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Snow Trends At Woburn–Update

January 7, 2017

By Paul Homewood



I looked at snowfall trends at Woburn last week, using the Snow Survey of Great Britain, which gave data from 1947 to 1992.

It showed the number of days when snow was lying.

I asked the Met Office if there was more recent data, and they sent me data up to 1998/9.

So now the graph looks like this:





We can see that the 1990s were snowier than most of the years in the 1970s and 80s. This rather spoils the theory that there is a long term trend to less snow.

It also reinforces the view that there was a one off shift at the end of the 1960s.

This raises the question as to whether the 1950s and 60s were actually the exception.


Unfortunately we don’t have data since 1997/8, but we can get a clue from the monthly maps produced by the Met Office, which show days of snow lying.

These run from Jan 2001 to Dec 2010.

For instance, Jan 2001. Woburn is approximately circled.




The map works on bandings, but if we assume mid range, for instance 1 to 4 = 2.5, the new graph looks like this.




Note that there is no data for 2000. Also that the Met Office numbers from 1946 to 1999 are for snow seasons, beginning in October. My figures, collated from the maps, are in calendar years, as this allows me to maximise the number of years shown.


There seems to be little overall difference between the 1990s and 2000s. It is also apparent that we get a very snowy winter perhaps a couple of times every decade, but most years have five or less days with snow.

Certainly the last two winters have been unusually mild, but this is not exceptional in Woburn’s record. There were similar periods, for instance,1971-74, and later 1987-89.

Estimating numbers from the map is not ideal of course, but it is worth pointing out that Woburn is a genuinely rural site, and would certainly see more snow than the urbanised areas in the region. Therefore, my numbers are more likely to be underestimated if anything.

  1. Peter Stokes permalink
    January 7, 2017 7:04 pm

    Yet another excellently researched and factual article. Pity we don’t get such quality from the ‘warmist’ faction.

  2. mothcatcher permalink
    January 7, 2017 7:47 pm

    Just curious, Paul.
    Why Woburn? Have I missed a post, or is that where you live?

    • mothcatcher permalink
      January 7, 2017 7:52 pm

      Okay, stand easy!
      Just found the earlier post, which you did link to.

    • January 7, 2017 10:34 pm

      No. I came across the “Snow Survey of Great Britain” that used to be published each year upto 1992.

      As the BBC had just run a programme about how snow had been declining in England (or specifically Kent) since the 1960s, I thought I would do some checks.

      The only station in the South in the survey was Woburn

      This is the first post:

  3. TinyCO2 permalink
    January 7, 2017 8:36 pm

    It’s odd that one of the worst winters 1990/1991 doesn’t feature. What has long been a feature of our snowfall has been snow followed by rapid thawing when a warm front comes over. Often the same one that delivered the snow. The snow in December 1990 followed a few weeks of cold including freezing fog if I remember correctly. While the snow in the Midlands was deep, it barely touched Warrington.

    The 2009/10 winter was unusual in that the cold followed the snow, which meant it was on the ground for a lot longer. It was the first time I remember snow sticking to vertical surfaces and did so for days. So all that needs to happen for snow to linger is for the high pressure to follow the snow, blocking the next waves of warm fronts.

  4. Jackington permalink
    January 7, 2017 10:51 pm

    Pictures on TV tonight showing huge dollops of global warming all over Europe, and Turkey. -43 in parts of Russia. This is just weather I suppose.

    • tom0mason permalink
      January 8, 2017 1:13 am

      Maybe the atmospheric CO2 hasn’t fully mixed yet. 😉

    • NeilC permalink
      January 8, 2017 6:13 am

      Even the Biased Broadcasting Company (World Sevice and R4) have been reporting the cold over Russia this morning,

    • RogerJC permalink
      January 8, 2017 6:44 pm

      Tonight’s weather forecast is for the UK to get very cold by later in the week. It will be interesting to see how our renewables cope. Grid Watch shows just how little the current Wind contribution is (1.5 Gw). Will we see the first power shortages this week? If so let’s hope it acts as a wake up call.

  5. Gerry, England permalink
    January 8, 2017 12:40 pm

    In all this remember that it doesn’t have to snow to be cold. In my youth I can remember a February half term where it had snowed just before but then remained below freezing for every day of the week’s holiday. It made the snow useless for snow balls. There was no additional snow as high pressure sat over us for that spell.

  6. Eric Hutchinson permalink
    January 8, 2017 3:24 pm

    In the winter of 1962/3 I was doing some research into a heronry at Newton Park College, near Bath. Since 1961 the population was decimated. Seven nests were occupied in 1963 compared with the seventy previously. Kingfishers were terribly affected too. When, at term end, I returned to the family home near Evesham,market garden friends told me of pulling dead pigeons from sprout stems to which they had been frozen . For some time before the weather had not been so extreme and it was to be some time after before it was nearly as cold. Wish the warmists could develop a sense of history and realise it has all happened before.

  7. tom0mason permalink
    January 11, 2017 3:48 am

    Another little quote I’ve picked-up over the years. If anyone knows the origin I would be most obliged to know…

    Late Season Snow in the UK

    January and February are the snowiest months in the UK, whilst snow is more likely in March and April than November and October respectively. And really this is where talk of snow might be expected to end. However, having already most likely teased us with some pleasant summer-like weather earlier in the spring May is prone to throwing in a touch of winter, perhaps more often than might be thought………

    A trawl through the archives reveals that on 17th May 1955 was probably the most notable May snowfall on record. Much of England and Wales was affected by several hours of snow (Eden 1995), including two to three hours’ worth in the London area (Brazell, 1968).

    Coincidentally, the same date twenty years earlier in 1935 also saw England and Wales affected by widespread snow with some places, including theWirral and parts of Devon recording several inches of snow (Eden 1995). Incidentally, on 17th May 1935 snow also fell in the central Netherlands (Zwart 1985) and this is the latest in the season that snow has been observed here.

    May 8th 1943 saw snow falling over parts of northern Britain as a depression tracked eastwards across north Wales. The Isle of Man was among the worst hit places and in Douglas 15cms snow lay on the ground by the morning of the 9th (Pritchard 1997?), whilst virtually the whole of Scotland was affected, including falls of 7cms at Duntulm, Isle of Skye (Stirling 1997). Such is the fickleness of May weather that just a few days later temperatures reached 30C in Kent.

    Other notable instances of May snowfall include that of mid-May 1923, Scotland’s coldest May of the 20th century and the century’s second coldest May in England and Wales, whilst May 18th 1968 saw snow falling as far south as the Midlands. Meanwhile, a little more recently the Mays of 1979, 1981 and 1982 started with widespread wintry showers whilst May 13th 1993 saw several centimetres of snow settling over the higher ground in central Britain (Pritchard 1997?), including a fall of 30cm at Moor House in County Durham by the 14th (Stirling 1997).

    Stepping back into the nineteenth century Eden (1995) and Stirling (997) report widespread snow England between the 16th and 18th May 1891. Snow fell to depths of several inches in some places, including falls measured at 15cms deep in parts of the Midlands and East Anglia. A few days earlier on the 10th snow had fallen as far south as Bath and London (Stirling 1997).

    Meanwhile, Gordon Manley, writing in Weather in 1975 tells of snowfall in southern Britain on 22nd May 1867 and 27th May 1821 whilst Brazell (1968) mentions snow as having fallen in or close to the London area on 12th May 1816, ‘the year without a summer’.

    Moving into the eighteenth and late seventeenth centuries Manley (1975) raises the possibility of snow being observed on parts of the higher ground in Sussex on 12th June 1791. Early May snowfall was recorded in parts of the London area in 1770 whilst in 1698 a widespread deep snow was reported all over England on 3rd May (Brazell 1968).

    Inevitably June snowfall is a much rarer creature, but widespread sleet and snow showers did manage to affect the United Kingdom on 2nd June 1975, rudely and infamously affecting a cricket match between Derbyshire and Lancashire at Buxton where early afternoon snow covered the pitch with around an inch of snow (Markham, 1994, Eden 1995). Elsewhere, snow settled on hills just south of Birmingham (Eden 1995), whilst to the south and east Manley (1975) reports snow being observed in both Cambridge and London and another county cricket match, this time featuring Essex and Kent, being played in Colchester was interrupted by snow (Ogley et al. 1993). Meanwhile, sleet showers were observed in RAF Manston in eastern Kent, Hassocks, Sussex and Totton and Portsmouth in Hampshire (COL Bulletin 1975, Eden 1995, Ogley en al 1995).

    In his book Weatherwise, Philip Eden (1995) wonderfully describes this June snowfall as, “surely the most outrageous thing that June has ever done to us, meteorologically speaking”. It also seems that in recent times at least this is the latest in the season that such widespread snow has managed to affect southern Britain (Manley 1975, Eden 1995) and Manley (1975) suggests that the June 1975 snowfall was probably southern Britain’s latest snowfall since the turn of the nineteenth century.

    A little more recently, a sleet shower was reported at Birmingham Airport during the morning of 7th June 1985, whilst in the evening snow fell at Eskdalemuir in southern Scotland (Burt 1985, COL Bulletin 1985). However, it would see, that this does of wintry weather was much more localised than the snowfall of 2nd June 1975.

    Finally, the 20th century’s earliest low level snowfall on the ground in England would appear to be that of 31st October 1934 when 5cms snow fell as far south as Belvoir Castle in Leicestershire whilst 1st November 1942 saw a light covering of snow fall over the Cotswolds (Stirling 1997).

    Brazell, J. H. (1698): London Weather. HMSO, p.249.
    Burt, S.D. (1985): Sleet and snow in June 1985, Weather, 40, 222.
    Climatological Observers Link Bulletin, no.62, June 1975
    Climatological Observers Link Bulletin, no.182, June 1985
    Eden, P. (1995): Weatherwise. MacMilllan, p.323.
    Manley, G. (1975): Snowfalls in June. Weather, 30, 308.
    Markham, L. (1994): The Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Weather Book. Countryside Books, p.128.
    Ogley, B., Currie, I. and Davison M. (1995): The Sussex Weather Book. Froglets Publications, p.176.
    Ogley, B., Davison M. and Currie, I. (1993): The Norfolk and Suffolk Weather Book. Froglets Publications, p.176.
    Pritchard, B. (1997?): Weatherwatch, The Guardian, sometime in 1997 I think.
    Stirling, R. (1997): The Weather of Britain. Giles de la Mare Publications Ltd., p306.
    Zwart, B. (1985): De Weersverwachting voor Vandaag en Morgen. Prisma, p.92.

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