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The severe winter of 1890-91


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#1 Weather-history

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Posted 13 November 2006 - 09:18

The winter of 1890-91 had an exceptional cold spell that was to last from the 25th of November 1890 to the 22nd of January 1891.
Up to the 25th of November, the weather had been mild and unsettled across the UK but the weather changed when a Scandinavian high became established on the 25th that was more or less to dominate the weather for the next 58 days.
The easterlies brought very low temperatures and snowfalls with parts of Kent and Surrey recording minima down to -17.8C and Jersey -8.8C, whilst snow depths were reaching 8 to 10" in parts of Lincolnshire.

http://www.wetterzen...slp18901126.gif

December was exceptionally cold. There was little sunshine because of persistent cloud or freezing fog with parts of London recording no sunshine at all during the month.
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Lakes, rivers and canals froze to depths of several inches, the Thames was frozen for over a mile near Twickenham whilst the Dee near Chester was frozen for 5 and a half miles.
High pressure acted as a block to the east as Atlantic systems tried to break the block bringing
heavy snowfalls especially to the West Country

http://www.wetterzen...slp18901219.gif


The number of ice days were high, Reading recorded 36 with a continous spell of 11 days. On the 14th of December it recorded a maximum of -6C

http://www.wetterzen...slp18901228.gif

Into the start of January and the block remain stubbornly in place and it remained cold

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The Atlantic finally made inroads on the 20th but the real break in the cold spell came on
the 23rd of January when milder Atlantic air finally over came the block. The thaw resulted in severe flooding.

http://www.wetterzen...slp18910123.gif

After the severe wintry weather of December and January, February 1891 was mostly benign with high pressure dominating the weather and frequent fogs.
At the end of the month it became very mild during the day with a southerly flow across the UK, Cambridge recorded a maximum of 18.9C on the 27th. It was the driest February on record.

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March started mild but on the 6th, a depression moved into Norway dragging down colder air across the UK. High pressure was intensifying in the Atlantic and the winds turned into the NE bringing even colder air. On the 9th, a depression moved into the Brest area of France and this engaged the colder air over the UK. Dry powdery snow fell across many parts of the West Country and this spread across other southern counties of England. On the 10th, the depression deepened and a severe easterly gale blew in the Channel and there was continous heavy snow and blizzards across southern counties of England. As the first Channel depression moved away, another one entered the Brest region and the snow and gales returned to the West Country again but this system moved into France rather than along the Channel and counties bordering the eastern part of the Channel missed the blizzards this time. By this stage, Cornwall and Devon were virtually cut off by enormous drifts and deep snow cover. It was estimated that Dartmoor had between 1 to 1 and a half metres of snow and snow depths of 15cm+ was reported south west of a line from Kent to Gwynedd.

http://www.wetterzen...slp18910310.gif

The Tavy Cleave on the edge of Dartmoor which is 500 feet deep was completely filled with drifted snow.
By the 14th, milder air arrived and there was a general thaw with some flooding.

http://www.wetterzen...slp18910315.gif


But winter wasn't over yet........

By the beginning of May 1891, it looked as though people could forget the wintry weather of the previous months as the weather had turned warmer at the start of May.
By the 11th, a Scandinavian High was back but this brought very warm air from the near continent and temperatures soared in the sunshine, Loughborough recording a maximum of 27.2C on the 12th.

http://www.wetterzen...slp18910512.gif

The weather changed dramatically as the Scandinavian high declined rapidly and was replaced by a low on the 16th. The effect was to pull down cold northerly winds across the UK, so by the 17th,
hail and snow showers were falling across many parts. This happened to be the Whit holidays and it was a cold and wintry one with a number of places on the morning of Whit Monday reporting a covering of snow, in parts of Norfolk, depths were approaching 18cm.
Temperatures were low for the time of the year with frosts at night and maxima of just between 6-8C. Marble sized hail fell across parts of the West Country during this spell.

http://www.wetterzen...slp18910517.gif


By the 20th, the temperatures were slowly returning to normal and the winter of 1890-91 had taken it's last bite of the cherry.



Data for winter 1890-91

December 1890: -0.8 (-4.9)
January 1891: 1.3 (-2.4)
February 1891: 3.9 (-0.3)

December 1890 is the coldest on record
February 1891 is the driest month ever recorded with 3.6mm

The period 26th November 1890 - 19th January 1891: -1.0

Coldest spells of the winter

26th-30th November: -1.5

http://www.wetterzen...slp18901128.gif

9th-26th December: -2.1

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28th December 2nd January: -1.3

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5th-11th January: -2.0

http://www.wetterzen...slp18910110.gif

9th-13th March: 0

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Coldest maximum CET day: -1.7C 14th December

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Coldest minimum CET night: -12.6C 22nd December

http://www.wetterzen...slp18901222.gif

Mildest maximum CET day: 14.0C 27th February

http://www.wetterzen...slp18910227.gif
Manchester Winter Index 2013-14: 7

#2 Weather-history

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Posted 13 November 2006 - 11:47

The Great Blizzard of March 1891 claimed 220 lives, one of the worst weather related disasters on record

Can't find any photos of the blizzard on the web though

Edited by Mr_Data, 13 November 2006 - 12:06 .

Manchester Winter Index 2013-14: 7

#3 Weather-history

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Posted 13 December 2007 - 09:40

From the 20th December 1890 edition of the Times covering the heaviest snowfall of that severe December

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Manchester Winter Index 2013-14: 7

#4 johnholmes

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Posted 13 December 2007 - 11:48

not yet had chance to read yet another interesting and wintry accout Kevin, one for the afternoon cuppa methinks.
thanks

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#5 Weather-history

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Posted 13 December 2007 - 14:41

Here's the wetterzentrale chart for that day of large snowfalls

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Manchester Winter Index 2013-14: 7

#6 Coast

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Posted 13 December 2007 - 15:36

Can't find any photos of the blizzard on the web though

Indeed only one or two odd ones out there Mr D, much of the information seems to be about the March falls in the South West:

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A train to nowhere: In 1891 the Princetown (Dartmoor) train was caught in a snow storm on the moor. The passengers were trapped for 36 hours. The train was stuck fast for more than two weeks.

1891: (March):
1. 9-13th March 1891, easterly BLIZZARD**. Heavy, fine powdery SNOW and STRONG EASTERLY WINDS raged across SW England, southern England and Wales, with over half a million trees being blown down, as well as a number of telegraph poles. On the 9th (and later?), GREAT SNOWSTORM in the west of England, trains buried for days: E-NE GALE, shipwrecks, many lives lost. (Eden notes: 220 people dead; 65 ships foundered in the English Channel; 6000 sheep perished; countless trees uprooted; 14 trains stranded in Devon alone.) Although the West Country was the worst affected, southern England, the Midlands, and south Wales also suffered. SNOWDRIFTS were 'huge' around some houses in the London - would be accounted a most remarkable sight nowadays! A man was reported found dead at Dorking, Surrey, while SNOWDRIFTS of 3.5 metres were recorded at Dulwich, London and Dartmouth, Devon. At Torquay and Sidmouth, Devon over 30 cm of snow fell.

Source: WIRKSWORTH Parish Records

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Over 30 coastal sailing vessels in the inner harbour, Falmouth, sheltering after the 'Great Blizzard' of 1891


Suddenly, on Monday, March 11, a terrific gale swooped down upon this part of Devon, laden to repletion with snow. All railway traffic was stopped, telegraphic communication ceased, the wires everywhere in this district were prostrated. A train at Meldon, south of Okehampton, on the L. & S.W.R., and another at South Brent, on the G.W.R. were snowed up. The force of the wind was terrible. It was a wild tornado-blast that carried everything with it. Houses were unroofed, trees, the growth of ages, were uprooted and made the sport of the wind. Snow-drifts From 15 feet to 20 feet deep choked the highways and lanes. The old road to Lew Down was filled with snow to the tops of the hedges, the coombe between Sourton Tor and Lake Down was completely choked with snow. Between Brentor View House on Lew Down and the stable, the snow was massed so that those in the dwelling for a day were employed in cutting through the drift so as to rech the coals that were stored there. At Lifton, as well as other places, parties were formed to carry food to outlying cottages, wehre the inhabitants were snowed in. The wind was was from the north-east. For three or four days all main communications were stopped, no letters went out or arrivd, and every village had to depend, in many cases every house, on its own resources. The passengers snowed up in the train at Meldon could not be rescued till the next day, and were found drowsy and stupefied by the cold. Some had not moved or spoken for eighteen hours, and were so torpid that they were unconscious that they were in the hands of helpers to life and activity. The wreckage of trees was prodigious. At Cotehele all the magnificent oaks were prostrated. Great havoc was wrought in the plantations made by my grandfather the year before his death, on the eastern range of the Lime Quarry Ramps. The great cedar west of the ball-room would have been completely broken down under the weigh to of snow lodged on the branches, had not men with poles been employed repeatedly to relieve it.

The Tavistock Gazette was issued on the Friday printed on crimson paper, such as is used generally for advertising placards, as the supply of white paper had run short, and none could be procured from Plymouth or Exeter, on account of the cessation of traffic.

The Rev. Dr Bryant had been at Lamerton when the storm came on. Nothing daunted, he set off to walk to Brentor vicarage, but on reaching Heathfield he found the roads blocked with snow in which he sank to his waist. He was constrained to proceed on the tops of the hedges, till, reaching a cottage at the junction of several roads, he was so exhausted that he had to beg to be taken in for the night, and he slept on a chair before the fire.


SABINE BARING-GOULD. FURTHER REMINISCENCES (1925). The blizzard of 1891, pages 243-5

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East Street, Crediton 1891 www.heardfamilyhistory.org.uk

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#7 Coast

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Posted 13 December 2007 - 16:22

And after a bit of delving, a few more:

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Frozen River Trent, West Butterwick taken in the winter of 1890-1.

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Longhurst's Amber Ale Brewery at Preston Circus, Brighton 1890

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Broadwell (Wiltshire) in the snow, 1891

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#8 Magpie

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Posted 13 December 2007 - 16:35

Fantastic. So sad we don't get things like that anymore, and may never do.

#9 lightnin

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Posted 13 December 2007 - 18:05

great info mr D thanks for sharing ... lol i wish we could have that much snow!

#10 Coast

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Posted 14 December 2007 - 11:32

An interesting article from the Christchurch times of that time:

The winter of 1890-91 was a very long and hard one and the Christchurch Times reported the progress of the bad weather over several months. The cold weather began in November with severe frost and a fall of snow, which continued through December.

The roads were icy and dangerous, so travel was better avoided if possible. Mr and Mrs Meyrick, the son and daughter-in-law of Sir George Meyrick of Hinton Admiral, took to travelling in a Russian sleigh pulled by a horse complete with a red plume on its head and numerous bells on its harness. This was fine until one day the horse stumbled while pulling the sleigh near the "Cat and Fiddle" at Hinton . The passengers, the Misses Meyrick, were thrown out and the shafts of the sleigh were broken. Luckily no-one had any serious injury.

In January the frosts continued and the rivers froze over, preventing the Wick ferry from operating but allowing skating at the Quay. Mrs Willett Adye allowed the lake at Somerford Grange to be used for skating and after dusk the lake was illuminated by fancy lanterns. There was even a fete on the ice.

The severe weather created a great deal of hardship as people were unable to work due to the conditions. A Distress Fund was set up to which many people subscribed, raising 112. 9s. 10d. This money was used to assist 143 families in need, providing vouchers for bread, groceries and coal.

A thaw set in during February and there were hopes that the worst of the winter was over. This optimism was misplaced, as a big storm hit the area in March, with snow and strong winds causing drifts several feet thick. Further snow fell on subsequent days and roads were blocked. Sopley was completely cut off, fifty men worked to clear a passage out of the village. The snow lasted until the end of the month before warmer weather arrived and ushered in a belated but very welcome Spring.


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#11 Weather-history

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Posted 14 December 2007 - 13:21

Thanks for those photos, Coast. :rolleyes:

Here are those Times articles of that blizzard of March 1891

http://www.netweathe...showtopic=40594
Manchester Winter Index 2013-14: 7

#12 acbrixton

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Posted 14 December 2007 - 23:06

Many thanks Mr D and Coast for the articles and photographs...utterly absorbing; especially the tone and socio-economic history!

regards

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"...whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent."

[L. Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1921)]

#13 Weather-history

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Posted 12 May 2008 - 14:38

But winter wasn't over yet........


By the 11th, a Scandinavian High was back but this brought very warm air from the near continent and temperatures soared in the sunshine, Loughborough recording a maximum of 27.2C on the 12th.

http://www.wetterzen...slp18910512.gif

The weather changed dramatically as the Scandinavian high declined rapidly and was replaced by a low on the 16th. The effect was to pull down cold northerly winds across the UK, so by the 17th,
hail and snow showers were falling across many parts. This happened to be the Whit holidays and it was a cold and wintry one with a number of places on the morning of Whit Monday reporting a covering of snow, in parts of Norfolk, depths were approaching 18cm.
Temperatures were low for the time of the year with frosts at night and maxima of just between 6-8C. Marble sized hail fell across parts of the West Country during this spell.

http://www.wetterzen...slp18910517.gif


By the 20th, the temperatures were slowly returning to normal and the winter of 1890-91 had taken it's last bite of the cherry.


From the Times of 19th May 1891 on those snowfalls

The CET for 16th-19th May 1891: 5.0

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A snow scene from Northamptonshire
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Manchester Winter Index 2013-14: 7

#14 johnholmes

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Posted 12 May 2008 - 15:14

one shudders to think of the effects of a similar spell of that duration on our so called modern society

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#15 BARRY

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Posted 12 May 2008 - 20:59

one shudders to think of the effects of a similar spell of that duration on our so called modern society



I think the proverbial would hit the fan
RED SKY AT NIGHT FERRYMENS DELIGHT
RED SKY IN MORNING SOD IT STAY IN BED

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snowed 2nd 17th 18th 19th 20th december 10

Ice days 1 20/01 2012

#16 Mike W (guest)

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Posted 14 May 2008 - 13:03

Thankfully not remotely likely to occur.

#17 Weather-history

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Posted 22 November 2008 - 11:10

It all started on the 25th of November 1890, a great cold spell that would last right to the end of the year producing the coldest December on record in the CET listings with a value of -0.8

Here are weather and snow reports from this spell

November
Jersey: Snow fell for some hours in Jersey (25th)
Rochester: Snow 22" deep (25th-26th)
Maidstone: 17" deep snow (25th-27th)
Woodbridge: 9.5" deep snow (25th-27th)
Hythe: Snow commenced about 4am on 25th and continued at intervals till noon on the 28th, depth 17"
Ipswich: 16" of snow fell (25th-28th)
Bethersden: 12" of snow (26th)
Lynsted: 8" of snow (26th)
Edenbridge: 16" of snow (26th)
Newark: 4" of snow (26th)
East Grinstead: 12.5" of snow (26th-27th)
Geldeston: 15" of snow (26th-28th)
East Layotn: 16" of snow (28th)
Maxey Vicarage: 15" of snow on ground (27th)
Ketton Hall: 12" of snow (27th)
Brantinghamthorpe: 12" of snow (27th-29th)
Tenterden: 15" of snow (28th)
Canterbury: 11" of snow (28th)
Sheppey: 14" of snow (28th)
Wyke Regis: 17" of snow (28th)

December
Kensington: A month of unparalleled severity, the temp. only reaching 40F on 4 days. Very foggy and not one minute of sunshine. Mean temp: 30.8F
Lansdowne Crescent: Mean temp: 30.4F, 25 frosts
Haslemere: Extremely cold, skating from the 11th to the end.
Abinger Hall: Severe weather all through, no real break occurring
Addington: From the 13th till the end of month, max. temp never above 32F
Wallington: One of the most extraordinary months of the centruy. The coldest and most sunless remembered.
Greenwich: Coldest since since records began. The sun shone only on 4 days
Tenterden: On 15 days the temp did not rise above 32F
Keston Tower: Skating from the 11th to the close.
Emsworth: Hard frost every night
Langton Herring: Max temp for month only being 43F
Stroud: Max was only above 32F on 11 days
Orleton: Mean temp. 29.8F, max temp for month was just 45F Rivers Teme and Severn were frozen over.
Leicester: Mean temp. 28.7F
Throcking Rectory: Coldest December observed, max was below 32F on 15 days and on the 30th did not rise above 24.5F
Oxford: Rivers Thames and Cherwell, frozen from 21st to the close.
Walthamstow: Phenomenally cold and frosty. The coldest month on record with frost throughout and snow on the ground every day. The ice was over 10 inches thick at the close. Skating prevailed daily from the 12th to the 31st.
Diss: Extreme dullness, extreme coldness. Snow covered the ground deeply nearly all month.
Alderbury: Snow remained on the ground from the 8th and never thawed in the sun.
Brampford Speke: Unusually cold and snowy.
Burton: 24 air frosts, the river trent being frozen over from the 20th to the end of the year.
Ketton Hall: Wind easterly on 25 days.
Hemingby: Mean temp 30.2F
Brattleby: A real winter month. Sakting began on the 14th; the rivers were frozen hard and there was skating between Lincoln and Boston.
Southwell: On 8 days the max was below 32F
Willington: The coldest December if not the severest frost within living memory.
Southport Birkdale: The most wintry month for many years. Frost on 27 days. Ice 5.5 inches thick on freshwater lake.
Manchester: Mean temp: 32F, 28 air frosts.
Driffield: Mean temp 32.3F
Thixendale: Remarkable prevalence of easterly winds
Keswick: Derwentwater frozen over from the 13th.
Uldale: Skating on the lakes was very good.
Melrose: N or E winds on 24 days
Edinburgh: 25 days of no sunshine.
Hurdlestown: Parts of the Doon lake frozen.
Cork: Mean temp: 39.3F
Waterford: Mean temp 38.5F
Dublin: Mean temp 39.2F

Snow reports for the 18th, 19th and 20th December. These are the amounts of snow that fell on those dates

Finchley: 4"
Birchanger: 2"
Yeovil: 8"
Bath: 5"
Cheltenham: 3"
Pembridge: 6.5"
Llanfrechta Grange: 8.5"
Monmouth: 7"
Pontypridd Castle: 10"
Rochester: 5"
Bishops Cannings: 8.5"
Emsworth: 4"
Berkhamsted: 4.5"
Welwyn: 6"
Ipswich: 3"
Ross-on-Wye: 7"
Redditch: 6"
Alcester: 6"
Coventry: 4"
Southport Birkdale: 2"
Lambourne: 5"
Teignmouth: 6"
Bridgwater: 12"
Clifton: 8"
Manchester Winter Index 2013-14: 7