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The severe winter 1962-63 A special report with Times articles

#1 User is online   summer '85 

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Posted --

The winter of 1962-63 is the third coldest winter ever recorded.

December began with an anticyclone near the UK and this gave cold frosty, foggy conditions. There was a fear of a repeat of what happened during early December 1952 when thick smog was believed to have  killed thousands but fortunately it was not on the same scale

 

The weather bcame more unsettled and milder mid month as lows moved in from the Atlantic

 

Although, there was a short cold blast on the 13th

It wasn't until the 23rd that the real intense cold started

Christmas Day 1962 was a white Christmas across Scotland largely and this spread to northern England later in the day.
A frontal system moved into Scotland during Christmas Day and this brought rain to places but with snow over higher ground.

 

The rain increasingly turned to snow over lower ground as it pushed through Scotland and there was a covering.
The snow had set in across northern England by the end of the day. Further south it was bitterly cold with sub zero maxima, it wasn't until Boxing Day that the snow arrived here but when it did it,it snowed for many hours. Depths of snow approached two and a half feet in places

A new low pushed into the Bay of Biscay and this gave strong easterly winds and heavy drifting snow to the south adding to the depths of snow that had already fallen.  Conditions were very severe with blizzards, whiteout conditions and numerous roads became impassable because of huge drifts 

 

Into the start of January, the cold easterly flow continued with low pressures to the south bringing further snowfalls to the south although the intensity of the cold was lost somewhat by the 4th in the south and the snow turned to rain in places, even freezing at times

 

A fresh pool of very cold air poured into NE parts on the 7th and the intensity of the cold increased

The intensity of the cold was to wax and wane as fresh pools of cold Arctic air was directed by the Greenland block and Atlantic air trying to push in, the 12th was a particularly cold as a blast of Arctic air poured in from Scandinavia

 

Frosts were severe with -16C being recorded at Gatwick and Shawbury recording a maximum of just -7C in
freezing fog. Snow showers fell in places exposed to the wind flow.

The block pulled out of Greenland and moved into Scandinavia with clear skies and calm conditions across Scotland and this made the night of the 18th  especially cold night with -22.2C at Braemar.

 

Further south, the gradient intensified on the 19th and it was a bitterly cold with sub zero maxima and heavy snow showers. Yet again, there was further drifting.

The high pressure became centred over the south of the UK and with a snow cover and calm conditions, nighttime minima were very low in the south. -20.6C at Stanstead Abbots on the 23rd, the record minimum for that date.

The mildest day of January 1963 widely  was  the 26th as less cold air moved around the high centred near Ireland as a system pulled into Scandinavia.

The less cold interlude was shortlived however as the high pulled towards Greenland and a new Arctic blast poured down from the north

February continued the very cold theme with fresh pools of Arctic air pulled around the block around Iceland and Greenland.

 

A low pressure moved down on the flow and intensified to the west of the UK bringing strong southerly winds, heavy snow and blizzards to a number of western areas. Some areas had a huge snowfall with as much as 5 feet in parts of Gwent and 1.6ft at Belfast.

 

Milder air was attempting to come into the south as February progressed and this gave occasional thaws here but the cold continued unabated further north

 

There were further snowfalls as Atlantic systems try to push in but again the cold maintained its grip

During the last few days of February, high pressure started to assert itself and although frosts remained sharp the intensity of the cold was losing its grip during the day and a slow daytime thaw occurred.

By the 6th of March, the frosts ended and the great  winter of 1962-63 finally ended. By this stage a number of places have had continous snow cover since December 26th

 

Data for Winter 1962-63

December 1962:  1.8 (-2.9)
January  1963: -2.1 (-5.5)
February 1963: -0.7 (-4.7)

January 1963 is the 5th January coldest on record
February 1963 is 7th coldest February on record

The first half of December: 3.1
The second half of December: 0.6
The first half of January: -1.6
The second half of January: -2.6
The first half of February: -0.8
The second half of February: -0.6

The mean CET max for winter: 2.5
The mean CET min for winter: -3.1

23rd December-19th February: -1.6

Coldest spells of the winter

2nd-6th Dec 1962: -1.1

 

23rd Dec 1962-3rd Jan 1963: -2.4

 

7th-26th Jan 1963: -3.6

1st-7th Feb 1963: -2.1

16th-20th Feb 1963: -0.7


The coldest CET maximum day: -3.6C  23rd/24th January

The coldest CET minimum night: -13.2C  23rd January

The mildest CET maximum day: 12.6C  15th December

It was a very sunny winter. For England and Wales, it recorded over 200hrs, for Scotland it was
the sunniest winter ever recorded and just over 170hrs for Northern Ireland.

For the UK as a whole, it was a dry winter generally.  

Data for January 1963

STORNOWAY

Mean Max: 4.5 (-2.1)
Mean Min: 0.4 (-2.2)
Highest Max: 7.3 (25th)
Lowest Min: -7.2 (12th)
Days with lying snow: 3
Days with falling sleet/snow: 12

RENFREW

Mean Max: 2.6  (-3.2)
Mean Min: -2.7 (-4.0)
Highest Max: 8.8 (26th)
Lowest Min: -13.8 (13th)
Days with lying snow: 1
Days with falling sleet/snow: 12

TYNEMOUTH

Mean Max: 2.6 (-3.6)
Mean Min: 0.1 (-2.5)
Highest Max: 5.9 (26th)
Lowest Min: -6.2 (23rd)
Days with lying snow: 8
Days with falling sleet/snow: 18

MANCHESTER

Mean Max: 0.8  (-5.3)
Mean Min: -3.6 (-4.9)
Highest Max: 5.0 (26th)
Lowest Min: -10.2 (13th, 24th)
Days with lying snow: 22
Days with falling sleet/snow: 14


ELMDON

Mean Max: -0.1 (-6.3)
Mean Min: -5.5 (-7.1)
Highest Max: 4.3 (26th)
Lowest Min: -16.0 (23rd)
Days with lying snow: 31
Days with falling sleet/snow: 16

KEW

Mean Max: 0.6  (-6.1)
Mean Min: -2.7 (-5.5)
Highest Max: 5.5 (26th)
Lowest Min: -9.7 (25th)
Days with lying snow: 27
Fays with falling sleet snow: 21

BELFAST

Mean Max: 1.9  (-4.5)
Mean Min: -2.9 (-5.0)
Highest Max: 5.0 (26th)
Lowest Min: -10.6 (23rd)
Days with lying snow: 8
Days with falling sleet/snow: 19

Photos

December 1962
http://tonywray.supanet.com/pics/snow3.jpg
http://tonywray.supanet.com/pics/snow2.jpg
http://www.icons.org.uk/library/stock-images/routemaster/0761956.jpg

January 1963
http://www.bbc.co.uk/gloucestershire/weather/2003/12/gallery/bagpath_snow_1963_320.jpg
http://www.mkheritage.co.uk/cv/images/winter/s32.jpg
http://www.mkheritage.co.uk/cv/images/winter/s6.jpg
http://www.norfolkmills.co.uk/images/Oxnead%20Jan1963.jpg
http://www.thamesweb.co.uk/windsor/windsorhistory/images/isis63_2.jpg
http://lancingvillage.co.uk/History/portslade/oldvillage/images/village-7.jpg

February 1963
http://www.mkheritage.co.uk/cv/images/winter/s20.jpg
http://www.mkheritage.co.uk/cv/images/winter/s10.jpg


http://www.alangeorge.co.uk/Images4-A-H/Cwmbargoed_OnTheRailwayCrossing_1963_JohnHumphries_DerekEvans.JPG
http://www.watercressline.co.uk/tw/pics/nkcp1962.jpg
http://www.hemelhempsteadtoday.co.uk/mk4custompages/getimage.aspx?imageID=3617


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#2 User is online   summer '85 

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Posted --

Some more remarkable photos

http://www.alangeorge.co.uk/Images4-A-H/BreconBeacons_StoreyArmsAABox_Jan-12th-1963.JPG
http://www.sheernessheritagecentre.com/Frozen%20sea%201963.jpg
http://www.oneguyfrombarlick.co.uk/images/userpictures/22/143/20060102101428_799_Barlick%20Rd%201963.jpg
http://www.arsenal.com/images/pics/partingshot31x.jpg
http://www.bbc.co.uk/herefordandworcester/content/images/2005/03/03/1963_blockhouse_lock_diglis_470x470.jpg
http://www.bbc.co.uk/herefordandworcester/content/images/2005/03/03/1963_winter_470x352.jpg
http://www.lancashire.gov.uk/environment/historichighways/gallery/snowtob.jpg
http://www.countrybus.co.uk/images/wakesnow.jpg
http://www.bristolhistory.com/images/Purdown_tower_winter_1963.jpg
http://www.thesquarecottage.com/99th/photos/51snowjan63.jpg
http://www.pannal-ash.org.uk/assets/images/db_images/db_Beckwith_Cres_Winter_1963-41.jpg
http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/coatewater/coatepictures/018-%20Winter%201963%20opt.jpg
http://www.ruishton.org.uk/gallery/rrr/river_frozen_1963_pic_2.jpg
http://www.hemelhempsteadtoday.co.uk/mk4custompages/GetImage.aspx?ImageID=40669
http://www.halifaxtoday.co.uk/mk4custompages/GetImage.aspx?ImageID=26214



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#3 User is online   Chris Alder 

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Posted --

Thanks for that Kevin, a great read!
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#4 User is online   summer '85 

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Posted --

Photos from around Europe during that winter

 Lake Zurich
http://www.ethlife.ethz.ch/images/gefrSee-l.jpg

The Netherlands
http://emigracioneindhoven.dse.nl/molinoynieve.JPG
http://www.heemskerkinbeeld.nl/oude%20sitefoto's/Winter%201962-63%20Dijkman.jpg
http://users.raketnet.nl/~plaisant/Winter1963/KooiWinter.jpg
http://home.quicknet.nl/qn/prive/eh.baalbergen/velisena/winter1963-04.jpg

Germany

http://sw.konstanz.de/unterhaltung/fotogalerien/bilder_faehre/seite2/2-10-g.jpg
http://www.monschau.de/data/diashow/1672_1058180294.jpg

Belgium
http://www.kycn.be/images/Photos%20hiver%201965/MC09c.jpg



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#5 User is offline   Dave K 

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Posted --

Thanks Kevin , this is a great series of posts [y]

I now know for sure that anyone who seriously wants a repeat of winters such as '47, 62/3 is clinically insane ;)
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#6 User is online   summer '85 

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Posted --

Here's from the 27th December 1962 edition of the Times


 






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#7 User is online   summer '85 

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Posted --

From the 28th December edition










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#8 User is online   summer '85 

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Posted --

From the New Year's Eve edition









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#9 User is online   summer '85 

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Posted --

Here's a short report on January 1963 from the 1st of February 1963 edition of the Times



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#10 User is offline   Llevant 

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Posted --

Amazing winter; also because on 25 th Dec 62 took place the most important snowfall in Barcelona. From 30 to 100 cm of snow! I hope to see something like that at least, once in my life here...
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#11 User is online   summer '85 

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Posted --

Browsing youtube when I stumbled across these gems from the winter of 1962-63. Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gi69b8rMPGc&feature=channel_page
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9LEueIe2P6Y&feature=channel_page

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_bT5zlj_usY&feature=channel_page
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6XriCSVa_M&feature=channel_page


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#12 User is offline   asm 

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Posted --

For me, it was a very memorable winter indeed! (I was eight yeers old in late 1962) People forget that early December cold spell which was the UK's last full on smog! For nearly a week it was veery cold and so dense with greyish brown fog in my area - Wolverhampton- We went out with scarfs about our faces but I still developed bronchitis!!

After the normal wethar mid month, it really started to get cold just before Christmas. It snowed all day boxing day and drifts were up to the window sills! I couldn't get out too much in Xmas hols as the biting gale force winds really hurt my ear drums! The feeling of cold was unbelievible. About mid jan many houses on the estate-including ours-lost water due to pipes freezing. We also ran out of coke (Coal & Coke fires were used by majority in our region) There was some intense wether mid Jan, in fact I recall seeing my dad's `Express & Star` (W,Ton local paper) with a screaming headline of "BLIZZARD!!" And that's what happened the next day. Good news was two days off school!

On one day I did go out (A Saturday) to some rough land that had a large pool. I was too scared to venture on to it, but neghbours kids (three brothers) were at centre of the pool smashing rocks onto the frozen surface to try and crack it - how stupid!! Anyhow, they hardly made a dent so frozen was it.

I think it was mid Feb when the biggest snow storm yet hit W,Ton and we had more days off school. The latter end of Feb was quiet but still very cold-however, the days became brilliantly sunny into early March and there was a slow daytime melting of the still very extensive snow! After a few days into March it suddenly went much milder which felt like a heatwave to us then! Finally it was over!

Even well into April there was still some free ice on that pool as it was shelytered mid day by high earth banks! Even a bit of snow in sheltered hollows on that rough land into April!
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#13 User is offline   Pete Roberts 

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Posted --

I was 11 at the time and remember that at where I lived at the time (Heswall, Wirral) the thaw was well under way at the end of February. Bright sunny days saw 50F (not been seen for months) but chilly nights.

Winter made a final sally in late April - on my 12th birthday (21st) I remember wintry showers driven by biting squalls while looking around the shops in Liverpool city centre. The cold relented a week later and led to a fortnight's heatwave in mid-May. The only decent weather in what was going to be a very lacklustre summer - in fact very much like the last two or three summers.

Pete
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#14 User is offline   kvet 

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Posted --

I may have posted this before-if so my apologies. My memories of 62-63 as a 14y/o in Hull are those of the endless snow in the back garden being replaced overnight in March by a lake- the soil was frozen of course. Through the lake the daffs were coming up.
Sometime in mid-january the cast-iron outside down pipe froze. As the bath wouldn't empty, we chucked the water down the loo. My dad got fed up with this, so he hit the down-pipe with a hammer. Bits of metal fell off, revealing about a month's worth of frozen bath water inside. Apart from that the power workers went on strike for a huge wage rise-which they got. We never missed a day's school, nor did we miss out on food- we stored it in the back garden, as we didn't have a fridge.
In April I went on my very first trip abroad-with the school. N. Europe was brown and dead. We went through an Alpine tunnel into a different world. Sun and warmth we had not seen for six months, and spaghetti that was longer than 1/2" and wasn't called Heinz. Sadly the waitresses did not respond to us practising in Italian "please take your top off". Life has never been the same since!
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#15 User is offline   asm 

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Posted --

The thing I most recall were those awful biting winds! It made it almost impossible to go out for any length of time!

Very interesting that Jan 1963 is rated the 5th coldest ever! I recall reading once that 1795 had possibly the coldest ever January and 1684 a truly cold one! Can anyone help with the other two `colder than 63` January's and are CET for all four availible please?
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#16 User is offline   Dave K 

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Posted --

Quote

asm - 6/1/2011 14:28 The thing I most recall were those awful biting winds! It made it almost impossible to go out for any length of time! Very interesting that Jan 1963 is rated the 5th coldest ever! I recall reading once that 1795 had possibly the coldest ever January and 1684 a truly cold one! Can anyone help with the other two `colder than 63` January's and are CET for all four availible please?


January 1795: -3.1 °C
January 1684: -3.0 °C (I think this figure may be slightly rounded up/down)
January 1814: -2.9 °C
January 1740: -2.8 °C
January 1963: -2.1 °C

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#17 User is offline   asm 

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Posted --

Thanks Dave! Great data! Jan 1795 must have been `ferocious` Seems the coldest January's beat coldest February's by quite a way as Feb 47 at - 1.9 is still coldest ever February! I wonder if any of those January's were `windier` than Jan 63 as that is my abiding memory of Jan 63, the raging wind!
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#18 User is offline   Bazmundo 

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 19:52

BBC News feature comparing this epic winter to modern winter issues. Best quote, "Objects were more simple and robust."

http://www.bbc.co.uk...gazine-20785406
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#19 User is offline   Colin Ure 

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 20:13

View PostBazmundo, on 20 December 2012 - 19:52, said:

BBC News feature comparing this epic winter to modern winter issues. Best quote, "Objects were more simple and robust."

http://www.bbc.co.uk...gazine-20785406



I was thinking about this today and comparing the 1962-63 winter with the recent Dec 2010 we had up here - and although not an official station obviously here are my stats as a comparison....

Average Temp: -2.59 C
Min. Temp: -12.7 C

Air Frosts: 25
Ice Days: 14 (7 in a row)

Days of Lying Snow: 31 (all month basically)
Max Depth of Snow: 71cm

So, farily similar (especially if you include the last few days of Nov. and into Jan.) - older locals here commented it was at least as bad as 1962-63.
It was a bit of a nightmare - roads closed (M8 for several days) - forth road bridge shut for the first time due to snow - rail & air services shutdown for days at a time - school closures - supermarkets short of bread and milk - not to mention the postal disruption.

All in all I don't think we are able to cope any better or worse than in previous years - the services affected may be different but the impact I would say is overall the same.
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#20 User is offline   Dave K 

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Posted 27 December 2012 - 18:04

Not sure if this has been recently put online or I'm the first here to discover it

Snow Survey of Great Britain - Season 1962-63

http://www.metoffice...in__1962-63.pdf

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