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BBC Climate Check–April 1947

May 3, 2020

By Paul Homewood

The BBC don’t appear to have made their Climate Check video last month, probably because there was no extreme weather to report on.

So I thought I would help them out by offering this Climate Check, but for 1947 instead:




The big story last month was the widespread flooding across England. Hardly any part of the country escaped what are reckoned to be the worst floods there in the last 200 years:

See the source image

The floods were the result of the wettest March on record by far in England

To make matters worse, this followed one of the snowiest and coldest winters on record:


See the source image 

Scientists say extreme weather like this is occurs as a result of a cooling Arctic, which produces a strengthened thermal gradient, in turn increasing storm frequency and severity.

And it is not just England which is suffering. America is also seeing its share of extreme weather.

On April 5th, Flint, Michigan was hit by its worse floods since 1904, as a result of heavy storms and frozen soil.

See the source image

Flint, Michigan – April 1947


Four days later, the deadliest tornado ever to strike Oklahoma hit Woodward City, claiming at least 116 lives.

The extremely rare F5 tornado was just a part of one of the deadliest tornado outbreaks in U.S. history, and had already wiped out two towns in Texas, Glazier and Higgins.

Scientists say that cold polar air makes tornadoes more powerful.


Photo damage produced in Woodward by the April 9, 1947 Tornado

Woodward, Oklahoma



Climate scientists are beginning to worry that global cooling seen in the last few years could be a sign of a longer trend, and get much worse in the next few decades. This would lead to much more extreme weather, as well as impacting world food production.

The benign warming climate we have enjoyed since the turn of the century may be at an end!

  1. JimW permalink
    May 3, 2020 1:11 pm


  2. ray sanders permalink
    May 3, 2020 1:22 pm

    Reading this reminds me of stories my late father used to tell about 1947. Having been an army volunteer he had not yet been “demobbed”. In the late winter he was leading crews of miners to pick-axe coal out of railway wagons where it was frozen solid in ice. Then he went on to ferrying food supplies through the snow drifts using military half tracks. Within days that changed to delivering supplies by boat down flooded main streets.. The good news was the summer that followed was excellent as was the cricket with Dennis Compton and Bill Edrich.

    • Mike Jackson permalink
      May 3, 2020 1:34 pm

      I remember the winter of 1947 in rural Northumberland. Our village was on a main road but we were still cut off for the best part of a week because the snow ploughs couldn’t make headway. The snow was at least as bad as in Paul’s photograph.

      It is the worst winter I have experienced. Arguably 1962-63 was worse but the technology had improved to the point where at least the main roads could be kept clear. Interesting that — regardless of CO2 levels and climate considerations — these harsh winters seem to come on a fairly regular cycle about once every 16 years or so.

      • David Ashton permalink
        May 3, 2020 1:51 pm

        Mike I don’t think there was as much snow in 1962-63, at least not in the North West of England, but it was bitterly cold for almost 3 months.

        I was born in March 1947 and was due to be delivered in the local Maternity Hospital. But due to severe complications my mother, whilst in labour, had to be transported to the General Hospital 7 miles away. The ambulance had great trouble getting through due to the deep snow. My mum, and I, nearly died. Happily she lived until she was 88, and I’m still here to retell the tale. And this was all before the NHS.

      • Ray Sanders permalink
        May 4, 2020 4:51 am

        The notion of a 16 year cycle of harsh winters is quite interesting. Obviously 1947 followed by 1962/63 comes to mind (I was 8 for the latter one living in Hull and have vivid memories of frozen water tanks in our loft) but the cycle certainly seems to continue. 1978/9 was an atrocious winter as was 1995/6 and then of course 2010. Is it perhaps more than just coincidence?
        As an aside in December 2010 UK electricity demand hit an all time record of 61.5GW (in France it went over 100GW) – imagine trying to supply that now with our knackered system! We’ll likely be buggered come 2026

  3. Broadlands permalink
    May 3, 2020 1:23 pm

    March 1938…

    Reading through Charles Lindbergh’s Wartime Journals, 1970, pages 11-12, he wrote this just outside London on Sunday April 3rd, 1938, 82 years ago… “Wonderful weather since we landed last month. Was beginning to become enthusiastic about the weather in England until Anne read in the morning’s Observer that it was the warmest March for 150 years.”

  4. John Palmer permalink
    May 3, 2020 1:23 pm

    Well done, Paul… you just couldn’t make it up, could you?
    Oh… I see that you didn’t have to!
    But don’t forget that 1947 is way beyond their records range for ‘worst evvah’ etc., it’s almost pre-history.

  5. May 3, 2020 1:52 pm


  6. Edward Spalton permalink
    May 3, 2020 1:56 pm

    My one certain recollection of 1947 is feeling distinctly disappointed because my father had taken my big sister sledging in a local park and left me behind because I was too little (4). We lived in the house next to our mill which didn’t have a garden but a rather grim back yard with some flower borders and tarmac paths. To try to make things up, he dragged me round the snow covered path a few times on the sledge – but it didn’t make up for being left behind!
    He had come back in a bad temper because the sledge had gone into an icy puddle which had gone up his trouser leg – so it was actually pretty decent that he had bothered about me at all – in the order of things in those days.

  7. May 3, 2020 2:02 pm

    I can remember walking down my street in Newcastle on Tyne that winter, and the banks of snow piled up on the roadside were above my 8 year old head. Never happened again to my intense dissapointment; all we ever got wash slush

  8. Broadlands permalink
    May 3, 2020 2:36 pm

    For whatever it might be worth, a piece of trivia? According to NOAA, in the US, the maximum March temperature was in 1910. And the coldest March was two years later, 1912. Hottest to coldest in two years. Amazing what a little CO2 can do?

  9. Thomas Carr permalink
    May 3, 2020 3:09 pm

    Good crop od comments, Paul .For what it is worth the first picture is of the Thames at Weybridge.

  10. Mad Mike permalink
    May 3, 2020 3:19 pm

    My wife was born in December 1947 and there are anecdotal stories in her family about her father having to cross fields knee deep in snow to get to the hospital to see her and her mother. It all tallies with this article. Many people alive then still remember it as being the worst they could remember. Many say 1946 wasn’t much better. I was born in1946 so don’t remember that period but I do remember what must have been 1961 or 1962. I lived in central London then which presumably was warmer generally than the rest of the country as it is now. I remember a long period of the winter when the snow kept being piled up at the side of the roads and most side roads were effectively single track. The snow turned to ice and the piles were there for weeks and weeks. It never seemed to end. I can’t remember that much snow but it was so cold that overnight the condensation in my bedroom, presumably caused by my breathing, turned to ice on the inside of the windows, and this was central London. Goodness knows what it was like in the country. Boy, am I glad that we don’t get those winters now. Youngsters find my recollections hard to believe.

    Although CO2 levels were not as high then as they are now They must have been higher than before the magic time before the industrial revolution so what happened to the theory there then.

    • MrGrimNasty permalink
      May 3, 2020 4:07 pm

      The bulk of the increase has been since 1950. It would have been about 310ppm in 1947, so about 100ppm less than today.

    • Jonathan Scott permalink
      May 3, 2020 5:06 pm

      Yes but this is magic unicorn CO2 we are releasing, yes the magic 3% of the annual flux. Of course because we are releasing it not the rest of nature, It can turn on and off it’s effect by words alone!. Not to be confused with the other 97% of the annual flux which is released by nature which is benign and wonderful ( which CO2 really is).

      • MrGrimNasty permalink
        May 3, 2020 7:20 pm

        I was very careful not to say why!

        And IMO if CO2 were ‘powerful’, a third increase in 50 years would have created a very noticeable deflection in the long term tide gauge data – the only remotely reliable long term global data we have – clearly it hasn’t.

        It really is as simple as that.

    • Andrew Dickens permalink
      May 3, 2020 9:46 pm

      I was born in Jan 1947, my parents said it was really difficult keeping the house warm. But the following summer was wonderful, apparently. 1962-63 – there was a heavy snowfall in early January and the snow just hung about for about 3 months, it never went above freezing in that time. This was in Essex, normally one of the mildest parts of England.

      • May 3, 2020 10:04 pm

        We still rode our bikes to school most days in the winter of 1962/63 in Southend, in between falling off!

      • David Ashton permalink
        May 4, 2020 12:32 pm

        Absolutely Paul, we never missed a day of school that winter.

  11. Chilli permalink
    May 3, 2020 4:11 pm

    Nicely done. I like the parody scaremongering towards the end. Exactly the way BBC talk about our (unremarkable) modern weather. It must really piss them off that smart bloggers like Paul are onto their game – but they have such a low opinion of the general public’s intelligence no doubt they will continue their propaganda.

  12. May 3, 2020 4:43 pm

    ‘Scientists say extreme weather like this is occurs as a result of a cooling Arctic’.

    Who was pulling their strings in those days, before the IPCC came along?

  13. It doesn't add up... permalink
    May 3, 2020 5:20 pm

    Here’s the view of the first photo in google today:

    Flood plains built on?

  14. May 3, 2020 5:39 pm

    I remember the winter of 1947 well. The trouble with the BBC and the alarmists is they are too young and don’t bother checking back. Says something about the age of your readers that so many of us do remember that and the last war and don’t get hysterical so easily.

    • May 3, 2020 10:06 pm

      ” Says something about the age of your readers that so many of us do remember that and the last war…” you can count me in too, Brenda!

      I remember the snow in London in 1947 turning black on the roadsides, it was there so long. But I would posit that 1962/3 was even worse. We moved from London to Romney Marsh in Kent just before Christmas and our main furniture didn’t arrive until the end of January because the removal lorries couldn’t get through the snow. Helicopters were dropping food supplies to villages cut off. My brother and I were sliding around on the ice on the floor (from burst pipes/tank) in the London house we were moving from, collecting up the smaller items on our last trip of several.

    • Bertie permalink
      May 5, 2020 11:07 am

      We didn’t collapse the economy for a bit of flu either!

  15. Ben Vorlich permalink
    May 3, 2020 6:03 pm

    From BBC

    Coronavirus: Scottish snowsports miss ‘one of best springs in years’

    Jamie Riley, from Winterhighland Ltd, said: “The last day the lifts operated at Glencoe a snow depth of over 6m (20ft) was measured in the Main Basin.

    By best they mean plenty of snow and sunshine.

  16. grammarschoolman permalink
    May 3, 2020 6:25 pm

    On the basis of this, I predict that the world will end and we will all die in 1970.

  17. MrGrimNasty permalink
    May 3, 2020 7:29 pm

    CountryFile weather forecaster again emphasized all the record Aprils in recent years.

    If he had been stood there in May 1949, he would have been saying the same thing.

    And only 2 of those Aprils in recent years were warmer than 1943.

  18. Coeur de Lion permalink
    May 3, 2020 9:06 pm

    My dad was commanding an armoured brigade defending Trieste and Venezia Guilia against Tito ‘ s ambition. We visited Venice in 1947 and stayed at the Danieli which was run by a Sergeant with a clipboard. St Marks Square was flooded deeply by climate change.

  19. C Lynch permalink
    May 3, 2020 10:29 pm

    I was born in 1966 and the coldest winter I remember here in Limerick in the mid West of Ireland was 2009 – 2010. There wasn’t a huge amount of snow but it was bitterly cold from late November to the end of March – so cold that our local river, the Mulkear froze over at one stage. It froze again the following winter which was just as cold but not as prolonged.

    • MrGrimNasty permalink
      May 3, 2020 11:06 pm

      I’m a similar vintage.

      The coldest winter overall for me was probably in the mid eighties (85/86) on the South Coast of England. I used to keep weather records.

      Coldest max. one day was below -5C, we got into the -12C to -18C range numerous times (product of snow on ground then dry air and clear skies). There were several very cold periods and at one point the temperature didn’t get above freezing for nearly 2 weeks.

      February 1986 was the 5th coldest on record in the 360 year CET, the coldest individual month I’ve lived through – 1947 was the coldest Feb on record.

      There were 2 other unusually chilly winters in the 80s but nothing like 85/86.

      Other individual notably cold months in my lifetime:-
      December 2010 (2nd coldest on record)
      January 1979 (17th, for those alive 1963 was 5th)
      March 2013 (12th).

  20. tom0mason permalink
    May 4, 2020 1:39 am

    Gavin Partridge has a good analysis of the 1947 winter weather at

    He also has many other historic weather reports at

    He shows how strange the weather event in Britain has been over the years!

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