Wednesday, 10 February 2010

So how bad has the winter been?

Days are still chilly, and there was even a flurry of snow early this afternoon. However, the push from winter to spring is well under way.

For statistical purposes, winter covers the 3 calendar months of December, January and February. In this area, December was the 29th coldest since 1900, but in recent years the Decembers of 2002, 1997 and 1996 were colder. January was slightly more interesting. It rated as the 12th coldest since 1900, with colder Januaries occurring back in 1987, 1985 and 1979.

A third consecutive winter month with temperatures significantly below average is quite rare. The last occasion this occurred was during the memorable winter of 1962/3. In more recent years, the winter of 1984/5 was the 10th coldest since 1900 despite a relatively mild December. Similarly, December 1978 was not cold overall, and the winter of 1978/9 was only rated 7th coldest.

Although this current February is only ranked 50th coldest at the moment, it does look as if this figure will rise towards the top 20 over the next few days. However, the trend to milder weather later in the month is apparent from some forecast charts. If, therefore, the mean temperature at the end of the month is similar to the current value (4.9 Celsius), This February will have been the coldest since 1996 and the winter will have been the coldest since 1990/1. However, if this February is cold enough to rise to 20th, it will have been the coldest February since 1991, the 9th coldest winter since 1900, and making it the coldest winter since Jim Callaghan's 'Winter of Discontent'......1978/9.

We await with interest!