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Weather-history

January 1987

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January 1987 was a cold wintry month with a spell of exceptionally cold weather around mid-month. The CET for the month was 0.8C

Unsettled, mild zonal weather had dominated the previous three months but the change in the year marked a major change in the type of weather.

The New Year started unsettled as a low moved across the UK into Europe dragging down northerlies in its wake.

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/archive/ra/19...00119870101.gif

The cold snap was brief as a new low brought unsettled weather again on the 4th.

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/archive/ra/19...00119870104.gif

The weather turned colder on the 5th and high pressure built across the UK bringing frosts and freezing fog

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/archive/ra/19...00119870107.gif

On the 11th, high pressure was moving out of northern Siberia into Scandinavia whilst an active low pressure developed over Italy and a strong easterly developed across Europe. This easterly brought an exceptionally cold air mass across Europe into the UK.

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/archive/ra/19...00119870111.gif

Temperatures were below freezing and as the very cold air mass came into contact with the "warm" North Sea, very strong convection developed and this produced heavy snow showers for the east. By the 12th, virtually everywhere was below freezing with very low maxima. -7C to -9C was widely reported

in the south accompanied with a strong easterly made for an exceptional wind chill. Heavy snow showers continued to pepper eastern areas bringing blizzards,heavy snowfalls and drifting snow. The worst hit areas for snow was around the Thames Estuary and East Anglia where depths of level snow were approaching half a metre bringing widespread transport chaos.

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/archive/ra/19...00119870113.gif

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/archive/ra/19...00219870113.gif

On the 14th, a trough moved through England and Wales bringing a more general snowfall to many areas causing further disruption. The intense cold pool of air had moved through the UK and temperatures started to climb back to near freezing.

The high over Scandinavia began to lose its intensity and began to sink into central Europe sufficiently enough to allow a milder SWly flow to come into the NW of the UK on the 18th.

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/archive/ra/19...00119870118.gif

By the 20th, Atlantic air had finally broken through to all parts with higher temperatures and a slow thaw

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/archive/ra/19...00119870120.gif

The old Scandinavian high then began to drift back over the UK and this brought a lot of cloud to many parts. It wasn't until the last couple days of the month that the sun managed to break through the cloud.

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/archive/ra/19...00119870130.gif

The cold spell of January 1987 was exceptional and was probably one of the coldest spells since 1740. The intense cold and heavy snowfalls hit the SE the hardest. Transport was gridlocked and the cold even affected Big Ben's chiming hammer.

Data for January 1987

CET: 0.8

CET max mean: 3.2

CET min mean: -1.5

Coldest CET maximum day: -5.7 12th January

Coldest CET minimum day: -9.7 12th January

8th-19th January: -3.0

Heathrow

Mean Max: 3.6

Mean Min: -1.0

Air frosts: 18

Days with falling sleet/snow: 9

Days with lying snow: 6

Lowestoft

Mean Max: 2.7

Mean Min: -0.8

Air frosts: 18

Days with falling sleet/snow: 7

Days with lying snow: 11

Cardiff

Mean Max: 3.6

Mean Min: -0.8

Air frosts: 18

Days with falling sleet/snow: 6

Days with lying snow: 4

Elmdon

Mean Max: 3.0

Mean Min: -2.6

Air frosts: 20

Days with falling sleet/snow: 10

Days with lying snow: 12

Manchester

Mean Max: 3.7

Mean Min: -1.0

Air frosts: 20

Days with falling sleet/snow: 10

Days with lying snow: 7

Abbotsinch

Mean Max: 3.9

Mean Min: -2.2

Air frosts: 19

Days with falling sleet/snow: 11

Days with lying snow: 9

Belfast

Mean Max: 5.4

Mean Min: -0.8

Air frosts: 13

Days with falling sleet/snow: 8

Days with lying snow: 5

Plymouth

Mean Max: 5.3

Mean Min: 0.9

Air frosts: 20

Days with falling sleet/snow: 3

Days with lying snow: 2

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Now this single event was what got me interested in the weather. As a 10 year old, I was totally amazed and remember thinking that this would be the norm, I have been dissapointed ever since

On the north downs of Kent where I lived we had 2 1/2 feet (75cm) of level snow. Here is a pic of the hill into Walderslade village (Dargets Road)

post-4391-1163639350.jpg

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I remember that cold spell very well. I was staying on a course in Dorset when it snowed overnight and all the heating systems gave up the ghost. We all had to leave the next morning. I drove accross country back to Bristol with a couple of other guys. It took us about 8 hours to get home.

We had to wait for a couple of roads to be cleared at Shepton Mallet and then drove through a section where the snow eather side of the road was about 8 or more feet high. a little further on we started to pass a queue of about 20 or more lorries that had to park up because they couldn't get up a hill just ahead of them.

It was a fantastic day for a snow lover but I didn't have a camera with me. I would have loved to look back on some of those sights today.

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I always remember the FA Cup tie Luton v Liverpool on Luton's artifical pitch, 11th January 1987. I remember seeing the snow falling and they had to use an orange ball. It has always stuck in my head.

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Hi Mr Data

Thanks again for the report.

January 1987 was the year I got married and my stag do had to be cancelled as no one could get any where near where I lived. Biggin Hill over 200m was in the firing line and although only 19 miles from central London was cut of from traffic for four days. Westerham Hill the highest point in Kent at 870ft was impassible and several buses were marroned and buried for several days. The only snow plough in the area was also buried which prompted the council to invest in a new one at £30000.00 and its hardly been used since. The airport is on 600ft plateu and the drifts where incredible as the very cold and strong winds collected the snow at the end of the runway and onto the roads. The last time Biggin Hill was cut-off was in Dec 1927 when rain turned to snow and gave two feet of snow in 24 hours food had to be airlifted and dropped maybe thats something to write about Mr Data as I think East Kent escaped the snow totally with heavy rain but along with 1987 was the heaviest snowfall in the South. In 1987although Central London escaped the heavy snow there were some impressive low temps for the heat island of the country .The lowest temps since records began -9c min and max -6.8c was on the 12th January. Biggin Hill has its own micro climate which I love because if there is hint of marginal temps we will get snow where as where I work 6 miles away will get sleet/rain. :blink:

regards Charlton north-downs

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Yes this is the single most amazing Snowfall I have ever seen in Essex, we were hit extremely hard and i remember drifted snow of about 10 feet in places, if you add on the Great Storm in October 1987 thenthat was a pretty amazing year in weather terms.

Paul S

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I'm very surprised that Cardiff had only 4 days of lying snow, I was living in Newport (12 miles away and similar elevation) and I can remember it being on the ground for at least a week. As I recall the main snowfall started about 2pm on a weekday, I seem to remember it as a Wednesday or Thursday- by 4pm it was deep enough to cause transport problems and I remember at least 20cm falling in total, with massive icicles everywhere dangling from roofs and out of pipes. I'm pretty sure that school was still closed the following Monday and possibly Tuesday as well- I think we missed about 4 schooldays with a weekend in the middle.

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I'm very surprised that Cardiff had only 4 days of lying snow, I was living in Newport (12 miles away and similar elevation) and I can remember it being on the ground for at least a week. As I recall the main snowfall started about 2pm on a weekday, I seem to remember it as a Wednesday or Thursday- by 4pm it was deep enough to cause transport problems and I remember at least 20cm falling in total, with massive icicles everywhere dangling from roofs and out of pipes. I'm pretty sure that school was still closed the following Monday and possibly Tuesday as well- I think we missed about 4 schooldays with a weekend in the middle.

what you mean 0.0000000001mm :blink: :D

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Here's my data for Jan 1987:

Mean max 2.0

Mean min -1.6

Air frosts 19

Highest max 9.0C 1st, 4th

Lowest max -8.0C 12th

Highest min 6.0C 1st

Lowest min -10.0C 12th, 13th, 14th

160m asl, Herts.

The lowest min and lowest max are records since I started recording in 1979. Nothing in Dec 1981, Jan 1982, Feb 1986 or Feb 1991 saw maxima that low, although New Year's Day 1979 saw a min of -10C. Jan 12th 1987 is possibly the coldest day of the 20th century in southern England.

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Ahh it is therapy to type this.. :blink:

I lived on London/Kent borders and can remember the temp dropping below freezing on the Saturday 10th and the first snow flurries arriving that evening.

The following day it went dark around lunchtime (not long after John Kettleys brilliant countryfile forecast :D ) and there was a whiteout within minutes as the first heavy snow showers arrived and the main road and pavement concrete disappeared for at least a week. I got straight in the car (as you do - and it is hard to drive in snowboots!) and drove through Bromley with my friends (was heading out for tobaggining!) and became snowbound and had to turn back! The heavy snow showers continued through to the following morning by whichtime snow was drifted up to the kitchen window. It took me three and a half hours to get to work (12 miles). The day was clear with unbroken sunshine and really bitterly cold. I scraped the frost on my car at lunchtime and had to wait for my gearbox to defrost before being able to drive home that evening as more heavy snow showers arrived from the east with the dusk. Spent the next two/three days at home unable to get to work (what a shame!) and snow fell continously. It was nearly 2 foot deep by the weds and the east wind had strengthened further and blasted the snow into amazing drifts.

The next few days were spent out in the snow and right through the weekend too before it slowly started to melt the following week. There were still snow drifts around three weeks later against hedgerows and country roads.

Amazing spell ;)

Tamara

Great report Tamara,

I was living in Godstone during that spell and remember some amazing snow scenes, particularly out on the Weald, thats if you could get up there.

C

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Hi Tamara,

What a memory. I only had one such event and that was in Jan 1982.

Perhaps this winter we will be able to report such events again

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Hi Tamara,

What a memory. I only had one such event and that was in Jan 1982.

Perhaps this winter we will be able to report such events again

We can always hope.

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The Tyne & Wear region was heavily hit; I was actually living in Barrow-in-Furness with my parents at the time (and was only two and a half years old), but my grandparents reported very deep snow by the North Sea coast. Durham had 13-15 days of lying snow (I can't remember the exact number).

I originally thought that the snow event was probably restricted geographically, since Lancaster had only one centimetre of snow from it, but Mr D's stats suggest otherwise- maybe north-west Lancashire was one of the least affected areas of western Britain.

Another factor that contributed to my original suspicion of a localised event was that high pressure was very close by to the north, but as recently as 27-28 December 2005, we saw an illustration that a long-draw ENE flow and strong cold air vs warm sea contrast can be enough to generate significant shower activity, even if pressure is very high.

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I remember walking :o to college during this time. Minus 5c during the day, quite a windchill too and lots of convective snow snowers :o

Oh those were t'days

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I vividly remember 1987, a spellbinding year of weather fun and games.

1987 is what I will always define cold against being too young for 62/63 and too little to recall the late 70s. Cold really doesn't begin to describe it when walking through deep snow into a head wind on a deep ice day. If we even got a widespread 5 day spell like that people would be talking about it for years to come.

Despite its longevity, the coldest I have ever actually felt on a one-off occasion was the easterly of Feb 91. I had a 6 hour journey on public transport to visit a friend (about an hour on a normal day) and on arrival couldn't find a taxi or indeed much in the way of humanity. In places the snow was extremely deep and kept falling.

To say I needed a lot of warming up when I got there is an understatement.

Happy days those days when mulled wine and a warm fire are the end to a day of wonderment.

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Fantastic memories of 87! It had been snowing most of sunday night (being close to the Thames estuary,it kept things going!) and by monday morning everywhere was a winter wonderland.Massive drifts and about 18 inches of level snow. I went out exploring with a friend, we could leap into huge drifts head first :D We walked to Hadleigh Castle, its very exposed overlooking the estuary,took some brilliant photo's. It was late morning by now and the sky started to darken,the snow was coming off the thames,we had a complete "whiteout",couldn't see my own hand :lol:

Had a great few days that week,the most extreme snowy event i've witnessed so far ;)

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a great and instresting thread.

keep them coming as this is how i am learning.

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I was actually living in Barrow-in-Furness with my parents at the time (and was only two and a half years old)...

I originally thought that the snow event was probably restricted geographically, since Lancaster had only one centimetre of snow from it

In fact, my parents say that Barrow had a significant spell of fairly deep snow from it, so there must have been significant localised differences in the North West region.

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January 1987 CET Trackometer:

1. 7.5

2. 6.7

3. 5.1

4. 4.8

5. 5.0

6. 4.9

7. 4.3

8. 3.6

9. 3.0

10. 2.7

11. 2.0

12. 1.2

13. 0.6

14. 0.3

15. 0.1

16. 0.1

17. 0.0

18. -0.1

19. -0.1

20. -0.1

21. 0.1

22. 0.3

23. 0.5

24. 0.6

25. 0.8

26. 0.9

27. 0.9

28. 1.0

29. 1.0

30. 0.9

31. 0.8 (0.81*C)

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I know that this is an old thread,but i came across this image the other day on an irish weather site. Maybe its been posted before on nw at some stage but i thought id post it anyway. It was taken on Monday the 12th of Jan 1987. On the image we can see the snow showers affecting the east of Britan and also the east of Ireland. After that the rest as they say was history :lol:

post-6445-1247608072_thumb.jpg

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Does anyone have any British weather forecasts for 1987? (like from BBC weather)

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yeah there are a few floating around on you tube

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Does anyone have any British weather forecasts for 1987? (like from BBC weather)

Aye. 'Getting much colder'...

Are you a Destroyers fan btw? :huh:

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