & powdery and driven by winds with low dew-points into delicate parts of the running machinery and points etc.)
 1991 (May):
May 1991 was the DRIEST May over England and Wales (EWP) since 1896, and the third driest May in that series (as at 2013): the value was 13.7 mm representing roughly 22% of the all-series mean across this domain. Further north, Glasgow probably had its DRIEST May since 1868. Less than 10% of average rainfall fell across the southwest peninsula - only 1 mm of RAIN in southwest Cornwall. What was of especial interest was that this was the third notably DRY May in a row. (EWP)
 1991 (June):
On June 15th, the Mount Pinatubo (Philippines) volcanic eruption lasted for around 9 hours, and in addition to the death and destruction in the immediate area of the volcano, the eruption pushed huge quantities of Sulphur Dioxide into the stratosphere, resulting in significant atmospheric temperature changes. It is estimated that the stratospheric aerosol encircled the globe within 22 days, due to the strong winds found at these levels. Direct solar radiation receipt at the earth's surface was significantly reduced, leading to an estimated drop in global mean tropospheric temperature by ~0.5C around a year after the eruption: due to higher absorption of radiation in the high atmosphere, global stratospheric temperatures increased by ~2C during the following 12-24 months. However, it should be noted that the regional scale response in the troposphere to such events is complex: for example, TEMPERATURE anomalies for the winter 1991/1992 following this event show a WARMING of 3degC in north-west Europe [but this isn't reflected in the CET anomaly]. (see'Weather' August, 2008/RMetS)
 1991 (Annual):
One of the WARMEST years in the GLOBAL record.
 1991/92 (Winter):
The winter was the DRIEST for 28 years over England and Wales as a whole (EWR), but locally in southern England, where seasonal totals were around 30% of normal, there has probably been none drier since 1744.
 1992 (May):
This was the WARMEST May of the 20th century over much of Britain, & into the 'top-10' warmest Mays in the entire CET record (but many of the others were from the 18th and 19th century, so some doubt). On the 14th, Edinburgh (Turnhouse) airport recorded a MAXIMUM TEMPERATURE of 28.9 degC, close to a May 'record' at the time, but beaten (roundly) since by May 2012. Other notable maxima recorded were: 29.5/Worcester/20th; 23.4/Tiree/28th; 24.3/Benbecula/30th; 23.0/Stornoway/30th; 20.7/Lerwick/30th: The values for Lerwick, Stornoway, Benbecula and Tiree were all new STATION RECORDS for May. London (Heathrow) airport recorded eight consecutive days of above 25 degC, an unprecedented sequence so early in the 'summer'.
 1992 (October):
A COLD month: using the CET series (for central England), the value of 7.8degC placed it equal 4th coldest of the 20th century, but well outside the 'top-10' of cold Octobers. In Scotland, it was the coldest October since 1926, and for Northern Ireland, the coldest since 1896. Unusually high frequency of northerly winds.
 1993 (January):
> On the 10th, an Atlantic depression (new deepest for this area: see below) moved to the NW of Scotland. In the wake of this low, a cold, unstable northwesterly flow brought WINTRY conditions to Northern Ireland and Scotland, with HEAVY WET SNOW conspiring to cause widespread disruption to transport and power supply over the following few days; BLIZZARD conditions were reported across northern hilly districts, with considerable THUNDER activity. Aviemore recorded 51 cm of level snow at midday on the 14th. The combination of SNOW, HEAVY RAIN on top of the melting snow, and SEVERE WINDS, led to several days of distress to people of central Scotland around mid month.
> On the morning of the 5th January, 1993, the oil tanker "Braer", en-route from Norway to Canada, lost engine power as she was passing to the south of Sumburgh, Shetland in a south-westerly STORM (noted as Bft 10 to 11). The HIGH WINDS and equally HIGH SEAS meant that attempts by a tug to secure the vessel came to naught, and she foundered late morning on the peninsula. Then, five days later, on the 10th, yet another Atlantic depression [it was a notably unsettled spell - see under] deepened below 916 mbar (S Burt** says: ' about 912 mbar ') north-west of Scotland: a new low RECORD MSLP for Northern Hemisphere temperate latitudes. The cyclone deepened by 78 mbar in 24 hours 9th / 10th January; the 'most explosively deepening extratropical cyclone on record' ['Weather'/RMetSoc, April 2013]. The storm pounded the by now well-grounded vessel with GUSTS close to or a little above 100 kn and a major oil spill was the result. With the association of this major low with the oil spill, this particular depression is known as "The Braer Storm". [** I have seen 912 or 913mbar mentioned as the absolute lowest PRESSURE, but remember that these values are estimated from analysed charts, balancing for reported wind speeds etc.] { Apparently, although wildlife, particularly in the marine environment, was affected badly by the oil spill, recovery from this disaster was much better than was feared at the time.}
> It was a generally STORMY month, especially over the northern part of Britain, but even in the south, damaging GALES hit on the 13th, 23rd and 24th. At Kirkwall, Orkney on the 17th, GUSTS exceeded 90 knots, when Scotland had a particularly wild day.
 1993 (Autumn):
> The COLDEST autumn (September, October & November) since 1952. The CET anomaly was (minus) 1.7degC on the 1961-90 average; [ c.f. (minus) 2.3degC for the 1952 event. ]
> October 1993 was a very WET month over much of eastern and southern Britain, with the wettest weather occurring in the first half of the month - particularly in the southeastern part of England. The WET spell culminated in three days of heavy rain between the 11th and the 13th with serious FLOODING in south-east England, East Anglia, Lincolnshire and parts of the east Midlands. Parts of East Anglia recorded over 100mm during this period. In spite of the very dry second half, monthly RAINFALL exceeded 200% of average from Dorset to the Moray Firth, and 300% on the Suffolk coast. SNOW showers occurred in north Scotland from the 13th to the 16th, and early on the latter date (16th), Aberdeen airport (Dyce) reported a snow cover of 4cm - the first in mid-October since 1973. This is a good example where the England and Wales Precipitation series doesn't fully reflect the high rainfall of this month: in that series, October 1993 comes out with only just above average precipitation. (EWP / see also entry immediately below ...)
> November 1993: From the 20th to 22nd an unstable easterly flow brought unusually COLD WEATHER with snow showers which were heavy in the east. Some 5 to 10cm of SNOW accumulated in east coast counties from Kent northwards, with 19-20cm in the Aberdeen and Royal Deeside area. FROST was severe at night while daytime maxima remained near or below freezing in places as far apart as Devon and Wester Ross. As the gradient slackened after the 22nd, FREEZING FOG formed widely, and the TEMPERATURE fell to (minus)14.8 degC at both Braemar and Grantown on Spey early on the 24th, and Braemar's afternoon high on the 24th was (minus)8 degC.
 1993/1994 (Autumn/Winter):
The England & Wales Precipitation (EWP) series doesn't do justice to the excessively WET conditions suffered by many parts of southern Britain over these seasons, but even so, it does demonstrate an excess of RAINFALL: for the months of September 1993 to March 1994 inclusive, the overall %age on the all-series mean was 130%. However, looking at the Hurn (Dorset) record reveals the true picture. Here, the total RAINFALL from September 1993 to February 1994 was 815 mm, representing over 170% of the long-term average. Further west, at Dorchester (Dorset), the 'standard' winter (December, January & February) was said to be the wettest for 100 years. The total quoted is 504 mm over these three months. It is no surprise that FLOODING was a feature of the winter & early spring (1993-1994) across many southern counties of England. (EWP, DWxB)
 1994 (February):
A COLD SPELL from the 11th to the 22nd was only 'unusual' in that it reminded people that the UK climate may be changing but not that much! On the 11th, SE winds heralded a steady drop in temperature and light snow flurries occurred widely on the 13th. The 14th was EXCEPTIONALLY COLD (compared to recent winters), with sub zero temperatures all day over a large area ( minus 3.5 degC max at Dunkeswell/upland east Devon; minus 1.5 degC at St. Albans where we were living at the time ), substantial wind chill, and further widespread, though light snow. Overnight, and during the 15th, heavier SNOW spread northwards, depositing some 4 to 10cm [ 8cm at morning reading on 15th, with up to 9.5cm over grass for a time during the snowfall at St. Albans ], followed by fog and a slow thaw in the south, but further snow fell over northern England on the 16th. Between the 16th and the 19th it was less cold in the south, but SEVERE FROSTS and freezing fog affected Scotland and northern England, and Strathallan School (near Perth) recorded a maximum TEMPERATURE of just minus 2.7 degC on the 16th, followed by a minimum of minus 13.8 degC the following night. Very cold east European air returned by the 20th, and widespread moderate SNOWFALLS followed, with Fylingdales on the North York Moors recording 22cm of undrifted snow. Milder air reached southern counties later on the 22nd bringing prolonged rain and much fog, but there was further snow over the next few days from the Midlands northwards.
 1994 (Annual/Summer/Spring):
> Summer: DRIEST at Heathrow since 1976.
> One of the WARMEST years in the GLOBAL record.
 1994 (November):
Exceptionally MILD across the UK. The temperature reached or exceeded 15degC on several days during the period: 2nd to the 12th, and the 3rd was particularly warm with 19.1 degC at London Weather Centre, the highest November temperature in Britain for five years, and the highest in the London area for 10 years. The night of the 13th/14th was the warmest in November since 1947 with minima of 14 or 15 degC.
> The CET of 10.1 degC was 0.6 degC above the previous November record set in 1818 and represents an anomaly of +3.6 degC on the 1961-1990 average. This is (up to 2012 at least) the WARMEST NOVEMBER by CET in the record.
 1994/95 (Winter):
> Winter 94_95: Another (after the previous year) VERY MILD and VERY WET overwinter (Nov to Feb). Exceptionally WARM, certainly when compared with the records since the mid 1960s with high amounts of SUNSHINE. Looking at mean minima temperatures for Dec to Feb, THIRD MILDEST winter this (20th) century.
> WETTEST winter since 1869 taking Britain as a whole. Using the England & Wales series, the total represented circa 160% of the 1961-90 average, and at the time, made it the 4th wettest winter in the EWP series; the previous winter (1993/94 was the fifth wettest).
> January 1995 was in the 'top-5' WETTEST Januarys in the EWP series. Very WET across many areas of central and southern England and south Wales. Heathrow airport/west of London had 224% of normal (January) rainfall highest percentage rainfall in UK, and it was the wettest January that site since records began 1946, and in the London area since 1943.
 1995-1997 (Apr95/Sep97):
30 month PRECIPITATION totals up to September 1997 were the LOWEST on record in England and Wales, with estimated return periods exceeding 200 years in many districts.
> One of two notable DROUGHT periods in the England & Wales composite area at the end of the 20th century (see entries elsewhere for 1990-92). For the 31 month period March 1995 to September 1997, the EWP total=1899 mm, representing 82% of the 1961-90 average. (Some sources consider that this drought, indeed the whole spell of 'dry' periods did not properly end until the exceptionally wet April of 1998.
> In a listing [starts 1910] of notable DROUGHTS across the 'English lowlands', the period April 1995 to April 1997 (25 months, 1004 mm, deficit 422 mm) is ranked number 1 in the dataset. [Kendon, 'Weather'/RMetSoc, April 2013]
Summer: HOT, DRY and notably SUNNY. Some discussion as to whether it beat 1976(*), though in the southeast I think 1976 remains unbeaten. Notable August: record breaking in all respects. (*)=Now confirmed that it was the DRIEST summer in the EWR record (since 1767) i.e. just beating 1976, and taking July & August together, for this combined period, it was the WARMEST in the CET series. Also, for Britain as a whole (i.e. including Scotland), it was the DRIEST June to August period.
> In the five month period April to August 1995 the RAINFALL total for England and Wales (EWR) was the lowest for 200 years. For Scotland only, it was the second driest summer on record.
Altnaharra (Highland / Sutherland) had a daily TEMPERATURE RANGE of 29.3degC on the 30th December, 1995 (according to Burt in 'Weather'), an 'unprecedented daily range), when it equalled the record UK minimum temperature of -27.2degC on the morning of the 30th. {NB: these sort of 'records' are notoriously difficult to keep under review!}
 1995 (Annual):
This year was one of the WARMEST in the GLOBAL surface temperature series, with an anomaly of +0.47 degC. Using the CET record, with a value of 10.5degC, this year was in the 'top-10' of warmest years in that long series representing the 'English lowlands'.
> For the UK as a whole, a notably SUNNY year (amongst the "top-5", with 1989 & 2003), with many stations breaking records for the highest sunshine totals for individual months, and also for annual totals ... beating by a wide margin the values of 1990 in central and northern areas. In March, Elmdon (165h) and Heathrow (195h) exceeded the previous records for that month; In June, Abbotsinch (280h) achieved the same distinction, and August was a notably SUNNY month, with Elmdon (283h), Ringway (284h), Abbotsinch (254h), Rhoose (325h) and Heathrow (295h) exceeding maximum values for the month. For the year, Glasgow, Manchester and Birmingham had highest totals for at least 30 years (and perhaps longer), with London and Cardiff coming close to the 1990 values, which was probably the sunniest in the south in all time.
 1996 (February):
> On the 5th, heavy SNOW spread to much of Scotland, Wales, and south-west England, extending to most of northern England and the Midlands the following morning, and SEVERE DRIFTING occurred in the strong southerly wind. Worst hit were Dumfries and Galloway and Cumbria with over 50cm at Eskdalemuir, while a fall of 35cm at Boltshope Park on the Durham flank of the Pennines took the aggregate snow depth there to 70cm. Motorists were stranded for over 24hr on the M74, with thousands trapped in homes, offices etc.
> The 7th brought HEAVY SNOW to the West Country moors, with a SEVERE GALE for a time in Cornwall and Devon.
> On the 18th, a vigorous depression tracked south eastwards from Scotland to north Germany, and a very strong northerly airflow swept across the country in its wake. It became very cold, with snow showers over the next four days, with a period of HEAVIER DRIFTING SNOW across eastern, central and southern England overnight 19th/20th.
> An unusually COLD month with noted enhanced wind chill. By the CET value (9.1 degC), it was the second COLDEST May of the 20th century, and only just outside the 'top-10' of coldest Mays in the entire series. Mean temperature was below normal throughout the British Isles; by 2 to 3 degC locally in eastern-England. Notably low day maxima included 7 degC at Manston (Kent) on the 3rd, 6 degC at Dunkeswell (Devon) on the 17th and 7 degC at Bournemouth on the 18th.
> On the 16th, a VERY COLD end to the day in the south-east; TEMPERATURES just about reached 5degC and SNOW was reported on the Surrey downs.
> On the 19th, a small but INTENSE DEPRESSION tracked northwards across south-west England and Wales, bringing further HEAVY RAIN with SNOW over the West Country moors and the Welsh hills, and very strong GUSTY WINDS; the Ten-Tors adventure training competition for young people held annually on Dartmoor had to be abandoned, with military helicopters used to rescue some of those taking part.
 1996 (June):
> THUNDERSTORMS developed widely on the 7th, and HAIL fell unusually widely during the evening; BALL LIGHTNING was reported from Tewkesbury (Gloucestershire). From a 'Journal of Meteorology' article, 73.9mm of RAIN fell during the evening of the 7th at Kitford Gardens, near Lockinge on the Oxfordshire/Berkshire border*. TORRO report that this was the most WIDESPREAD occurrence of 'giant hail' in a single outbreak since 1983 (also on 7th June.) [giant hail>=30mm diameter.] LARGE HAIL over: Dorset, Somerset, Wiltshire, Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Suffolk. Lesser diameter hail from: Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Norfolk. The combination of HAIL/LIGHTNING and localised INTENSE RAINFALL caused severe (but irregular) DAMAGE to buildings and crops, together with loss of power supplies etc. The rainfall totals exceeding 30mm occurred in a narrow swathe from just inland of Weymouth, Dorset, NNE'wards across Wiltshire - through west Berkshire and culminating in the heaviest rainfall (~ 74mm) over south Oxfordshire - near Wantage. (* based on radar analysis, which showed rainfall rates of 72mm in 2hr, this would equate to a 'VERY RARE' event. This is judged to have occurred just southeast of Wantage.)
> A HOT spell arrived suddenly (after decidedly indifferent/late spring weather) around the 4th: The 5th was a HOT day with TEMPERATURES up to 29degC in the London area, and heat spread over the next couple of days to large areas of SE England & E. Anglia. On the 7th (see above) MAXIMUM TEMPERATURES exceeded 31 degC in Kent, East Anglia and London, with a maximum of 33.1 degC at St. James' Park, Westminster, which was a NEW DAILY RECORD for that day.
 1996 (December):
> On the 3rd, SNOW was particularly bad in the Scottish/English border country, upwards of 25 cm deep, with SEVERE DRIFTING, roads closed, and power supplies badly disrupted.
> On the 27th, and again on the 30th/31st, some HEAVIER FALLS OF SNOW occurred in parts of eastern England 25 cm over the North Downs in east and mid Kent. Many other areas from East Anglia to Sussex/ east Hampshire experienced falls up to 10 cm, with DRIFTING SNOW on the 31st in Essex reported some 60 to 90 cm.
 1996 (Annual):
DRIEST year in the Heathrow record (started 1947). COLDEST year since the mid 1980s as well.
 1997 (Spring/Summer):
The 10-year running mean PRECIPITATION total was running at an ALL-CENTURY LOW. (This confirms the marked lack of RAINFALL over the period since 1995.)
 1995-1997 (April 1995 to September 1997):
> 30 month PRECIPITATION totals up to September 1997 were the LOWEST on record in England and Wales, with estimated return periods exceeding 200 years in many districts.
> One of two notable DROUGHT periods in the England & Wales composite area at the end of the 20th century (see entries elsewhere for 1990-92). For the 31 month period March 1995 to September 1997, the EWP total=1899 mm, representing 82% of the 1961-90 average. (Some sources consider that this drought, indeed the whole spell of 'dry' periods did not properly end until the exceptionally wet April of 1998.
 1997 (August):
An exceptionally WARM month. By the CET series, with a value of 18.9degC, this was some 3.1degC above the 1961-90 average, and was the second-warmest (at the time) such named month in the series. Of even more note, it was the fourth HOTTEST any-namedmonth of the series, with only July 1983, August 1995 & July 2006 hotter (as at 2013). Much of eastern and central Britain reported mean maximum temperatures 4 to 5 degC above the long term average, and a few locations in East Anglia were more than 5 degC above. Mean monthly minimum temperatures were also well above: some 4 to 5 degC: reflecting the frequent EXCESSIVELY WARM AND UNCOMFORTABLY HUMID NIGHTS. (Part of a notably WARM summer, which, unusually, was also WET: by the EWP series, the anomaly for the summer was 140%.)
 1997 (Autumn):
> The SUNSHINE total for Heathrow for the 3 autumn months was 423 hr, which was the highest total since 1971, and was quite exceptional. Note that 1996 was also very sunny. (See also 2003).
> Another DRY autumn: 57% of average rainfall, when we were looking for a wet spell to offset the DROUGHT. This makes the third below average autumn in a row. (q.v. the late 80s/early 90s).
 1997 (November):
The TEMPERATURE reached 20.7degC at Aber (North Wales) on the 17th. This is one of the latest dates for temperatures this high in the UK (but see 1906). Only a very few Novembers produce temperatures >=20degC, e.g. 1906, 1938, 1946, this one & 2003.
 1997 (December):
On the 17th, many south coast resorts woke to a 5 to 10 cm winter SNOWFALL on this day (up to 15cm in the Portsmouth area, the Mendips and on Dartmoor: 20cm SNOWDRIFTS in the Brighton area). This was preceded by a spell of BITTERLY COLD/STRONG EAST WINDS that had set in on the 15th, and other parts of southwest Britain, including many parts of Wales had some significant SNOWFALL accompanied by STRONG or GALE-FORCE WINDS/DRIFTING early on the 17th, with many schools in the West of England and Wales closed for the day (250 in Wales, 100 in Cornwall and 180 in Devon). Air, railway and ferry services badly DISRUPTED with SNOWDRIFTS blocking many roads in the south. (However, on the following day, temperatures in places reached 14 degrees!)
 1997 (Annual):
> For the WORLD, one of the WARMEST in the record that has been worked up since 1860. The record El Nino, with anomalies of well above +4degC, and in some places up to +5 or +6 degC, was a major contributor.
For the CET SERIES, ( 10.53 degC/1.0 degC above the 1961 to 90 average ) the seventh warmest [as at 2012], after 2006 (10.8 degC), 2011 (10.7), 1990 & 1999 (10.6degC), 1949 & 2002 (10.6 degC [ series begins 1659 ]. Only because the January of 1997 was cold, does this year not touch the record.
> For the UK, British TORNADO total probably the highest since 1984. There were 36 tornadoes in 1997, the highest annual total since 1984. February had 8, which is the equal second highest total on record for that month. Seven tornadoes in May, easily exceeding the previous record of 4 in 1950, and nine in June, exceeding the old record of seven in 1968. August had 5, which was the highest number reported for that month since 1985.
> HEAVY SNOWFALLS rare over the UK. (reflecting the warmth noted at 1. above).
 1997/98 (Winter - extended where necessary):
> The EWP value for this winter was 96% (242 mm) ... not excessive when you consider that most people would have thought it was a 'wet-one'! The importance was that we were in the middle of a DROUGHT and the near-average RAINFALL was very welcome. The individual monthly % values were: December: 106%; January 132% and February 31% (20 mm) ... note the exceptionally DRY February! Looking at a longer period ... Autumn + Winter (September to February), for the west London area, this gives rise to just 69% of average rainfall, and was the second DRY autumn/winter in a row.
> SUNSHINE for Heathrow was 226 hours: the highest winter total for at least 25 years.
> It was an EXCEPTIONALLY MILD winter, with little 'real snow' to speak of. For Heathrow, although not record-breaking, the fact that it wasn't exceptionally wet was noteworthy.
 1998 (June + July):
Noted as being the SECOND WETTEST combination of months in the Scottish composite rainfall series (started 1869). ( The wettest is noted as being 1938 )
 1998 (Annual):
> According to the MetO/Hadley updated (in 2012) dataset, 1998 was the third-WARMEST year (since 1850): it was narrowly beaten by 2005 and 2010.
> In the CET record, 1998 value is 10.34degC (+0.8degC on 1961-90 mean). This value just falls outside the 'top-10' of warm years in that record.
> A disappointing year ... a marked lack of sunshine and plenty of rain. No winter to speak of at either end! No month was very cold ... only April, July and November had CET values below normal, but by only a few tenths of a degree C. Several months in the year were NOTABLY WARMER: Jan (+1.4), Feb (+3.5), March (+2.2) and May (+1.9). However the three 'summer' months of June, July and August were nondescript, coming out slightly colder than normal. The warmth of the early year came at a time when people can't make use of it.
> RAINFALL: a NOTEWORTHY year. At Glasgow (Abbotsinch), it was the WETTEST year since 1990, which itself was the wettest year in the 1970-99 series. At Ringway (Manchester) it was the WETTEST year since 1981, again the wettest in the 1970-99 series. At Birmingham (Coleshill), it was easily the WETTEST in a composite record for Elmdon/Coleshill in the 1970-99 period; the previous wettest year in this period was 820mm in 1992; in 1998, 913mm of RAIN was recorded. It is also worth noting that this record year for Birmingham comes only 2 years after the DRIEST year in the 30 year period. Finally, at Heathrow (London), it was the WETTEST year since 1974.
> In the EWP series, the very WET April (131 mm/214%) was in the 'top-5' wettest Aprils in that series (as at 2013); October was also very wet. The Midland FLOODS of just before Easter, and the October FLOODS in the Severn/Welsh valleys were the result.
> By the EWP series, not quite so remarkable (circa 1063 mm/~110%), but as we were on course for a notable DROUGHT up to the end of the 1997/98 winter, an 'average' year was just what was needed!
> A notable year for TORNADOES: highest total for reports since 1984, which was also a warm year by the CET series.
> SUNSHINE: Also a 'noteworthy' year! At Ringway, it was the DULLEST year since 1978, itself the dullest in the 1970-99 series; At Coleshill, the DULLEST since 1969 by a long way. The combination of lack of sunshine, and high rainfall (and high number of raindays ---- at Heathrow, there were more days with rain recorded 0.1mm or more, than 'dry' days), it really was a depressing theme to the year. [ Incidentally, we can knock El Nino on the head: the last major El Nino event was in 1982/83; the year following that (1983) was on the dry side and certainly warmer ... the summer that year was especially fine. In my series for Heathrow, it was the 6th finest summer of the 20th century. This time, we had a wet, dull year, with an indifferent summer. ]
> Further to the notes re: TEMPERATURES (above), research in 2000 suggested that not only was 1998 the WARMEST year in the instrumental record but using proxy data (e.g. tree rings, sedimentary bore-hole analysis etc.), 1998 was probably the WARMEST year in the Northern Hemisphere in the second Christian Millennium.
 1997 & 1998: (Christmas holiday period): STORMY WINDS FOUR TIMES OVER
On the 24th December 1997 (Christmas Eve), an INTENSE SECONDARY DEPRESSION tracked north-east across Scotland, bringing WIDESPREAD RAIN and SEVERE GALES. Altogether, six people died, many buildings were SERIOUSLY DAMAGED, thousands of trees were uprooted, electricity supply was disrupted for up to four days, and Blackpool pier was breached.
On the 4th January, 1998 an INTENSE SECONDARY DEPRESSION crossed Ireland and northern England and a SEVERE GALE swept Wales and southern England. Probably the most severe as a whole across southern England and South Wales since the "Burns Day Storm" in 1990. Power and communications were disrupted, structural damage occurred widely, and there was FLOODING along rivers and coasts.
26th December, 1998: Severe gale over Northern Ireland (also affected the Republic of Ireland badly), central and southern Scotland and northern counties of northern England. Widespread disruption, with considerable loss of power supply over Northern Ireland and southern Scotland.
29th December, 1998: Severe gale - again - across Northern Ireland and Scotland. Not quite so bad as on the 26th, but too soon after the earlier event to allow repairs to be fully made.
 1999 (February):
HEAVY/DRIFTING SNOW affected the northern half of Scotland on several days between the 5th and 11th: By the morning of the 8th, snow-depth at Aberdeen was 13cm, and up to 27cm of snow recorded at Aberdeen by the 10th. Much disruption, with schools closed, roads blocked etc.
 1999 (July):
The EWP value was 26 mm, which represents some 40% of the long-period average, and edges this month just into the 'top-10' DRIEST Julys in that series (as at 2013). This was despite some spectacular thunderstorms, although this is not unusual in such broadly based series.
 1999 (September):
WARMEST September, using the CET series, since 1949. [NB: both Septembers comprehensively eclipsed by September 2006 q.v.]
 1999 (Autumn/early Winter):
> A remarkable SUNNY three months: (September, October and November). In a broad swathe from southern England (excluding Kent and East Anglia), northwards across much of the rest of England, and west into mid and south Wales, anomalies for these three months were in excess of 120%. In the central lowlands of Scotland as well as into Fife, anomalies were around 120%. Of particular note was the October in this series, which for England & Wales was the second sunniest in a series which starts in 1909 (sunniest was 1959). In 1959, the large amounts of sunshine in that October were more evenly distributed, only Northern Ireland missing out to any extent), with anomalies widely 135% or more. In 1999, England, Wales were most favoured, with a bias towards southern England.
> Also the SUNNIEST December since 1962 over England and Wales.
 1999 (Annual):
> A WARM (and fairly SUNNY*) year ..... Equal WARMEST (at the time) in the CET series ... (with 1990 & 1949) with CET values=10.6degC. (but see 2006 & 2011, both beating these years, with 2006 now the WARMEST year in the CET series.)
[ 1999 was also a WARM year globally: The Hadley Centre noted the anomaly as +0.33degC on the 1961-90 average. As of this year, 7 out of the 'top-10' warmest years have been in the decade of the 1990s. The reason why 1999 was not as warm as 1998, at least in part, was the long-lasting and notable cooling event in the equatorial Pacific - La Nina. ]
> *The England & Wales sunshine figure (series began in 1909) was 115% of the average.
2. Some areas were notably WET. For example, in the Glasgow area (using a combination of Abbotsinch & Bishopton** readings), there was a total RAINFALL for the year of over 1350 mm, beating the highest total (for the last 30 yr) of 1349 mm set in 1990, and perhaps the wettest year in the local record in the 20th century. The year ended on a very WET note particularly in Wales, the West of England, along southern counties of England (south coastal flooding), and across Scotland and Northern Ireland. ( Note however, that by the EWP series, it turns out to be an 'average' year. ) [ **using the two stations together is problematical as there are distinct differences in climatology.]
3. RJPrichard in JMet says " (1999) the most THUNDERY year of the nineties". The summary published in JMet (May 2000) states " records from many of our observers across England & Wales indicated that 1999 was their most THUNDERY year since 1983 ". Also, probably the year with the most TORNADOES since 1982.
 1999 (December):
Some notable SEVERE STORMS .. yet again (see also 1997 & 1998). In particular, a rapidly deepening depression crossed northern areas early in the month (3rd), a SEVERE STORM affecting northern England, north Wales, south & east Scotland on Christmas Eve (24th), and around 26th - 28th, although not immediately affecting the UK, two devastating storms crossing France and countries further east, with widespread DAMAGE/ DISRUPTION. Over 100 people died from these latter storms, with large portions of the French national power supply put out of action. The Channel Islands also caught the edge of these latter storms.
 1990s (Decade):
According to research published in 2001 (see for example 'Weather' March, 2001), this decade was the WARMEST decade in the Northern Hemisphere in the second Christian millennium.

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Researched by and published with permission from Martin Rowley