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Philip Eden On Easter Weather

April 5, 2013

By Paul Homewood


Philip Eden


h/t John McEntee


Philip Eden is one of the country’s leading meteorologists, and also an accomplished weather historian. He has a weekly column in the Sunday Telegraph, which usually makes for interesting reading. Last week’s was no exception.

Unfortunately the Telegraph never seem to publish these online, and , besides, the paper is now behind a paywall. So you’ll all have to make do with my scanned copy!


Responding to widespread claims that we have just had the “coldest Easter ever”, he makes two sets of important points:-


1) Weather data prior to 1910 is ignored.


He says:-


This reminds us that the Met Office has decreed that all records now begin in 1910 and everything before that, often assiduously recorded by Victorian scientists, has now been consigned to the rubbish bin.

I raised the point in the correspondence columns of the Royal Meteorological Society’s journal, Weather, in 2007, and was assured by the head of the National Climate Information Centre that, where appropriate, reference would be made to records extending back to 1766 for rainfall and 1659 for temperature. It does not seem to have happened.


This is a fairly damning criticism, and one that does not only apply to the Met.

It is a complaint I often have, for instance when the Met compare rainfall trends back only to 1960, which was an unusually dry decade.


2) This Easter’s weather is certainly not unprecedented.


He quotes many examples, such as :-


Taking a geographical average over the four-day Easter period, 1879, 1883, 1908, 1917, 1937, 1958, 1964, 1983 and 2008 were all as cold or colder.

White Easters occur marginally more frequently than white Christmases.

The Easter of 1958 was particularly bleak, with snow depth of 6” in Durham, and 5” in Surrey.

Easter 1917 was exceptionally cold, with localised heavy snow.

Easter 1908, a very late Easter, began a spell of wintry weather, that culminated in 1ft – 2ft of snow as far south as Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Hampshire.



Philip Eden always takes great pleasure in demolishing the various claims of the “never had it like this before” brigade. By bringing us all back to earth, it serves to remind us that whatever weather we get now, you can guarantee we have had the same in the past.



  1. April 5, 2013 6:43 pm

    This article is unprecedented.

  2. Ray permalink
    April 5, 2013 6:48 pm

    “and was assured by the head of the National Climate Information Centre that, where appropriate, reference would be made to records extending back to 1766 for rainfall and 1659 for temperature”

    I am sure that they will make reference to older records when it suits them to do so.

  3. April 5, 2013 7:31 pm

    Good one Paul. It will be interesting to see the Met Office snow statistics this year. I am sure it is not my imagination that we have had more days of falling snow and of lying snow than usual.

  4. John F. Hultquist permalink
    April 6, 2013 2:43 am

    I enjoy these sorts of historical reports, so two comments:

    The date of Easter changes and this was an early one – although not as early as is possible. Thus, the inclusion of “Easter 1908, a very late . . . ”
    —is an important thing to note.

    A family I know has a ritual of making an Easter Rhubarb pie with their very own fresh stalks. This year was almost a disaster as the Rhubarb had just barely made its appearance. A couple of cups of frozen Strawberries were added to the filling. We were helping a local winegrower prune vines and got a daily update from another pruner. For the record, the vines are running a little late this year also. Some European vineyards have been keeping records for hundreds of years. It surprises me that I have not seen a report about bud-break, sugar levels, and so on. I know it would require much time for someone to do this. I also suspect it would not contribute to the CAGW, otherwise, someone would have gotten a grant for the effort.

  5. April 6, 2013 11:24 am

    Reblogged this on Tallbloke's Talkshop and commented:
    As well as being meteorologically informative, Paul Homewood’s post raises the issue of the trend towards paywalling online editions of UK newspapers. Both are up for discussion in this thread.

  6. Bloke down the pub permalink
    April 6, 2013 1:37 pm

    ‘Unfortunately the Telegraph never seem to publish these online, and , besides, the paper is now behind a paywall’

    While the on line edition may not include Eden’s column, it’s not behind a paywall.

    • April 6, 2013 3:31 pm

      Apparently you get 20 free views a month, then have to pay £1.99/month. They’ve already got my money!!!

      • Bloke down the pub permalink
        April 8, 2013 10:12 am

        Shows my powers of observation. I only noticed an ad today for the subscription. Ho hum.

  7. April 6, 2013 5:34 pm

    Here in NE Oregon-which is much like the Colorado/Idaho Rocky Mountains, snow on any
    Easter is not uncommon or unheard of. We have a smallish warmist community here,
    Mainly Academics, at the local university, their students, and a few local supporters of wind
    power that blanch in fear of coal trains and Nuclear Power…(BTW local Golden Eagle populations are declining in the area of the Wind turbines..)
    I hold that our generation seems to have at best, a 30 year attention span. As we seem to be cooling off, I wonder if the next big thing will be a return to the “ICE AGE!!” fears of the
    70’s? Trouble is it may be exactly that-but not due to our environmental sins…

  8. Alex permalink
    April 7, 2013 6:42 am

    Some sects believe that the world was created 5000 years ago. Another sect believes that it was created in 1910.

  9. April 7, 2013 7:15 am

    This is where history books and online newspaper archives come in – go back to any point in the past and there’s a litany of floods, freezes, and more “global weirding” than you can shake a stick at. The trouble is, in the world of climate everything’s new and ominous – what would have been seen as just weather, a century ago, is now seen as a sign.


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