Sunday, 21 February 2010

Northwest England our cold winter

Sunday 21st Feb 2010.

Snowdrops in Littondale March 1st last year (2009)

Another snowfall over night and this morning caused us to cancel our weekly Sunday walk, it just shows how our weather can change after yesterdays walk above the mist (see yesterdays blog). Today we were going to walk in Littondale to view the thousands of snowdrops that grow on the banks of the River Skirfare which flows through the beautiful village of Arncliffe. At the end of Feb and early in March the churchyard is covered with drifts of snowdrops which overspill onto the banks of the river and along the grass verges through the village, I can't remember a year when we had to cancel our snowdrop walk, so it got me thinking, so I've looked back through the years at the winter weather statistics in my diaries and cinefilm records in our area of Northwest England and compared them to this winter.
There are 3 snowy cold winters that stand out in my lifetime. The winter with the heaviest snowfalls on record was the winter of 1947.There's one stong memory of that year that sticks in my mind, it was the distance the sledges travelled from the top of the local Golfcoarse, they could sledge over the top of the wall at the bottom of the coarse because of the depth of the snow and carry on right down into the village, in those day it was just fields giving another 1/4 mile of good sledging (see this winters sledging photo to give you some idea)
In 1947 you could sledge over the wall( between the girl in the Blue coat and the trees) and straight down into the village along the side of the newer houses.
The winter of 1963 was also a long snowy winter it began snowing on New years day and the cold weather persisted until Mid- March. That winter an oil company was doing some oil exploration on the moors in our area and the the oilmen told me that it was the worst weather conditions that they had ever experienced saying was it worst than drilling in Alaska because of the damp cold.
In 1979 the snow started in early January and there was very little letup for 14 weeks, the strong easterly winds being the problem with the drifting snow filling in the roads, I've a good film record of that winter, it wasn't until early April that I found the first Spring flowers and they were Coldsfoot growing on a banking facing south.
And now for this winter 2009-2010 these are the statistics so far recorded in my diary.
First snowfall 17th Dec 2009 very cold weather until the 17th Jan 2010 with either laying snow and frosty or snowing days with a couple of days with a slight thaw, the coldest night being on the 7th Jan -12c on my garden thermometer, heaviest snowfall on Jan.5th around 9 inches of level snow.The weather came a little milder until the 4th Feb ( highest temp on the 28th Jan ...5c) but the snow never thawed away totally with either frozen ground and ice about and always a covering of snow on the surrounding Moors.
From the 4th Feb up to the 21st Feb (today) always cold with frosty nights and sunny days with various snow cover but not deeper than 11/2 inches at valley level.
So to sum up this winter so far
48 days of lying snow
-12c coldest night 5 c warmest day
9 inches heaviest snowfall
This winter has not had anywhere near the amount snow of the earlier winters I've recorded but it has been the coldest on that 1 night, we're not quite out of the woods yet, perhaps it seems to be a cold long winter because of all the mild ones we've had over recent years.


  1. Sounds like it was a really good sledge run in earlier years. I have to admit that even now I love to have a go at sledging when my grandson comes over, although, I don't like the walk back up the hill especially to the voice of "Hurry up Gran!"

  2. Shame your walk was cancelled, it seems like we both had the same idea about snowdrops. But we dont seem to get them in the numbers that you get.
    Cheers Colin.

  3. I loved reading your weather records, so very interesting. My mother in law told me about the snow in 1947, she was living in Manchester at the time.

    Even in SE UK the weather has been bitterly cold and plenty of snow and hard frosts. My lowest temperature has been -9C but it feels much colder as I live in a low lying area....damp cold, not good. My snowdrops are in bloom and they are a pleasing sight to be sure.