January 1987 Southeast England snowfall
The January 1987 snowfall was a very heavy lake-effect type snow event that affected the areas of East Anglia, South-East England and London between 11 and 14 January and was the heaviest snowfall to fall in that part of the United Kingdom since the winter of 1981/82. Over 50 cm (20 inches) of snow fell in parts of Kent, Essex, London and Surrey, with the North Downs just east of Maidstone recording 75 cm (30 inches). Parts of West Cornwall also had heavy falls. Several towns were cut off due to the heavy snowfall including the Isle of Sheppey which needed airlifts during the height of the storm.
This was due to a high pressure system over Siberia that moved into Scandinavia which in turn dragged a strong easterly airflow and brought very cold temperatures across Europe and the United Kingdom. A low pressure system over Italy caused the airflow to drag the very cold air from Siberia to Western Europe and picked up further moisture from the North Sea which produced the heavy snowfall. This caused serious disruption of transport in the area including the cancellation of many train services and the closure of many roads and railway lines. Motoring organisations had to deal with more than 4000 car breakdowns and 500 schools were forced to close. The extreme cold even affected the chiming hammer of Big Ben and at Southend-on-Sea the sea froze over.
The cold spell lasted from the 7th to the 20th, and was probably the most intense of the twentieth century. Temperatures stayed well below freezing on many days. On the 12th, maximum temperatures were between -6°C and -8°C over much of England, with -9.1°C (16°F) the daily maximum at Warlingham. The lowest overnight temperature of -23.3°C (-9.9°F) was recorded at Caldecott, Rutland.
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