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January 1947 February 1947 March 1947 Summary
As a 70 year-old, I have held back from mailing "lengthy" contributions to this group as I have felt myself totally unsuited in my ability to add anything of deep scientific value. Though I have been extensively involved with both "climate" and the Met. Office on a co- operating basis since 1946, I have never been involved "professionally" and have thus considered myself something of an outsider to the group when judged against other "luminaries" who regularly contribute mailings of considerable merit to it. However, in view of some recent postings I feel that perhaps I can contribute a little of interest on what, to me, was an event, which like all who lived through it, I will never forget: the winter of 1947. I was at the time only 16 and still at school, so I do ask all readers to bear this in mind when evaluating what eventually appears in these articles since all of the data used in them was compiled by me at the time. My site, though at the time only supplying rainfall data to the Met. Office, was a fully acceptable one regarding exposure, though the instruments were not of standard Met. Office issue with the exception of the gauge. Since the winter of 1947 was both long and full of incidents, I will be forwarding my comments in four parts dealing with the months of January, February and March, plus a summary of the full winter. I hope that this will fill in for some of you who, through the vagaries of Nature, have never seen a really hard winter with its many events of interest. I still remember the awe that this period instilled in me as a teenager, just through the war years with much rationing still in place, austerity measures in full swing, and a coal shortage and rail-strike thrown in for good measure! And so, the opening gambit will be the month of January. January 1947 January 1947 began fairly mild and wet, the first five days seeing 17.1mm of rain, the heaviest being on the 5th by which time cooler air had begun to encroach from the Continent with a SE wind gusting no higher than 14 knots. This cooler air brought a heavy fall of snow early on the 6th giving an accumulated depth of 5cm of level snow at 09 hr. This was added to during the day and overnight with 9cm lying by dawn on the 7th, the daytime maximum on the 6th having risen no higher than -1.1C with an overnight air minimum of -3.3C and a snow- surface minimum of -6.7C. During the 7th the snow turned to sleet then rain, though snow still continued to lie until the morning of the 9th by which time it was very patchy. The weather then turned much milder under mainly westerly winds, with rain on most days until the 17th when it became fine and sunny. The 16th saw 5.7 hours of sunshine and the 17th 6.1 hours, daytime maximum temperatures reaching 12.8C on the 16th. The 18th saw a return to cooler conditions with a maximum of 8.9C though it was not until the 20th that night frosts again set in with a minimum of -2.2C. By the 22nd much colder NE winds brought in frequent snow showers leading to a full snow cover of 2.5cm by 09hr on the 23rd. Daytime maxima rose no higher than 0.6C on both the 23rd and 24th with snow-surface minima of -5.0C and -6.7C. Further heavy snow showers occurred on the 25th and 26th bringing the level snow cover to 13.5cm by 09hr on the 27th. Heavy snowfall continued on the 27th and 28th, the winds gusting to 28 knots causing widespread drifting up to depths of 6ft in many rural areas. In addition persistent frost then set in with daytime maxima of -1.1C on the 26th, 27th and 28th and as low as -5.6C on the 29th by which time the level snow lay 18cm deep. The gusting SE'ly winds piled up even deeper drifts, many of the minor roads becoming almost impassable. Overnight temperatures fell as low as - 10.0C in the air on the 28th with a snow-surface minimum of -11.7C on the 29th and -13.3C on the 30th. Further continuous snow occurred on the 31st though the daytime maximum was -0.6C with a night minimum of - 7.2C. By the end of the month level snow lay 14cm deep with drifts of up to 8 feet in isolated and open areas. In summary, 16 days had snow, 4 had sleet, and snow lay on 13 days to a maximum level depth of 18cm and drifts of up to 8 feet. Air frost occurred on 13 days with ground frost on 24, precipitation in one form or another occurring on 22days. Sunshine totalled 46 hours with 13 days totally sunless, and "rainfall" 70.2mm. Winds were predominantly SE'ly on 14 occasions with a maximum gust to 43 knots on the 12th. The maximum air temperature was 12.8C on the 16th with a minimum of -10.0C on the 28th. The coldest day was the 29th with -5.6C and the warmest night the 16th with 8.9C. The mean maximum temperature was 4.0C, the mean minimum -1.3C and the mean daily 1.3C. Thus ended January 1947, the start of what was to be a memorable and extremely trying spell of severe winter weather