It has been a cold and wet first half of February for many of us however there have been a few isolated milder days and plenty of sunshine between the bands of rain.
It’s been rather unsettled, with most of England, Wales, Northern Ireland and south-western fringes of Scotland having already had more than half of their full-month average rainfall, with a few places getting close to the average rainfall for the whole month such as Suffolk with 77%, Anglesey with 79%, Antrim 86%, Armagh 83% and Wigtownshire 101%. Elsewhere some other parts of Scotland have been drier than average such Fife with 30% of rainfall, Clackmannanshire 28% and Orkney 29%.
|February 1 – 15||Precipitation||Sunshine|
|Actual mm||Anomaly % (81-10)||Actual hrs||Anomaly % (81-10)|
Although it has been colder than average so far this month, with temperatures a degree or more below average in most areas, there have been no exceptionally low temperatures anywhere, the lowest being -11.0 °C at Bewcastle, Cumbria, on the morning of February 7th.
Cold Februaries have not been common in the last 20 years – with 2013 having been rather colder than average in south-eastern areas, and 2010 having been rather cold more widely and especially in the north. The years 1996, 1994 and 1991 were also cold, as was February 1986.
|February 1 -15||Maximum temperature||Minimum temperature|
|Actual degC||Anomaly degC (81-10)||Actual degC||Anomaly degC (81-10)|
Blizzards devastated the South West 40 years ago
It is the 40th anniversary of the start of what was one of the worst blizzards to have affected the United Kingdom in the last 100 years. It affected South West England and south Wales for five days from 15th to 19th February 1978 before milder weather edged in bringing a general thaw.
The cold air initially moved into the UK from the east around the 7th, and was further enhanced by a cold pool of air moving in from central Europe between the 10th and 14th .
The weather set up, with a huge contrast in air-masses either side of a weather front, led to considerable snowfall for the South West on the 15th and 16th and this was followed on the 18th and 19th by an unusually severe blizzard which extended to south Wales.
Snow accumulated to depths of about 60cm in places on Dartmoor and Exmoor and to 85cm at Nettlecombe (Bird’s Hill) in Somerset, but drifts of at least 6m were reported over a wide area which included Dorset and Wiltshire.
The exceptional weather cut communications and caused severe hardship, and although milder weather soon reached the south-west, several towns and villages were isolated by snowdrifts for some days and it was reported that there was still snow on the ground in early July.
Snow depths at 9am on 20th February:
Devon, Somerset, and Devon
85cm Nettlecombe, Birds Hill
60cm Princetown Prison
39cm Bovey Tracey Yarner Wood
40cm Winfrith (near Dorchester)