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Met Office Does Not Know What “Extreme Weather” Is.

March 9, 2020

By Paul Homewood


According to the Met Office, 2019 was a year of weather extremes in the UK. There is actually very little evidence to back this claim up, but this does not stop them ludicrously claiming one mild day in February as “extreme”!

To most people, extreme weather would be the sort of stuff our ancestors experienced in this very week in 1891:



Plymouth, Devonport and Storehouse saw sporadic snowfall in the late morning of Monday the 9th along with a rising wind. By six in the evening, in the three towns some four or five inches of snow lay upon the ground, and the wind had increased to a hurricane. Slates began to start from the roofs of houses, and chimneys to fall, and in a very short time the streets assumed a deserted appearance, and all vehicular traffic was stopped. Advertisement hoardings were hurled from their positions with some terrible crashes.

Tuesday was "an indescribably wretched day," while Thursday saw more snow and squalls. In Bristol, in the early hours of the storm, tramway cars were unable to function and had to be withdrawn from service. On at least one line an attempt was made to keep it functioning using five horses instead of the usual two. Even with the additional pulling power, the results were unsatisfactory. At Tiverton, the weather on market day was so severe that the event was suspended for the first time in its history.

On the 10th of the month, The Times published a report from a correspondent in Dover: One of the most awful nights ever known here is being experienced in the Channel tonight. The gale of this afternoon has increased into a hurricane, accompanied by a blizzard. The sea in the harbour is so rough that the waves are washing over the quays, and great excitement prevails, the greatest difficulty being experienced in holding the vessels to their moorings. But the Met remained phlegmatic. Their forecast for the 10th, issued at 8:30 pm on the previous day, merely suggested that in the South-west and in South Wales there would be "wind backing northwards and moderating; very cold, some snow."

Despite the forecast from the Met, on Monday the 9th, the South of England was devastated by a storm of such magnitude as had not been witnessed in living memory. The storm continued unabated for days. According to the National Maritime Museum in Cornwall, Devon and Cornwall were practically isolated by the storm in which 200 people died. Trees were uprooted, trains were snowbound and snow piled in drifts up to 15 feet high. One train was only discovered after 36 hours when a farmer looking for lost sheep was hailed by the passengers. All that time it had been only 250 yards from the farmhouse!.

The train line between Newton Abbott and Plymouth was completely blocked, but the full extent of the situation was unknown since telegraph lines had come down as a result of the storm. Between Bridestow and Okehampton a passenger train with more than 100 on board was snowed in for twenty hours.

Travellers were completely unprepared for the problems they faced. And without heat and food, often for several days, it was a miracle that no train passengers died. The Illustrated London News, commented that “no such privations have ever been experienced in railway travel in this country within living memory.”

If those on trains were inconvenienced and uncomfortable those aboard ships were faced with fearful conditions. All along the Channel and beyond, ships were blown aground. Perhaps the most dramatic was the wreck of the Bay of Panama making for Dundee with a load of Jute taken on at Calcutta. She was 111 days out when she was driven onto the rocks at Penare Point about 25 miles south of Falmouth. A four masted steel ship, she was eight years old and a beautiful vessel, but in the worst storm to hit the Southwest in well over a century, she proved no match for the weather. The captain, DavidWright, of Liverpool, his wife, all but one of the six officers, four apprentices, and six of the crew, were either frozen to death in the rigging or drowned.This made a loss of eighteen lives out of a company of about forty all told. While it was the most dramatic wreck of the storm, it was only one of many.

From Falmouth the news was telegraphed to The Times of a number of other wrecks. A steamer went ashore at Portloe with the loss of one life. Nearby, a German steamer was driven ashore. Even those ships that managed to survive the storm often did so with loss of life and extensive damage.

The survivors, numbering seven, of the steamer Neptune, of Newcastle, on being landed at Weymouth … reported the loss of their captain and first mate … washed overboard. … The steamer left Guernsey on Monday, and, after being at sea a few hours, met the full force of the blizzard in the English Channel. Sea after sea swept her decks, partially dismantling her. The fires were extinguished, and, when the vessel was on the point of foundering, the steamer Headworth fell in with her, and towed her to Portland.

Other crews were luckier and despite considerable risk and difficulties managed to survive the storm. The schooner Alice Brookall, with a cargo of coals from Swansea to Jersey ran aground; the crew of five dropped from the bowsprit to the rocks where they passed the night "exposed to the fury of the storm." In the morning the climbed the cliffs and reached a farmhouse where they were able to shelter.

Although the brunt of the storm was felt in the south of England, London did not escape lightly. There was a great deal of damage to houses; so much so that The Times reported In the south-east and south-west districts of London employment in abundance for slaters, carpenters, glaziers, and gardeners, and even brick-layers, will be one result of the storm. Roofs have been partially stripped of slates and tiles, the framework and glass of conservatories injured beyond repair, and flower-beds and shrubberies destroyed, even gate-pillars being dismantled and small boundary brick walls thrown down. Some fine trees in Dulwich have been uprooted, and in Brixton the windows in some private houses have been blown in. Among the greatest risks for those on land as well as those on sea was that of fire. The cold weather meant that many households had recourse to the fireplace for heat, but the high winds placed chimneys at risk and even when the chimney survived, the wind blew smoke and snow back down into the fireplace.

Despite the terrible effects of the storm, Mr Punch could not resist a poke at the traditional afternoon "At Home," suggesting that even that had been suspended due to the weather!.

In all, the week beginning March 9th was a memorable one. The storm which lasted for several days finally departed, almost at its leisure leaving a trail of death and destruction in its wake. For many, particularly those living in the Southwest of England, it would be the worst storm in their lifetime. In the ferocious blizzard, more than 200 people and 6,000 animals died. Twenty-eight ships were sunk and the cost to shipping, businesses and individuals was incalculable. 

In those days of course, nobody talked of “extreme weather”, it was simply a bit of bad weather, which everybody accepted was perfectly commonplace, and they simply got on with life.

  1. buchanlad permalink
    March 9, 2020 10:59 am

    1953 The Great Storm in Scotland that destroyed an astonishing number of trees and countless buildings were damaged …..

    • David Parker permalink
      March 9, 2020 11:38 am

      Ah! but did it destroy more than 13.9 million trees that were felled to erect the wind farms and infrastructure.

      • MrGrimNasty permalink
        March 9, 2020 1:55 pm

        The estimate for the 1987 ‘Hurricane’ is about 15 million trees, few people alive at the time can forget the deep shock at the sight of that devastation and the deep upset.

        And yet far more trees than that have been felled for windmills and Solar UK wide, quietly, unnoticed, insidiously.

        Of course nature repairs the natural damage soon enough, but not where the land surface has been stolen for inefficient energy harvesting.

        And then there is the knock on effect, panicky campaigns to plant trees – most of which will die untended within the first 3 years, and may result in other valuable habitat and precious species – heath, moor, grassland, meadow, scrub etc. – being destroyed.

    • Saighdear permalink
      March 10, 2020 1:22 pm

      … and the Storm of around February 1979. Trains “lost! on the North Line, Sheep, even on the Black Isle, died in Snow drifts ….. and no doubt elsewhere in the N of Scotland.
      THe Snows of MARCH 1965 large drifts and rural communities temporarily cut off ….. We had hard frosts then so late on despite a Mild February. Hard Frosts came back in early MAY with damage to machines on the Hills around Grantown on Spey ( P&J at the time)
      and then we had a great HOT summer.

  2. Thomas Carr permalink
    March 9, 2020 11:40 am

    How about setting up a MetScience web site which makes a point of countering the exaggerations of the MetOffice with the facts soon after the MetOffice issue their sensationalist press releases?
    If you recall the Met Office is planning to install another state-of-the-art computer and is vulnerable to criticism about needless extravagance — bearing in mind the track record of recent years achieved with the help of the outgoing most advanced computer of the time.
    A great bit of history from Paul Townsend above. Much appreciated.

  3. Ian Magness permalink
    March 9, 2020 11:41 am

    The Met Office has no shame. As they very well know, the two “extremes of heat” quoted are both clearly readings from sites heavily affected by UHI. The readings, whilst notable, have thus no scientific validity and shouldn’t by written about in the context of describing the affects of a supposedly changing climate – as is so clearly implied here.
    What hope have the public got of understanding the real facts when such a high profile public body can be so openly deceitful?

    • dennisambler permalink
      March 9, 2020 2:29 pm

      They have to maintain the narrative. They are not going to turn around after all this time and say “sorry, nothing happening here, move on”. Careers and pensions have been built on AGW.

      From 2007: “The Climate Prediction Programme was not an academic research programme; its work plan and deliverables was driven by Defra’s requirements for science to inform UK government policy on climate change mitigation and adaptation. As the policy requirements changed, so did the research programme objectives.

      The Met Office will focus on research that contributes to UK government policy objectives and will communicate the results to government and the public.”

      You can see how much money was spent on fancy projects here:

  4. March 9, 2020 11:48 am

    When your research question is not “whether” but “just how bad fossil fuels are” then all bad things look like climate impacts with the hand of agw climate change easy to see such that they clearly imply an urgent need to cut emissions.

  5. Harry Passfield permalink
    March 9, 2020 11:56 am

    “The most notable climate features of the year…”?

    We know they mean ‘weather’ – but we also know they need to keep the word ‘clmate’ out there. They just can’t help themselves.

  6. Up2snuff permalink
    March 9, 2020 12:01 pm

    Has the Met Office become ‘snowflakes’?

  7. Bloke down the pub permalink
    March 9, 2020 1:29 pm

    Gosh, if the weather was a ‘tad inclement’, it must’ve been bad.

  8. GeoffB permalink
    March 9, 2020 1:30 pm

    The met office is really guilty of alarmism, when you are measuring a parameter and you get a reading a bit higher or lower than would be expected its called an outlier. The correct approach is to look for an explanation. Did the temperature measurements in the vicinity also show high or low temperatures? Is the location unchanged from years previous? As the answer for the Cambridge hottest ever is NO, then the reading should have been ignored.

    • MrGrimNasty permalink
      March 9, 2020 2:27 pm

      Undoubtedly unreliable, but there were very high temperatures nearby – it was certainly about as hot as it can get in the UK.

      But there is a very normal random weather explanation.

      In summer 2019, looking at Europe, the EU wide heat record was not broken. But there is a very clear pattern in where the national records fell – they were all central Europe. The records in Eastern Europe/Iberia (including Europe’s highest ever temperatures) were not troubled.

      In summer it is not unusual for plumes of heat to emerge from N.Africa and cause European heatwaves. In 2019, the most intense part of the plume happened to pass through the center of Europe – in the past, by chance, it has usually gone more E. or W.

      As the years go by, the more urbanization you have in Europe, the less the heat will be attenuated, the more it will be reinforced by UHI, before it reaches the UK. And by coming through the center of Europe, there was probably less Atlantic or North Sea maritime cooling before the plume reached the UK too.

  9. Phoenix44 permalink
    March 9, 2020 2:26 pm

    And we know exactly why the record high was reached, as hot air was drawn up over the UK from North Africa.It wasn’t “climate” in any way, it was a strictly limited and well-defined weather event. It wasn’t a typical Cambridge summer day that was inexplicably hotter.

    And “notable spells of cold weather” is a sign of extreme weather? There weren’t really notable, let alone extreme.

    It really is just propaganda.

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      March 9, 2020 4:52 pm

      And the plumes were very distinct – I drove from near Bergerac at some crazy temperature to Bordeaux a bit over 100km away, and the temperature dropped by twenty degrees Fahrenheit.

      And it was just hot air – nowhere was cool, even areas that had not been in the sun.

  10. March 9, 2020 3:14 pm

    The Met needs the hyperbole. Without it they would never get the funding they desire. As for truth, well, that’s not very important is it?

  11. March 9, 2020 3:52 pm

    The Irish have recently raised questions about UK precipitation data, casting doubt on Met Office claims of recent records, here is part of a recent Email I got from them on this issue:

    “I would be careful with using EWP to examine the early part of the record for the reasons we highlight in this paper

    Similar issues are likely present in the early Irish and scottish data, but more difficult to attribute, as we outline in this paper

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      March 9, 2020 4:48 pm

      Wow! I don’t remember that paper getting much discussion on the BBC!

      So no trend in the UK according to the Royal Meteorological Society.

  12. David permalink
    March 10, 2020 12:52 am

    Rather off topic but am I the only one to see Sophie Barnes’ piece in today’s Telegraph? Apparently scientists are warning that we need to prevent global warming rising more than 34.7 deg Fahrenheit above pre-industrial levels – And we pay £2.50 a day for this paper!
    On reflection, perhaps they really do think this is possible.

    • Nancy & John Hultquist permalink
      March 10, 2020 3:09 am

      Math is hard.

      • March 10, 2020 11:47 am

        You mean when MSNBC’s serial liar, Brian Williams recently engaged in onair math? He agreed with a tweet stating that with his $500 million spent on ads, Michael Bloomberg could have given each of the United States’ 327 million citizens a million dollars. Then a wizard from the New York Times editorial board added: “It’s an incredible way of putting it. It’s true, It’s disturbing.”

        What is “disturbing” is that these 2, plus the original tweeter, are products of the US “education” system.

    • Mad Mike permalink
      March 10, 2020 9:52 am

      David, if this is the article you are referring to I can’t see any mention of the figure you quoted.

      • Malcolm Skipper permalink
        March 10, 2020 2:06 pm

        The hard copy edition p10 reads:

        Limiting global warming to 1.5C (34.7F) above pre-industrial levels, which scientists warn is needed to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, looks extremely difficult, THE ANALYSIS FOUND.

        On-line copy omits (34.7F) and finishes “Ember said.”

    • GeoffB permalink
      March 10, 2020 4:00 pm

      I just cancelled my subscription…..they are publishing articles by the heads of charities and quangos, pushing their own agenda, with no chance to comment or even worse all the comments are deleted because they are so critical ( mine were ) of the views expressed.
      Getting more like the Guardian….where my comments are often removed by the moderator (censor) but I do not pay anything. The term “green loonies” ensures removal I have noted.

  13. Mad Mike permalink
    March 10, 2020 9:43 am

    Off topic again but here’s another Government funded report telling HMG that it would be nigh on impossible to get to carbon neutral by 2050 without drastic implementation of measures starting now. Don’t hold your breath although Greta might want to until she goes blue, stamping her feet as she does so.

  14. March 10, 2020 10:09 am
    These pictures show how much snow fell on Wales in the early January of 1982, when it snowed solidly for 36 hours, leaving entire front doors submerged, cars buried and livestock decimated. The snow was 60cm deep, though drifts reportedly reached up to six metres high thanks to the dry, fine snow which was easily blown about.

    This is a winter that I remember
    You might notice that in the report the word extreme does not appear once.
    As the snow prevented using the car. I walked the five miles from Bryncethin to Bridgend
    through two foot or more of snow.
    to open the electrical wholesalers I worked for. No customers turned up and at the end of the day I locked up and walked the five miles home.
    I guess kind of stupid but at least I was no snowflake.

  15. David permalink
    March 10, 2020 10:26 am

    Mad Mike. You are right. I obviously had an earlier edition and it was later edited out. Someone had taken 1.5 deg C and looked up its equivalent in F. and got 34.7. Still makes you realise that true numbers mean little to warmists and math deniers.

  16. March 10, 2020 10:31 am

    Thanks, Paul, for another great article to remind us what idiots our leaders and “experts” are.

    Mike Turner


  17. March 10, 2020 4:29 pm

    Market Harborough – met office forecasts no rain – it is pouring down. Netweather forecast 100% chance of rain and are correct. Met Office getting more and more clueless. They do not even know it is raining now never mind tomorrow, next week or in a 100 years.

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