The UK Winter of 1993/94
This month started off relatively mild which was dominated by South Westerly winds with much of the rainfall off to the North West of the corner and the South East remaining dry. However by the middle of the month, a large Anticylconic high pressure formed over Scandinavia and although still very early in the season, the mainland of central Europe was already cold. This of course spread in colder air across the whole country by Thu 18th with a few light sleet and showers on Eastward facing coasts. There were also some severe frosts at night with night time minima falling back to minus 10 centigrade in a few places.
Over the weekend of 20th/21st, the Easterly winds became a bit more prominent and hence allowed for more moisture to be picked up off the North Sea and to drive showers into Eastern coasts. With temperatures close to freezing many of these showers fell as snow and did give some moderate coverings in a few places. Some of these showers penetrated well inland on Mon 22nd to give a more widespread but temporary covering giving some travel disruption.
Although the amounts of snow were not particularly significant, it was the first November since 1980 that snow had fallen and settled in Southern areas. The cold weather was eventually pushed out the way by the end of that week to allow the milder Atlantic Westerly winds to return where they remained until the end of the month.
Most of this month was mild if not very mild but the colder weather arrived just in time for Christmas as cooler North Westerly followed by Northerly winds pushed behind a cold front sinking South Eastwards on Fri 24th (Christmas Eve). There was a little bit of wet snow precipitation before the front cleared away but did not leave anything in the ground. Cold frosty air lead us into Christmas Day.
However in the South West approaches, another front was approaching from Western areas and as in entranced in the colder air across the country, the precipitation turned to sleet and wet snow. This was not particularly significant except that its timing was that it fell in the early hours of Christmas Day giving a covering of wet snow away from coastal areas in Devon, Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire. These areas were officially declared a white Christmas by the bookies although the snow had all thawed out by late morning.
What was more significant was a plume of cold air established itself across the country over the Christmas weekend as a further frontal system pushed in from the West on the night of 25th/26th which predominantly gave sleet and snow to the higher ground in the Western half of the country (see BBC Weather Forecast from Peter Cockroft on YouTube - ).
Mon 27th continued to be a very cold day with snow showers continuing to feed down the Eastern coast but on its way from the West was another active frontal system that would finally bring this brief wintry spell to an end.
On Tues 28th, this occluded front pushed in from the West during the early hours given predominantly heavy rain to Western areas. However as it came up against the colder air across Eastern areas, it rapidly turned to snow on its leading edge. It had originally been forecast that snow would only fall from the Midlands Northwards but heavy snow fell as far South as London and many Eastern areas had a good covering from about 2 inches in Hertfordshire and Essex to as much as 6 inches in Scotland. As the occluded front cleared away during the afternoon, the precipitation turned to rain on its back edge and temperature climbed to about 4 centigrade. The next system pushed in that evening and this predominantly fell as rain except for some Northern areas which again had a brief period of wet snow.
This month was predominantly a Westerly month with some very active and deep depressions crossing the country and occasional thunderstorms in the heavy showers that crossed. However there was one major snow event at the start of the month across South East England that surprising came from a low pressure moving North Eastwards across Central Southern England.
The day of Thu 6th had been a very mild day with temperatures widely climbing to 10 centigrade in Southern areas but it had been a sunny day with North Westerly winds so a frost was on the cards that night. Lurking just off the West of the channel islands, there were a weakness and disturbance in the atmosphere that formed a shallow low pressure. During the afternoon, this progressed rapidly North Eastwards hitting the South coast at the Isle of Wight. It gave some heavy rain to these areas but as the temperature was falling elsewhere across the country, the cold frosty air was sucked into this weakness and rapidly turned the rain to snow as it moved across Hampshire and Surrey. The timing of this coincided with the evening rush hour as it approached North West London where much of the precipitation was falling as heavy snow. The usual travel chaos ensued on the M4, M25 and the M40 but by now the intensity of the precipitation was increased further. As this small depression approached Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire, the travel chaos spread to this area and approximately 7 inches of snow was reported in many areas affected by this system. On the South Eastern side of this small depression, Southerly winds continued and hence there was no cold air so these areas had heavy rain instead of snow across East Sussex, Kent and Essex. However the cold did manage to penetrate through to these areas and the rain did eventually turn to snow but it only gave an inch or two at the most before clearing away from the Norfolk coast at around midnight. A severe frost followed that night.
In this particular snow event, weather forecasters were caught out by the speed at which this group of showers became entangled with cold air and cause widespread travel problems, even though temperatures had been at around 10 centigrade earlier that day hence not the requirement for gritters.
The remainder of January remained mild and the short-lived cold spell of 6th Jan had disappeared by the weekend of the 8th/9th.
This month turned out to be a mixed month with it being very mild at the start and end but a significant cold spell mid month and some short-lived but some notable snow events.
The mild conditions prevailed until Sun 13th where an anticyclone formed over Scandinavia and fed some bitterly cold Easterly winds across the whole country by the early hours of Mon 14th. Temperatures in Eastern areas struggled to climb above freezing and snow showers fed in regularly through the day to give some moderate accumulations, even in the centre of London.
However almost as soon as this cold spell had started, a wintry breakdown was on its way. Overnight on Mon 14th/Tues 15th, a cold front formed in the English Channel and this was expected to intensify and moved North Eastwards right across the whole country during the following 24 hours. The cold spell had engulfed the whole country, even the Scilly Isles and as this front began its progress Northwards gave a good covering of snow here to, a very rare event indeed. Late on the 14th, it pushed into Cornwall and Devon and gave a good covering of about 2 to 4 inches but behind the cold front despite its name introduced some slightly less cold conditions. The snow did not fully turn back to rain as the cold air had virtually undercut the whole frontal system so there was another rare event in which a front clearing from the South cleared away as snow.
The front progressed rapidly across much of the UK reaching the North Midlands by daybreak and had just cleared away from a line from London to Bristol. In its wake, 4 to 8 inches of snow fell in most areas which was another occasion in which the whole country was under a blanket of snow although by the time it had reached Scotland, the snow in the South had thawed.
The temperatures behind the from climbed to about 3 or 4 centigrade which was just about sufficient to give a rapid thaw and many roads and rail networks were able to operate normally once the early clearance of snow had been completed.
Over the next week, the cold weather was never too far away and by the weekend, temperatures were falling away again to give daytime maxima just above freezing. However a secondary wintry breakdown following in the path of the first began to track Northwards across the country during the afternoon of Tues 22nd. Much of the precipitation South of the M4 on its leading edge fell as wet snow and did not settle but during the evening further North, the sub zero temperature were able to be established in advance of this approaching front. As the front arrived, heavy snow once again fell during the evening rush hour. The worst affected areas initially were across Essex, Hertfordshire through to Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire as 2 to 4 inches settled on the ground during the evening period. The milder air which was already established over Southern areas did not make any progress further Northwards overnight on Tues 22nd/Wed 23rd and snow depths had accumulated to about 4 to 6 inches.
However by daybreak on 23rd, the milder conditions did finally arrive and the snow quickly turned to rain as temperatures climbed to about 7 centigrade. As this system moved very slowly further North, it brought even more chaos especially across the whole of the Midlands where major routes such as the M1, M5, M6,M42 and A1 became passable with care. Heavy snow fell through much of the day before finally easing off. The front eventually weakened and fizzled out by the time it reached Northern areas and the milder conditions further South did eventually reach all areas by the weekend of 26th/27th.
This was the final clasp of wintry weather during this winter season although there was another period of snow that affected Eastern areas on Sun 10th April which was very short-lived.