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#61 Coast


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Posted 03 January 2013 - 07:51

Some wonderful home movies!

Billericay, 1962/63:


Walsall 1962:


The Moors:


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#62 joggs

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 08:12

Gr8 readings and footage, wets the appetite for whats around the corner lol ha ha

#63 drgl

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 10:38

Sadly wasn't around but I do remember some of the winters in the late 70's & early 80's have plenty of snow (compared to now!!). We just had central heating installed prior to '82 IIRC. The toilet used to freeze before that, frozen windows on the inside stick in my mind.

#64 Coast


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Posted 03 January 2013 - 10:38

Now, the coldest winter since 1740 (mentioned above) yes, 1963. Probably the worst winter of the last 100 years.

Anticyclones to the North and East of the UK, brought bitterly cold air over us. Depression tracked to the South, brining huge snowfalls to England, Wales, and Scotland. Mean maximum temperatures for January 1963 were more than 5c below average over most of Wales, the Midlands and Southern England, and in some places, an amazing 7c below average!!!!!

The winter began, just before Christmas 1962. The weather in early December was changeable and stormy. London experienced terrible fog, for a time. Gusts of up to 88 knots were recorded in the North of the UK. Winter 62/63 Courtesy O.Bullock
A belt of rain over the North of Scotland turned to snow as it moved South, giving Glasgow its first white Christmas since 1938! When the snow belt reached the South, it became almost stationary. 5cm of snow fell in the Channel Islands, 30cm in Southern England.

A blizzard over South West England, and South Wales (Yes!!! We did get snow once! ) in late December, brought snowdrifts 6m deep. It wasn't a laughing matter anymore. Villages were cut off, power lines where drought down, trains were cancelled. Farmers couldn't reach livestock, and many starved to death. Extremely tragic. From Boxing Day 1962 to early March 1963, much of England was under snow continuously, an amazing feat, 3 months of snow.

Even so, the UK was generally sunny, unlike 1947. In fact sunshine totals were above average for many.

1963 will be remembered more for its coldness, and less so its snowfall. 1947 the opposite, remembered for its snow, less its coldness. Nonetheless both were very cold and very snowy, and hazardous to life. For once, snow wasn't just fun and games.

In January 1963, there were 25 or more air frosts almost everywhere in southern England and South Wales! Mean maxes were below 0c in much of England and Wales, for January, and slightly higher during February. Braemar recorded a low of -22.2c on the 18th of January! Surpassed by 1995 interestingly!


Here's a selection of photos I've taken from the web:

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Yes, that's a double decker bus in that drift, somewhere in Somerset!

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The Teesside to Hartlepool Road

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Snow clearing in the Trough of Bowland

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'The West Midlands'

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Wheatley, Oxfordshire

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Of course trust a Mini to get through, these are a fleet of Police vehicles in Flintshire used during the 1963 Winter


Burnley, January 1963

Edited by Coast, 03 January 2013 - 10:39 .

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#65 Charltonkerry

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 10:44

My favourite topic is the winter of 62/63, my kids still shudder at the mention of it.

I was 10 years old and lived in the poor part of Dartford in a 3 bedroom council house, with an outside loo and coal house. I was in the last year of junior school and never missed a single day as we where getting ready for the dreaded 11+. Oh do I remember that Boxing Day, we where round relatives up the posh end of Dartford and we around 6pm to catch a bus home, as we where standing at the bus stop so the first flake gently meandered down to earth, being an excitable youngster I got very excited which ended with a clip around the ear, and the famous comments by my dad of "you will be able to walk around all the walls of Dartford tomorrow and still not have enough snow to make a single snowball". Oh how wrong he was.

My father worked in the centre of Dartford in a foundry (sp), so at least he kept warm, he was a man mountain and fit as a fiddle and used to get up at 5am every morning to go to work, however his first job was to make the fire up in the front room (only room with heating), once the snow was on the ground somehow this became my and my mums job as we had to dig our way out to the coal house and toilet before we could light the fire or go to the loo. The things that really stick in my mind is going to bed, you had to leave the warm room to go to a freezing bedroom and get to an equally freezing bed (cotton or polyester sheets) which meant you where shivered yourselves to sleep, but when you woke up, oh the warmth was fantastic, until you had to get out into that freezing bedroom, the thermal shock was enormous and the shivering restarted immediately, obviously if it was turn to get the coal or needed the loo, then you got warm (and wet) by digging your way out to the shed.

Then the trip to school, firstly the donning of multilayered clothes on the top half of my body which kept that part nice and warm, and for you younger ones us poor boys wore short trousers and they where considerably cheaper than long trouser, along with these we wore long woollen socks and my only pair of shoes, couldn't afford wellies or similar. On the way to school was the traditional snow ball fight with the older kids going to secondary school , us youngster normally ended up being thrown into the nearest snow drift by the older buggers, thus getting soaking wet, also who can remember the feel of sodden woollen gloves, till this day I still shiver at the thought of that feeling. On arrival at school we had the fun of the snowball fight with the girl school next door (always won, and always ended in tear, sure it had nothing to do with putting icicles in with the snowball mix :-)) then the slide which by the end was over 100' long, oh the happy memories and the minor cuts and bruises, anyone sensible feel over with 10' to go, but us hard nuts kept going to the bitter end, unfortunately this was a brick wall.

Then on into the classroom, it was hot, yes, the only time I was warm, outstanding memories from here was the gloves steaming on the radiators, coats, socks and shoes drying, yes we went barefooted around the classroom. The milk with the silver tops sticking up by around an 1" until they defrosted and the unbearable smell of drying clothes. But mostly the chapped legs and the teachers rubbing on Vaseline (again a luxury we couldn't afford). Hot food at dinner time prior to the ongoing fun in the playground. Then the trip home which was a repeat of the journey there.

Well I better get on with some work, but sometime I will finish off with some more of my memories, if anyone's interested.

Dartford Kent.

#66 Coast


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Posted 03 January 2013 - 10:53

I will finish off with some more of my memories, if anyone's interested.

Yes please. :good:

Seems like a lifetime away and such a difference to today, where when the heating goes off in October, the kids are off school for a week!!!

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#67 WhiteFox

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 11:17

Some great memories there! Of course I'm far too young to have been around then, but a few things mentioned do stir some memories from winters past!

Frozen milk. I did a milk round on Saturdays from 1988 to 1993 and do recall a few occasions when this happened. Many will say "But that was during a period of mild winters" and so it was. However, there were some notable periods of frost even during those winters and I do remember the milk freezing on a couple of occasions and pushing the lid off the bottles. Pity the poor milkmen and milk boys as we couldn't wear gloves (the milkman was a hard man and refused to use a handcrate "They're for girls", so we used to carry the bottles in our hands. By 1993 I could carry ten bottles in two hands!). We had to use fingerless gloves which to this day I think are useless. I also remember some fountains freezing. Couldn't have been the 1988/9 winter as that was just too mild and it wasn't 1991 as that was memorable for different reasons, so if Mr Data has records of any notable inversions which led to severe frosts and days around freezing (although it was snowless) then I'd be very interested to know!

Also, the inside of windows freezing. Although we had central heating, we did not have double glazing and by the 1980s the original 1960s windows were feeling their age. There were many occasions when ice formed on the inside of windows, with 1981/2 being particularly bad (that is was also the last time I saw huge icicles hanging from houses until 2009).

Of course this all pales in comparison to 1963 but a few points are worthy:
1. People suffered during that winter, probably much more than they would if we had a similar winter these days.
2. JH is right about transport and Just in Time logistics. There would be problems with distribution, but then I guess there were also problems in 1963.
3. The road network would seize up. This is inevitable, but again it's worth noting that traffic levels are many degrees higher than in 1963. I remember in 2009 when people were mentioning the M4 queuing from the M25 to Reading because of snow. My response at the time was that this happens quite a few times a year without snow so it is no surprise that 4 inches of snow causes this! The main routes would be cleared fairly quickly.

My view on the impact of a winter like 1963 today is similar to my view on the Olympics; plenty of people predict the worst and forecast armageddon, but things would somehow manage to carry on.
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#68 Charltonkerry

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 12:12

Right officially bored at work now, and being that coast asked for more, here it comes (interesting point re work, I actually got involved with my job via the winter of 62/63 as the cold fascinated me, my job, I design industrial refrigeration plants, therefore If I need a dose of cold, all I have to do is to drive to one of my sites, and I can get a fix of temperatures of anywhere between -30 and +10c) and before anyone asks I can't fix domestic fridges and I refuse to work for any supermarkets either. Right back to the memories

My mum who didn't work at this time was the real boss of the household, despite what my father thought. It was her job to get the food on the table and she did every single day, normally twice a day as my father came home for lunch. As I stated previously we where poor and luxuries where few, however the food was always there, it was the winter of '62/63 that she produced the meals that really stopped us from dying and allowed us to survive the winter, costs of all vegetables etc rocketed as they where frozen in the ground (no luxuries of frozen foods in them days) as an example there are photos of the frozen fields being defrosted by braziers down in Thanet on the Internet, so if you had to do that you can imagine the costs of them in the shops. Mum decided on the day after Boxing Day to start up one of her famous hot pots, in went the left over turkey, with anything else that was left over including all the veg, potatoes etc, this pot was massive and must had held many galleons of liquid etc, it was so heavy it never moved from the hot plate. Well as winter progressed and the cold intensified so more and more items where added, can remember a dead rabbit going in (accidentally shot by one of our neighbours in a field opposite us), my favourite was neck of mutton not much meat but very flavoursome, all sorts of offal, I believe a pigs head in at one stage. I can still smell it now, but I was often momentarily put of when mum scraped the scum off the top, dependent upon what mean was used then this could be an inch thick (my uncle used to take this home with him, although I never worked up the courage to ask him why? I just didn't want to know) this hot pot finally finished around the 2nd week of march and we where still finding the odd turkey bone even then. That single turkey saved our family.

Coming back to the cold, waking up in the morning, only amateurs used there hands to defrost the windows, us professional snow watchers had a much more warmer system, we took a 2d piece to bed with so when you woke up you placed this at eye height on the window, and hey presto the ice melted, no cold hand for me, we'll not until the track to the outside loo began anyway. The windows where ill fitting I think crittal metal frames, single glazed, the inside window seal was ice with if it had snowed during the night a fresh layer of snow.

I remember well the icicles where a tremendous length, especially those hanging from the gutters, I believe a of gutters actually broke through the wait of ice hanging from them, another memory was how everyone swept there own paths and kept them clear by using domestic salt, this had the added benefit of turning the paths in death traps as the ice / snow would defrost during the day and promptly re freeze again at night when the freezing point of the salt / water solution was reached, oh what fun to here the milkman / paper boy take a tumble.

No doubt I can think of some more, but duty calls.
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#69 Village

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 14:11

Had the cane for throwing snowballs at teachers car, Two across each hand. Case of mistaken identity

the winter of 1962/63 was before my time, but I remember being one of a group at school in the winter of 1979 when we rolled the biggest snow roller and left it infront of Mr Miller's blue Reliant Robin car in the teacher's car park. Posted Image
We all were called out in assembly the next morning and made to stand and stay behind to meet the Headmaster who told us that because of our stupidity that Mr Miller couldnt move his car and therefore was put out to get home and not in that morning! We paid for it with the stick.

Another thing the younger generations dont know is that if we get another very cold winter many cars wont work because there are so many more diesel vehicles today and the fuel will start to solidify in the tanks.
Back in the 1970's lorry drivers would light fires under their diesel fuel tanks to warm the fuel so that they could start their engines. It of course was a really dangerous thing to do, but it had to be done if one needed to get going and get warm.

Edited by Village, 03 January 2013 - 14:54 .

#70 mike Meehan

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 18:56

The cold weather started off in December of 1962 and for a time we had freezing fog where the temperature remained at a -5c for a few days - during month I went to a friend who had a houseboat on the Thames and the river was starting to freeze over - there was ice on the inside walls of his houseboat which wasn't really anything more than a caravan on a punt.

The next I recall was when I went with my then fiancée to her parent's in the Chilterns not far from Whipsnade Zoo over Christmas and it started snowing on the Boxing Day.

Then on New Years Eve we went into central London when it started to snow again with large flakes falling on the pavements not melting at all.

At the time I was living in Hounslow and early in the New Year woke up to find considerable more snow which had formed drifts up to 2 feet deep on he roads - it had not been disturbed by traffic and remained virginal.

At the time I was spending most of my time working in the Met Office in the Queen's Building at Heathrow as a scientific assistant. At various times some forecasters would try to drag up a front from the southwest but it never materialised exactly like that - I beleive we did get one front from that direction which ended up with snow preceeding and falling after the front when normally it would be expected for the following precipitation to turn to rain.

I recall others remarking on the balmy weather they were having in Stornaway which was getting highs of 4C.

We did get a patch of milder weather for a few days and this coincided with me being sent over to the 'North Side' where we did our obs - it made me feel a little disappointed to see the snow starting to turn grey with the pollution and slowly melt a little but it did not last and thankfully we entered the ice box once more with a little fresh snow to make everything look nice again.

I visited my fiancée at regular intervals, travelling along the M4 on a motorcycle to Kensington where she was living - at speeds above 40 mph the snow hitting my face grew quite painful - we had open helmets in those days.

On a visit back to the future in laws I was negotiating a right bend when I lost the front wheel through ice which was beneath the snow - we both fell off but no damage was caused - just that my throttle remained stuck open and the engine was screaming for all it was worth, so my instinctive first reaction was to go to the bike and close the throttle - it took a little while to live that down.

Eventually it became milder and patches of green beneath the white started to look quite strange - by this time we had got so used to a white landscape that anything else seemed odd.

I've spent the rest of my life hoping that one winter we may get a repeat performance especially in terms of the longevity of the white stuff - I have been hopeful a few times when we have had a cold spell, say for one two or three weeks but we have always been thwarted eventually by the Atlantic, so I have ended up somewhat disappointed.
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#71 Polar Continental

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 19:56

Thanks for starting this carinthian :-) great thread.

Yes I was only a young lad during the great 62-63 winter, some peeps may have read the double page spread in the daily express which appeared at the end of November, ‘When Britain Froze’ worth a read if you haven’t seen. I have a contribution at the bottom of the 5th column. See attachment. Part can also be read on the winter section on the net-weather front page.

I would like to add much more in here, when I am not so busy with my own website, will try to add more of my memories from that fascinating winter.

express nov 30 2012.JPG


Edit: the print may to small for us oldies to read, use your browser to magnify or save to your pc and view in paint.

Edited by Polar Continental, 03 January 2013 - 19:59 .

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#72 jethro

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 20:34

Anyone interested in the epic winters of 47, 63 and lots lots more should try to get a copy of this book - it's brilliant!

Somerset - mid way between Bath and Wells, up in the Mendip hills 200ish meters asl.

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#73 iand61

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 22:11

Anyone interested in the epic winters of 47, 63 and lots lots more should try to get a copy of this book - it's brilliant!


got this book as a Christmas present a couple of years ago and agree that it is a brilliant read giving a blow by blow account of the way that the winters panned out.

#74 Village

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 13:46

I know one thing....I have been lucky enough to have lived through the deepest snowfall in this country. The snow lay for almost three weeks.

It was January 1987 I think if my memory serves me well. I lived on the seafront in southeast Essex with my parents at the time and the wind turned northeasterly and strengthened one Saturday afternoon. Snow showers set in later which became heavier and heavier. Some with thunder and lightning and a mini tornado which swept down the beach picking up a spout of snow from the ground. It was great. The snow after the first afternoon was only laying to a depth of about four or five inches with drifts of 18 inches.
Then the next day the wind dropped off and the showers faded during the morning. At dusk it started to snow again, but this time it was continuous. It became heavier and heavier during the evening and the wind was variable. Temperatures were about -2C on the coast. The snow became ridiculously heavy at times and it snowed all night until about mid morning on the Monday. I went downstairs to the porch to leave and try to get to work at about 7 am and it was still dark. The scene that confronted me was unbelievable. I couldnt see much street light through the glass porch door, only at the top half. I opened the front door and was immediately confronted with a huge wall of snow. I thought it was strange to have had drifting snow without wind. I was wrong! It wasnt driftied snow!!! its was completely level snow of 38 inches in depth!!! a meter of level snow!
My sister's MGB roadster was parked in the road outside and all you could see was a gentle mound of snow in the road.

I couldnt possibly walk in it ...nobody could. So I got my Dad's waders out which come up to your chest and tried to walk to the station! It was impossible, one huge step at a time to lift one leg as high as i could up to waste hight to put it down again and then gradually i rose up on the compacted snow with each foot step. I couldnt go far, had to turn back.

Later that day the wind got up to gail force from the east, northeast and it blew all this powder snow into huge drifts. One house at the end of the beach had a drift to the roof and you could walk in an eighteen inch gap between a sheer virtigle wall of snow that went right up two floors to the guttering. All the roads became blocked, but nobody could get their cars out anyway. The roads stayed blocked for a week until the council bulldozers managed to dig a five mile route to free up a carriageway. I have photos of the fifteen foot drifts and drifts to the top of buses.

Somebody walked across the corner of the bonnet of my sisters car because they didnt know the car bonnet was there !! The snow was absolutely ridiculous....38 inches of level !! never seen anything like it since, thats 96.5cm. On the Thursday I think, the temperature in the morning was -15C. The North Sea froze to about half a mile off shore and where the sea ice ended there was sea smoke.

It was amazing to see. I watched lightning from a Cumulonimbus dumping snow over the Isle of Sheppey during this time and snapped a photo of that looking across the sea ice. Unbelievable time.

Edited by Village, 04 January 2013 - 13:51 .

#75 drgl

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 15:20

/\ Please post up the pictures if you can, would love to see them. I remember a good dumping of snow around here in '86 I think.

#76 Terminal Moraine

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Posted 05 January 2013 - 11:11

I was coming up for 10 in the winter of 1963 and remember it very well. In this area it was a winter remembered more for the intensity and longevity of the frost rather than the amount of snow.
In common with the other contributors in this section I lived in a house with no central heating or double glazing; we had coal fires in the kitchen and the front room and relied on these for warmth. The unheated rooms were, literally, freezing and my mother had the delicate job each morning of gently thawing out the lead pipes, without bursting them, so that we had running water for the rest of the day.
The windows, even in the heated rooms, were thick with frost throughout the day and it took a considerable amount of scraping to see anything through the bedroom windows. I remember having a glass of water on a table by my bed and waking up on several mornings to find it frozen too hard to poke a finger through the ice.
The local school did not close and I don't remember missing a day due to snow or severe frost. On one morning in mid-January we were playing outside prior to lessons beginning when the headmaster summoned about 5 of us older boys to come with him. The headmaster could be a fearsome man and we wondered what we might have done but he led us to a Six's thermometer on the wall of the school, about 4 feet above the playground. It was reading 9F at about 9.0 a.m, and this on a hilltop site at about 230 mts. He solemnly informed us that we should look at that thermometer very carefully as we might never see a reading as low as long as we live.
That made a very big impression on me. I already had an interest in the weather and had kept some rudimentary records for about six months in 1962 after the tremendous gale in February that year. I was now resolved to get myself a thermometer and keep 'proper' records and so began my weather records in September 1963 when my parents bought me a thermometer and a rain gauge.
A local pond was frozen so thickly that a farmer's son drove a tractor across it. ( Unfortunately he tried the same stunt at the beginning of March and the tractor went through the ice. He got out but the tractor was there for several weeks until it could be dragged out)
One final memory is that of feeding the birds. My parents used to buy 'Swoop' bird food ( anyone remember that? ) and we had several bird tables in a large garden. Even the shyest of birds seemed to lose all fear of humans in that winter, so desperate were they for food, and I remember seeing Green Woodpeckers eating from the bird table only a few feet from the kitchen window. I also remember a Robin which couldn't stand or fly properly. My mother went out, picked it up, and brought it indoors to find that it had two balls of ice, about the size of large marbles, frozen to it's feet. She got a small bowl of warm water into which she held its' feet until the ice thawed, dried it off and released it unharmed.( and probably very relieved).
I've certainly seen snowier winters than 1962/63 but I still haven't seen a lower temperature at a hilltop site than tthe 9F in the school playground.

Edited by Terminal Moraine, 05 January 2013 - 12:48 .

Patiently awaiting the winter to eclipse 1683/84

#77 iand61

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Posted 05 January 2013 - 11:56

Fascinating read TM.
I like the part about the the lowest temperature and I've both read and heard first hand about birds and other wildlife losing all fear of humans during this bleak time.
Although I was old enough to say I lived through the winter of 1963 (the clue is in the name) I wish I could have actually witnessed it as it must have been amazing although no doubt very tough for those having to work through it.

To all posters on this thread, thanks and please keep up the stories coming in.

#78 Supercell 89

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Posted 05 January 2013 - 12:49

Some incredible stories thanks for sharing everyone :)

I was born in 1989 so can't even begin imagine what it must of been like during the winters of '87, '63 and '47, never seen snow deeper than 2-3 inches deep! Only had my first proper sub zero max here in Reading a few weeks back when it got to just -1.9c before that the coldest day I'd experienced was only a high of -0.6c.

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#79 johnholmes

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Posted 05 January 2013 - 13:06

To illustrate how cold and how prolonged taken from the link I show I think on page 2 for my experiences working through that winter the following shows a lengthy period BELOW zero C for the whole time. Not one or two ice days almost a week!

And there was a continuous frost(air temperature constantly below 0C) from 1500Z on 18th January 1963 until 0900Z on 2
6th January 1963(186 hours); put another way, almost a WHOLE week!!

the averages Mean=-5.6C
Aveg Max=-2.2C
Avge Min=-9.0C

Now maybe some folk will understand my reluctance to experience that type of winter ever again!

remember these were official Met O readings with all the checks and double checks that occur with their statistics and everything needing to conform to very rigorous observing and siting of instruments.

Just thought of another comparison
I have been skiing every year since 1988 at Wengen 4100ft up in the Swiss Alps. The official temperature figures for there have only on 1 or 2 years shown values lower than mine when averaged over a week!

Edited by johnholmes, 05 January 2013 - 13:10 .

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#80 Thundery wintry showers

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Posted 05 January 2013 - 17:04

Some great and insightful accounts of the 1962/63 winter here. The persistence of cold frozen snowy weather was well beyond anything that I've experienced- my nearest approaches were 17th December 2009-9th January 2010, and 25th November-26th December 2010.

Having read through all of the accounts, I get the impression that I'd have really enjoyed the early part of that winter, but not sure about 9 weeks of it, as the references to dwindling food supplies, broken heating systems and repeated partial freeze-thaw cycles turning the snow icy are off-putting. However, there's a lot to be said for living through such a remarkable event and being able to tell the tale afterwards- I have no regrets about being in France during the August 2003 heatwave for instance, even though it was hell at the time.

I think we'd certainly be forced to re-think some of our Health and Safety policies in order to keep moving were such a winter to happen again!

Edited by Thundery wintry showers, 05 January 2013 - 17:09 .

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