Saturday, 14 February 2009

The worst winter in living memory (depending on age!)

It has probably been the worst winter for reporting weather facts since records began, but what about some real statistics. Okay, that's boring, but with the media telling us that the 'Big Freeze' is over it may be time to put some sobering thoughts together. Comments at the local bus stop range from 'Don't remember a winter like it' to 'Winters were often like this when I was young'. Well, yes, both statements could be true, depending on age. The Met. Office defines 'winter' as the three months December, January and February. In this winter, none of the months have been record-breaking in this area. December was the coldest since 2001, January was the coldest since 1997, and this month, although the coldest since 1986 at the moment, will probably end up as the coldest since 1991 or perhaps 1996. So, certainly no extremes there. The 'winter' started early for the media with October snow around London, and further snow fell in November, although that month, as a whole, was milder than average. Of interest, is the fact that the three winter months (unless the rest of February becomes very mild indeed!) have all been colder than average and the mean temperature is comparably cold with only 3 winters during the last 30 years. There is no way (famous last words!!) that this winter will be as cold as that of 1978/79, but it will probably be the coldest since 1995/96, perhaps the coldest since 1990/91, and maybe the coldest since 1985/86. If colder weather returns at the end of the month, then it will be the coldest winter in this area for 30 years, and for many, many people that's outside of 'living memory'.

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