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Home > Weather in History 500 to 750AD
 Date T R S  Description  Ref:
 ~ AD500  By this time, the storminess of the latter part of the 5th Century (q.v.) had 're-arranged' some coastal alignment in East Anglia. A sea-level rise noted, BUT, Lamb considers that this may have more to do with reporting of increased frequency of inland storm-driven surges, rather than a general world-wide sea level rise. Also note that evidence of significant rise in peat bog deposits by or around this time: therefore implies greater 'wetness' (and presumably cyclonicity).  1
 AD508  Possible severe winter. Rivers frozen for two months. Years also quoted as 507 or 509.  8,
 AD520  Major storm surge in Cardigan Bay.  1
 AD525  Possible severe winter. Thames frozen for 6 weeks.  8
 AD536 [or perhaps AD535]
 Volcanic eruption# (East Indies) at around 4degS is estimated to have put around 300Mt of aerosols into the stratosphere (c.f. Tambora in 1815 of 200Mt which led to the 'year without a summer' q.v.). This would have brought about an abrupt drop in world-wide temperature, and concomitant changes in atmospheric (& perhaps oceanic) circulation. It is thought that the effects (famine etc.) were experienced over the (then) known world, with a 'severe plague' in the years 541-544 possibly connected; up to 25% of the populations of Africa, Europe and Asia affected. A 'famine' / shortage of bread noted over Ireland in 538, and, if accepted as part of this phase, a severe winter in 554. [ some publications have the effects lasting until at least 555, and certainly tree-ring data suggest a period of reduced growth for western Europe up to at least 545. The implied NAOI would have been highly negative, with well-above average pressure over Greenland / Iceland sector, and lower values around the Azores. These events may be the origin of the 'Fimbul winter' of Norse legend.] (R.Met.S/'Weather' Feb. 2004 & "The Long Summer"/Fagan: see also: ..
** There is confusion with dating in some texts: 536 is mentioned a lot, but I fancy this is the year when the major world-wide effects were noted: Ice-core sampling suggests the actual year of the major eruption was 535.
## Alternative theories have been put forward for the world-wide effects noted: either a large comet hitting the earth, injecting huge amounts of debris into the atmosphere, or the Earth passing through a cloud of inter-stellar dust.
 R.Met.S, 20
 Intensely cold winter (London / South) & possibly over a wider area (according to Easton, in CHMW/Lamb).  1, 8
(perhaps 549)
 Possible severe gale/storm in London; many houses damaged and several people killed.  8,
 Severe winter: Some confusion between 545 & 554, but Easton (in Lamb/1.) notes both winters as being notably cold / severe. Winter 'so severe' with frost & snow that 'the birds and wild animals became so tame as to allow themselves to be taken by hand'. (A Meteorological Chronology, quoted in "The Long Summer"/Fagan ref: 20)  1, 8, 20
 A cold winter. (Easton, in CHMW/Lamb)  1
 AD566  [ date / season not given, but possibly linked to the cold winter noted above. ] Possible 'Great Storm' affecting eastern & mid-coasts of southern England - 'serious damage'. [ ]  (See text)
 AD580 - 600  Indications of several, or a succession of wet years. Also, tree-lines by this time were falling & glaciers advancing.  1
 AD586  North Sea: floods & great storm.  LWH
 AD589  Durham: storm flood - sea swept away villages, many drowned.  LWH
(January - September)
  England: drought. Taken with the entry below, implies considerable blocking / extended periods of high pressure.  LWH
 A cold winter. (Easton, in CHMW/Lamb)  1
 AD604  Severe frost in England. Also noted as a 'severe winter' in Scotland, with 4 months frost.  8,
 AD605  Drought (possible). Also, 'great heat'.  8
 c.AD630  Thames flood in London.  8
 Ulster, Ireland: snow - killed many.   LWH
 c. AD640's around this time, some 'cold' years noted. 1
 AD679-681  According to legend, the drought (only certain for southern England) which ended in 681, and which was claimed to have lasted for three years, was broken on the day that Bishop Wilfrid converted the South Saxons to Christianity. (Actually, converting the King of the time, who would have then imposed the religion on his court and subsequently the people). Known as 'St. Wilfrid's drought'.  8,
 AD684  Ireland: Cold - lakes, rivers & sea froze. [ If this sort of weather was noted across Ireland, I would think that Britain would also have been affected: suggests anticyclonic / blocked, with an easterly type resulting. ]   LWH
 AD685  Coloured rain: often noted as 'Bloody Rain'. [ Coloured rain (or contaminated rain) is usually due to the atmosphere carrying very fine sand / dust, due to sand/dust-storms in arid areas, or volcanic dust [ due to major eruptions ] which may have an origin a considerable distance away from the place where the rain fell - often measured in thousands of miles / km. The sand / dust is washed out from the middle troposphere. Vesuvius and Etna are thought to have been very active in 685, and the 'bloody rain' which fell in this year probably contained volcanic dust. Whatever the source, it does suggest that the atmospheric conditions were such that tropical continental (Tc) airflow was involved, with a highly-blocked long-wave pattern in place. A mobile, westerly (or Atlantic) type doesn't allow the lengthy fetch at mid-levels of these contaminated winds. (Various years given, from 684 to 689)  8
 AD693  Ireland: Flooding due to heavy / prolonged rainfall - Leinster rivers flood for 3 days & nights.   LWH
(but possibly 695/696)
 Severe winter. Thames frozen for six weeks - booths were built on the thick ice.  1, 8, LWH
(or perhaps 721)
 Wales - very hot summer (& assumed to be dry).  LWH
 AD737  Great drought .. London/South.  8
 AD738  Scotland: flood (assumed to be due to heavy / intense rainfall) - 400 families drowned in Glasgow.  LWH
 AD741  Great drought .. London/South.  8
(but could be anytime between
744 & 748)
 Ireland - Great snow destroyed herds. This would have been a major disaster.

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Researched by and published with permission of Martin Rowley