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CET Winter Trends

March 9, 2018

By Paul Homewood


As promised, I have now some detailed analysis of the Central England Temperature Series, specifically winter trends.

As can be seen above, there has been an underlying trend increase since the start of the record in 1660. However, certain things stand out:

1) There have been other winters back in the past which have been just as warm as anything recently.

The warmest winter was actually 1868/9, with 1833/4 in third place behind 2016/7.

2) The 10-year average has been dropping away since it peaked in 2008, and is now  back where it was in the 1970s, and indeed in 1739.

3) There is huge year to year variability throughout the series.

All of this tends to begs the question  – how much of this trend is due to “weather”, as opposed to “climate”?

If we look at daily numbers, we get more clues:




I have shown each month separately and limited the analysis to the period since 1901 for clarity.

Two things become immediately apparent:

1) Throughout the three months, extremely cold days have become much rarer in the last couple of decades. This is despite the exceptionally cold weather in January and December 2010.

2) There is, however, no indication that temperatures are rising at the top of the bands.


We can see the changing pattern in extremely cold days, in the graph below:



Fascinatingly though, we find that the relative absence of cold days is not something new. There was a very similar situation in the 1930s, when there were just 17 days below –2.0C, and this despite the fact that 15 of these occurred in 1940.

The 1920s also saw few such days.

This all points strongly to the likelihood that what we have experienced recently is weather and not climate. It is also a warning that cold winters may not be a thing of the past.


Does any of this matter? I would argue it does, for two reasons:

1) If winters have become milder on average because of a shift in weather patterns, it does not support the assumption that winters will carry on becoming milder.

Indeed the figures suggest that we have already hit the ceiling, and that temperatures won’t go any higher.

2) Weather being weather, we cannot rule out a return to previous climatic regimes.


I have, by the way, looked at trends in min and max temperatures, but they also come up with similar conclusions.

  1. quaesoveritas permalink
    March 9, 2018 2:20 pm

    Unfortunately, there is a tendency in the UK to expect milder winters, as a result of what we have been told to expect from “climate change”, but when colder winters do occur, to also blame that on “climate change”.
    We seem to be less capable of dealing with the odd cold winter, as can be seen from the need to airlift supplies into parts of Cumbria, after they had been “cut off” by a mere 5 days of snow. I don’t live in Cumbria, but if I did. I would make sure that I had supplies to cover a severe winter.

    • March 10, 2018 9:34 am

      I think part of the problem is that we have two generations who have not experienced genuinely extreme weather (contrary to the claims) and as a result are woefully unprepared for severely cold winters or long period of drought with the resulting food, water and power shortages.

      I grew up in the 70’s and had first hand experience of very cold winters, power cuts and water shortages. After living in a house with no power for weeks at a time in very cold weather and living through long hot summers with drought so bad we had to have the army bring in water in tankers I have always been more prepared than most.

      We always have at least a two week supply of tinned food (for a family of 5), two weeks of frozen food and a week of fresh food. We have a dozen maglites with fresh batteries and a couple of hundred candles. Our heating, hot water and cooking is solid fuel (off grid). We hold a min stock of 6 weeks solid fuel. We have a spring fed well in the garden with pump and filtration (can go off grid). We also have a large vegetable garden and can supply upto 50%+ of our annual veg requirements. Finally we have at least one classic Land Rover (4×4) running at any one time and fitted with snow tyres.

      How people laughed at me for doing all this right upto the point we got a winter like 2010 when the village was cut off by deep snow for a week and we had several days without power. We were one of the very few families to be able to carry on life almost as normal with little or no impact while the majority faced extremely uncomfortable conditions.

      Generation snowflake have had it good for so long they have lost the ability to prepare and look after themselves. Too used to the state bailing them out when something goes wrong.

  2. March 9, 2018 2:21 pm

    1962/63 sticks out like a sore thumb, the coldest winter in over 100 years, there being one extremely cold winter every 100 years or so. There are never any warmer winters that stick out like a sore thumb. That’s weather for you.

    • knudgeknudge permalink
      March 9, 2018 5:46 pm

      I certainly remember 62-63 in Kent!

    • March 9, 2018 5:53 pm

      I well remember that year. I commuted 10 miles on ice from Southport to kirby every day. We treated for corrosion 1100 tons of steelwork for the Fourth Road Bridge in atrocious conditions. If I recall all done for £35,000 or thereabouts.
      The grillages and balustrades are all still there on the bridge. Totally rust free.
      I also remember driving from Liverpool to Southampton in the middle of March with snow still piled high up to 10 ft. at the side of some of the roads.
      Those were the days!

      • March 9, 2018 7:28 pm

        I was a school boy living on the edge of the Peak District. Great times, fantastic sights.

    • catweazle666 permalink
      March 13, 2018 7:30 pm

      The end of June 1963 was when I acquired my first motorcycle – a BSA C15 250cc – and riding round the Yorkshire Dales I saw there was still snow residue on the North side of the dry stone walls even into early July.
      I remember that Easter term at public school was particularly character building, bloody freezing in other words!

  3. Bitter@twisted permalink
    March 9, 2018 2:33 pm

    Climate or weather?
    A difficult concept for climate “scientists” to solve.
    Particularly when their continued employment relies on getting the “right” answer.

  4. Chris, Leeds permalink
    March 9, 2018 2:50 pm

    Just ‘eye balling’ the graph and data one of the features appears to be not so much of an increase in milder winters, but more the decrease (with a particularly notable absence in the last 20 years+) of really cold winters. So the variance seems less extreme than traditionally? The closest ‘match’ for today as suggested in the article is like the 1910s,20s… so the absence of the really cold winters may be just a phase and future decades could – like the 1940s – produce a sharp uptick in really cold winters.

    • Bitter@twisted permalink
      March 9, 2018 8:27 pm

      Doesn’t really support the “extreme weather” meme.
      Yet another climate “science” fail.

    • Mike Jackson permalink
      March 9, 2018 9:09 pm

      It bears out my hypothesis (or as I call it “hunch”) that a lot of global warming is simply increased UHI effect, especially in relatively crowded countries like England.

      We now have 24-hour supermarkets, even if they are only for staff shelf-packing, with lighting and heating operating. Ditto TV and radio stations, leisure activities continuing until 2 or 3am, not just in the major cities. Transport, especially goods carriage, continues through the night.

      And other heat generating activities, including ubiquitous central heating even during the hours it might not be running, add to the background warming.

      It’s hardly surprising if we are about a degree or so warmer on average than we were 50+ years ago. It would be surprising if we weren’t! And CO2 has nothing to do with it!

      • jim permalink
        March 10, 2018 4:07 am

        Yes Mike, its slight outbreak of mildness, winter minimums are slightly increasing more than summer maximums are decreasing. Down to UHI, intesive farming and 24/7 societies. Nothing to do with trace gas.

    • dennisambler permalink
      March 10, 2018 12:27 pm

      A long time since I looked so closely at CET but it was clear that it wasn’t getting warmer, just less cold extremes. Alternative facts I suppose! Also Autumn seemed to have a rising trend, perhaps CO2 only works in Autumn.

      I grew up in the 50’s and was riding a scooter up and down to Scotland from the NW in the 60’s, to college. Many a happy hour in the snow on Shap Fell!

  5. March 9, 2018 2:55 pm

    Here’s the CET month by month

  6. Jack Broughton permalink
    March 9, 2018 3:25 pm

    Interesting to consider how climate is defined: IPCC and others use a 30 year mean values for selected parameters. What your calculations show is that the selection of which 30 year period to use could produce very different values. This suggests that 30 years is not an adequate period to define climate: which lines up with the other well known global cycles which mostly exceed 30 years.

    Most “climate scientists” seem to use a timescale from about 1970 onwards as climate.

    • Douglas Brodie permalink
      March 9, 2018 4:32 pm

      Except that the UN IPCC only use a 30-year period when it suits them. They chose to curtail this confirmatory period in the case of the brief warming spell of the 1980s and 90s because the politicians were itching to start their man-made global warming scare.

      • Bitter@twisted permalink
        March 10, 2018 9:30 am

        Not quite. The politicians were itching to start a new tax on us.
        One that had the backing of “morals”.

    • dave permalink
      March 9, 2018 9:12 pm

      “…30 years…”

      Which gives you an estimate for the climate of the CENTRAL year of those 30; it does not give you an estimate “of” the whole period!

      For instance, with the satellite data, we note that it starts at 1979. THEREFORE we can only make “30 year” estimates from it, for 1984 through 2003. For 2004 we can make a “29 year” estimate, for 2005 a “28 year” estimate,…

      Of course, these “estimates by average” might be physically meaningless; but, if you DO try a moving average it must, at the least, be CENTERED.

    • catweazle666 permalink
      March 13, 2018 7:35 pm

      “PCC and others use a 30 year mean values for selected parameters”

      Which, given that there is a clearly visible ~60 year cycle (Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation?) visible in just about any temperature database I’ve ever inspected is a particularly uninspired choice of period IMO.

  7. March 9, 2018 3:43 pm

    Could it be the UK’s warming is just a reduction in frequency of SSW events? They were not known about in olden times.

  8. Douglas Brodie permalink
    March 9, 2018 4:20 pm

    “This all points strongly to the likelihood that what we have experienced recently [say the last 30 years] is weather and not climate.”

    This is a great theme you have started, following up on last week’s “weather, not climate” post:

    The evidence of the publicly available data is obvious even to a layman. The problem is getting the groupthinking climate establishment to take note.

  9. CheshireRed permalink
    March 9, 2018 6:38 pm

    O/T. Really interesting interview with Rupert Darwall. Ok, he’s plugging his new book but so much he speaks of will resonate with regulars here.

  10. John Bills permalink
    March 9, 2018 9:37 pm

    It was a wind change and look at the jump in het arctic oscillationAO.
    The Bilt shows a similar pattern.
    Over the past decades, the altered air circulation has perhaps been the most important factor
    for the increase of the temperature in the Netherlands. A greater supply of soft air especially in the winter (more southwest wind) led to a rapid increase in temperature in the late 1980s.
    Also the cleaning of the air above the Netherlands has ensured that from the 1980s onwards thethe amount of solar radiation has increased by no less than 10% (on average an hour more sun per day). It is plausible that this so-calledbrightening has played a role in global warming. (translated by Google) (dutch)

  11. March 9, 2018 10:13 pm

    Reblogged this on WeatherAction News and commented:
    As Lamb wrote;

    “I have always thought it a misfortune that the general introduction of plumbing into British homes coincided with the quite unusual run of mild winters between 1896 and 1936. And possibly some of the modern glass architecture and the hill-top sites with an open south-west aspect which became so desirable a few years ago seem less to be recommended in the 1950s.

    We would do well to take heed and not foolishly believe what we see today will forever be.

  12. Tom Dowter permalink
    March 9, 2018 11:17 pm

    The main thing that the CET series tells us is that the weather in central England is very variable. But we knew that already!

    As Paul shows, the overall “trend” in winter temperatures is upwards, but this “trend” only accounts for 8.9% of the total variance. Does plotting such a “trend” really make sense? Actually there have been long periods when the trend was down as well as long periods when the trend has been up. The century with the strongest upward trend runs from 1665 to 1764, whereas that with the strongest downward trend runs from 1717 to 1816. Note the overlap!

    The coldest winter in the record was in 1684, whereas the warmest was in 1869.

    Of the 20 coldest winters, the earliest was in 1679 and the latest was in 1963. Of the 20 warmest winters, the earliest was in 1686 and the latest was in 2016.

    Only the “average dates” for the 20 warmest and the 20 coldest winters appears to tell us anything much. These are 1907.5 and 1776.85 respectively.

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      March 10, 2018 10:32 am

      Yes I don’t see a real trend. For a start, max-min are only two data points and don’t tell the whole story, averages tend to produce spurious trends and any changes in say UHI or land use that are not fully accounted for would remove the trend entirely.

  13. M E permalink
    March 10, 2018 1:38 am

    Any interest in this? One of my favourite bookmarks. About the Romantics who flourished in England Germany etc in the 19thC. Looking back on a past which never was.

    • dave permalink
      March 10, 2018 7:55 am

      “…a past which never was…”

      It used to be said in my family that one of our ancestors was an officer at the Battle of Waterloo. Turned out that he was the gardener to a retired officer who…

      The Arctic has refrozen – not that it ever came close to melting:

      So we will not be hearing any more about it – until the next time.

      The ploy of pretending that anything unusual “vindicates the 97%” is proving successful.
      As it must, by the iron laws of sheeple herding.

  14. Robin Guenier permalink
    March 10, 2018 7:29 am

    This recent Chinese paper uses the CET to provide “a new perspective on climate change causality“:

    The first paragraph of the Introduction rather undermines the “settled science” assumption:

    Causality analysis in climate change is an active and challenging research area that remains highly uncertain. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) advocates that human activity is the most important driving force of climate change, while some researchers have argued that natural forces might be the main cause. These different views are mainly due to a lack of methods to address the complexity of climate system and insufficiency in observational climate data.

  15. A C Osborn permalink
    March 10, 2018 11:28 am

    My main take away from the first chart is 1.5C over 350 years.
    ie 0.43C per Century.
    Absolutely nothing to worry about at all.

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