Winter of 2010–11 in Great Britain and Ireland
Snow falling in Sheffield; 1 December 2010
|Formed||24 November 2010|
|Lowest temperature||−21.3 °C (−6.3 °F) (2 December 2010, Altnaharra, Scotland)|
|Maximum snowfall or ice accretion||Total: 5 feet (1.5 m) (settled on ground) in Sheffield, Peak District, and Scottish Highlands|
|Areas affected||Britain and Ireland|
The winter of 2010–2011 was a weather event that brought heavy snowfalls, record low temperatures, travel chaos and school disruption to the islands of Britain and Ireland. It included the UK's coldest December since Met Office records began in 1910, with a mean temperature of -1 °C, breaking the previous record of 0.1 °C in December 1981. Also it was the second-coldest December in the narrower Central England Temperature (CET) record series which began in 1659, falling 0.1 °C short of the all-time record set in 1890.
The winter of 2010 in England saw the earliest widespread winter snowfall since 1993 with snow falling as early as 24 November across Northumberland and North Yorkshire. A maximum snow depth of 30 inches (76 cm) was recorded on 1 December in the Peak District, Sheffield, the Cotswold Hills and the Forest of Dean. In this event Scotland and Northern England were most severely affected. On 9 December temperatures recovered across much of the UK, causing a partial thaw.
Later, on Thursday 16 December a cold front reintroduced a cold, arctic airstream. This cold spell brought further snow and ice chaos back to the British Isles with Southern England, Wales, the Republic of Ireland (excluding the westerly coastal regions) and Northern Ireland bearing the brunt of the wintry conditions. This led to severe disruption to the road and rail network with several airports being closed including London Heathrow Airport for a time. Several local temperature records were broken including a new record low for Northern Ireland of -18.7 °C recorded at Castlederg on 23 December 2010.
By the new year a thaw had begun, and there was no recurrence of the extreme conditions for the remainder of the winter. There was some snowfall in early January, and there was an anticyclonic spell at the end of the month that brought some cold, frosty days. February was above average in temperature and ended on a mild note, although the snow returned in much of Scotland during March.
- 1 Background
- 2 Reported effects
- 3 Timeline
- 3.1 November 2010
- 3.2 December 2010
- 3.3 January 2011
- 3.4 February 2011
- 3.5 March 2011
- 4 Weather statistics and records
- 5 See also
- 6 References
During the latter part of November, northern blocking established over Greenland which resulted in the Jet Stream moving south, allowing cold air to flow in from the east. Forecasters warned of the potential for severe winter weather from weeks in advance and the Government stated that they were prepared for winter weather after the previous British winter of 2009–2010 caused havoc and widespread disruption. The cold weather arrived in Britain and Ireland on 22 November and by 24 November, snow showers brought by a stiff northerly wind fell over the North East of England and Northern and Eastern Scotland which resulted in 10–20 cm locally and gridlock in many of the major roads within Aberdeen during the evening rush hour of 24 November.
In the following days, the snowfall became far more widespread leading to widespread travel disruption, school closures and cancellation of sporting fixtures. The Met Office confirmed that it was the most widespread snowfall in the United Kingdom for 17 years. By 2 December, most of the United Kingdom and much of Ireland was covered with snow, accumulations in the north and east of Scotland and England were over 50 cm in places, with over one metre of snow lying on much of the Scottish mountains. Snow depths elsewhere were between 5 cm–30 cm widely. Temperatures fell widely below −10 °C with some areas staying sub-zero by day. On 2 December there was particularly low temperatures in major towns and cities, particularly in Scotland where it dropped to −18 °C in Aberdeen and on 3 December temperatures in England broke records. However, the lowest temperature of the winter of −21.2 °C was recorded at Altnaharra, Sutherland at 10 am on 2 December and Braemar and Kinbrace both dropped to −20 °C on the night of 2 December. As of 4 December 7 people have been confirmed to have died due to the cold weather.
- On 30 November in Newport, South Wales a man was found dead in the street—it was assumed that he froze to death after collapsing with a heart attack.
- Two old-age pensioners were found in the snow in their gardens dead from hypothermia at the beginning of December.
- On 2 December two teenage girls died in a car crash caused by ice on the A595 in Cumbria.
- On 6 December a 70-year-old man was found dead in the snow in a caravan park in Cleethorpes, and a man died trying to clear snow outside his home in Darlington, County Durham.
- There were several deaths on 18 December: a 17-year-old boy from Bilsington, Kent, was killed when his car left the road; two pedestrians died after being hit by a Range Rover in Glasgow; a woman in her 60s from the Inverness area, was killed in a three-vehicle pile-up in Huntly, Aberdeenshire; and a man in his early 30s suffered life-threatening injuries when his Mini was in a crash with a highways vehicle near Eastbourne, East Sussex, and died after an ambulance being driven by a police officer left a country road in poor weather conditions and careered into a bush on Standard Hill, in Ninfield.
- On 19 December there were several more deaths. A 33-year-old man died after falling through the ice on Doggetts Lake in Rochford, Essex; a road crash killed 16-year-old James Doran and Jordan Kenny when the car they were travelling in lost control on an icy road in Liverpool and ploughed into a garden wall; a 15-year-old girl died in a sledding accident in Douglas, County Cork, Ireland; and a 35-year-old woman and her 9-year-old son were killed in a car crash caused by ice and snow near Castlebellingham in County Louth, Ireland.
- On 22 December, a 48-year-old man died from hypothermia, after sleeping overnight in the Bible Gardens, behind the cathedral in Bangor, North Wales.
The severe cold spell came in the run up to Christmas and was estimated to cost the British economy up to £1.2 billion a day with a total cost of £13 billion. Retailers were particularly badly hit by lost sales with footfall down nearly 20% compared to the same period the previous year and as much as 30% in the West Midlands and South East. Some experts suggested that it may have a knock on effect in delaying or reversing economic growth. Christmas is usually the most profitable period for the pub and restaurant industry, however, due to disruptions to delivery routes, numerous stock outs and disappointing trading updates were reported.
Significant reduction in availability of transport
On 1 December the M1 motorway was temporarily closed, and the Forth Road Bridge was closed for over ten hours due to heavy snowfall. This was the first time the bridge had been closed because of snow. The same day, the A57 was closed in the evening between Anston and Worksop and over 100 motorists were stranded overnight. Thousands of motorists across Sheffield became stranded on 1–7 December as up to as much as 2 feet of snow fell on the city with severe disruption across the county of South Yorkshire including the suspension of all bus services for 24 hours. On 6 December, vehicles were trapped on the M8 for over 10 hours, and more than 1,000 vehicles became stuck on the M876.
Eurostar rail services to the continent were cancelled on 20 December causing severe delays with queues at St Pancras station stretching more than half a mile as far back as the British Library. At the same time. services were cancelled on the East Coast main line between London and Peterborough due to damage to overhead power cables caused by accretion of ice.
- At Newcastle Airport, a plane overshot its target stop position on the runway, but remaining on the hard surface. This caused the airport to be temporarily closed. No passengers were injured.
- Gatwick Airport and Edinburgh Airport were closed all day on 1 December due to heavy snow.
- 7,000 schools were closed on 2 December.
As the cold weather arrived in the United Kingdom and Ireland, forecasters warned of cold and snowy conditions arriving later in the week and persisting into much of the next. Each day, the temperature dropped and wintry showers began to arrive in some parts of the Highlands.
A snow storm had moved on from southern Sweden on the 22nd to dust both Northumberland and the Scottish Borders Region during the 23rd before being absorbed on the 24th into the main weather system that started advancing from Scandinavia on the 23rd. Light snow fell in Aberdeenshire, Northumberland, parts of Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire and Birmingham on those days as the first storms began to clear up on the 23rd.
Snow began to fall in the early evening on 24 November. Within an hour of the snow beginning to fall around 2 inches was recorded in Newcastle upon Tyne. Snow fell across northern and eastern parts of Scotland and England which caused disruption during the evening, particularly in Aberdeen. The Met Office issued many weather warnings and confirmed that the snowfall was the earliest widespread snowfall since 1993. A minimum temperature of -5.6 °C was recorded in Benson, Oxfordshire. The Met Office issued warnings for Northern Scotland, the Borders, North East England and Yorkshire and the Humber.
During the day, snow showers affected the North and North-East of Scotland and England. A minimum temperature of -7.0 °C was recorded in Woodford. Snow caused problems to the Grampian district and Borders forcing over 120 schools in Aberdeenshire to close. The Met Office issued further warning of snow to much of the eastern districts of Scotland. Roads closed due to the snow were the B974, the A939 at the Lecht, the A93 at the Cairnwell and the B976 Crathie to Gairnside.
On the 26th night time temperatures plummeted well below 0 °C, with the Welsh towns of Sennybridge and Trawscoed being among the coldest places at –10.2 °C. The village of Dalwhinnie in the Scottish Highlands saw the temperatures fall to –8.2 °C and Chesham in Buckinghamshire fell to -7 °C, and Preston in Lancashire recorded -5.8 °C. The cold snap heralded the earliest winter snow fall for 17 years.
A minimum temperature of -9.1 °C was recorded at Redesdale Camp, Northumberland. Ireland was hit by snowfall. Overnight, a front brought by a north easterly wind brought 5–10 cm of fresh snow to many parts of Scotland, with 10–15 cm in North East England. The AA dealt with an estimated 15,500 calls regarding breakdowns on the 26th.
The morning of Saturday 27 November saw Ireland freezing in what could be a rather costly cold snap as it emerged that the extreme weather earlier this year cost a colossal €297 million in insurance payouts due to the snow causing damage was also caused to homes and other buildings all over the country. The Irish Insurance Federation revealed there were 22,450 claims from the public, the vast majority of which involved snow or ice damage to people's homes. The DART and the northern commuter and Maynooth commuter lines were not running and Belfast and Rosslare train services out of Dublin were also affected. The main runway at Dublin Airport due to snow and ice for most of the day. The extreme weather was reminiscent of the winter storms of 2009–2010, which were the worst in recent Irish history.
The Met Office severe weather warnings remained in place across much of the UK, with Scotland and North East England predicted to have the heaviest snowfalls, with new warnings are also in place for icy roads in Northern Ireland and Wales as forecasters reckon it could remain cold and snowy for up to 2 weeks. Some FA Cup second round football matches, could be affected with Saturday horse racing at Newcastle upon Tyne the first to be called off. Snow was causing problems on the M6 through Staffordshire so gritters were out in force as temperatures dipped to -3 °C (27 °F).
By the middle of the 27th up to 1.5 inches of snow fell in parts of Staffordshire overnight while residents in the Black Country also woke up to a covering today with warnings of way with blizzards expected in the region with a predicted snow fall of 8 inches over the next few days. Snow was causing problems on the M6 through Staffordshire so gritters were out in force as temperatures dipped to -3 °C (27 °F). The Met Office warned that most of the snowfall during last night was in Staffordshire, but with showers in the West Midlands and Shropshire at around dawn.
By the afternoon the AA had faced a 40% rise on a normal Saturday in November, a spokesman said. The worst affected areas were around Newcastle upon Tyne, Mid Wales, North Wales, Norwich, Leeds and Bradford. Motorists in Wales and Northern Ireland struggled with icy roads while Scotland was facing more heavy snow and drifts thanks to a biting wind.
The Met Office warned of icy roads in Greater London and the South East, the South West, the East Midlands, Yorkshire and Humber and North East England. North East England, Yorkshire and the Humber, the East Midlands and the South West were also braced for heavy snow. About 10 inches of snow was expected over the higher parts of the country, with a light dusting in Greater London and lower lying parts of the English Midlands. They reckoned that the cold snap would continue, with snow blanketing swathes of the country by the middle of this week. A minimum of -10.2 °C at Trawsgoed, Wales was recorded. Further snow showers gave additional accumulations in the North and East.
Ocado online supermarket had seen a surge in demand for de-icer with sales while the cold weather had also brought a 42% increase in sales of cough medicine. Tesco had also seen a rise in the sales of de-icer and table salt.
The CET (Central England Temperature) mean of -4.0 °C was of note on this day, due to it being the lowest November CET mean since -4.6 °C was recorded on 24 November 1904. The lowest temperature of the month was also recorded today, of -17.5 °C at Llysdinam, Wales. Heavy wet snow affected Southern and Eastern Scotland widely giving 10–20 cm, but 20–30 cm in places. Thundersnow was reported around Dundee.
Minimum of -16.1 °C at Altnaharra, Scottish Highlands. The Met Office at RAF Linton-on-Ouse in North Yorkshire recorded a record low for November of -11.2 °C; earlier that month on the 4th it had recorded a record maximum for November of 17.6 °C. The heavy wet snow which had been affecting Scotland the day before gave thundersnow to North East England, and further accumulations of 10–15 cm. Accumulations widely exceeded a foot across Southern and Eastern Scotland and North East England by this point.
Minimum of -15.0 °C at Altnaharra, Scottish Highlands. After a dry night snow showers returned to the North and East. North West England, most notably Greater Manchester and parts of West Yorkshire had their first snowfall of the winter overnight which caused many disruptions.
According to the Manley Central England Temperature record (beginning in 1659), the second-coldest December ever recorded in central England. Also the coldest December in the UK since UK records began in 1890, and the coldest December in Ireland since official records began.
A minimum of -21.1 °C was recorded at Altnaharra, Scottish Highlands. A band of snow moving north affected Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, South and West Yorkshire, giving significant accumulations here, with further frequent heavy snow showers to North East England and Eastern Scotland. Up to 40 cm of snow was recorded in Rotherham and Sheffield, 20 cm of fresh snow in Mansfield (bringing total depths to over 30 cm), 20 to 30 cm in Leeds, 30 cm in Pontefract and up to 40 cm in parts of Lincolnshire.
During the night of 1–2 December an extremely heavy belt of snow affected Southern England. Heavy and persistent snow started falling on the South Coast at around 8pm and on the morning of 2 December there were large snow depths reported widely all across East and West Sussex and parts of Kent, Surrey, Gloucestershire and Hampshire. Snow Depths:
Meopham: 45 cm (18 in)
Brighton: 32 cm (13 in)
South Downs: 60 cm (24 in)
Burgess Hill: 35 cm (14 in)
Crawley: 30 cm (12 in)
Horsham: 35 cm (14 in)
Drybrook: 56 cm (22 in)
Redhill: 25 cm (10 in)*
Epsom: 33 cm (13 in)*
Kenley: 37 cm (15 in)*
Selsdon: 36 cm (14 in)*
Southampton: 20 cm (8 in)
Petersfield: 25 cm (10 in)
- * - Total from 30 November to 2 December
Snow also affected Lincolnshire and Yorkshire, with accumulations locally reaching 30–40 cm (12–16 in). Level snow depths of up to 70 cm (28 in) were reported in places in Scotland, with 71 cm (28 in) at Bathgate, West Lothian.
Heavy snowfall in the Central Belt in Scotland led to the closure of the M8 motorway for two days with hundreds of motorists stranded overnight. The resulting political furore led to the resignation of Scottish Minister for Transport, Stewart Stevenson.
Milder north westerly winds initiated a rapid thaw; this was to be a sudden end to a dramatic cold spell for most until cold conditions returned later in the month.
From late evening, a cold front reached the Shetland Isles and moved southwards across Scotland overnight. Mild air preceded the front, with cold air straight from the Arctic following it, resulting in some rapid temperature drops throughout Scotland and its Isles overnight. An unofficial temperature of 11.6 °C, the highest of the month so far, was recorded near Lairg, Scottish Highlands at around 7pm in the milder air.
The cold front continued to move southwards across the UK passing Northern Ireland and Northern England during the morning and into midday, and reaching central and then southern parts of the UK during the afternoon and into the evening. However, relatively little snow actually settled across most of the UK, due to the short-lived nature of the snow showers associated with the front. Areas of Northern Scotland in particular did receive upwards of 30 cm of snow during the day, resulting in many school closures and disruption to transport.
The Met Office issued an extreme weather warning for Northern Ireland and North Wales as very heavy snow showers brought by a northerly wind made conditions dangerous and dumped over 30 cm of snow in many places. Heavy snow began to fall in Devon and approximately 8 cm of heavy snow also fell in Manchester.
Following overnight snow showers, a band of snow organised itself over the West Midlands during the day, resulting in 10–15 cm (4–6 inches) lying in a wide area from Shropshire to around Coventry, and south into Warwickshire and parts of Worcestershire and Gloucestershire. 20 cm (8 inches) was reported from higher ground south of Birmingham. The M5 was gridlocked, and shops in the Birmingham area closed early on the last Saturday before Christmas. A number of passengers travelling by coach had to spend the night at Birmingham Coach Station due too not only coaches for onwards destinations being unable to depart and arrive Birmingham, but also widespread disruption to train services making onwards alternatives impossible.
Snow also fell to the southeast, including London and Oxfordshire, with Heathrow Airport closing its runways for a time leading to long delays. On one of the busiest Christmas shopping days of the season, Brent Cross Shopping Centre was closed. Overnight, temperatures plunged to as low as -8 °C in parts of South East England and Greater London.
A minimum temperature of -19.6 °C was recorded in Shawbury, Shropshire. Heathrow airport continued to be affected with only 20 flights from a scheduled 1300 taking off. Heavy snow affected North East England, with 10–15 cm in south Northumberland.
A minimum temperature of -17.6 °C was recorded at Castlederg, a new record for Northern Ireland and -19.6 °C was recorded at Chesham, Buckinghamshire. Heavy snow fall was also reported over large parts of Devon causing major travel disruption.
Dublin Airport and City of Derry Airport were forced to fully close, 15 cm (6 inches) of snow was recorded at Dublin Airport. The band of snow dumped several more centimeters over an area stretching from North Wales, through parts of Cheshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire and into the West Midlands by the morning of the 22nd.
Only three days after breaking the record minimum for Northern Ireland, Castlederg broke the record again with a low of -18.7 °C. Meanwhile, further snow showers affected North East England, but fresh accumulations only reached around 5 cm.
On the 24th, it was decided to cancel the 27th IRFU's Celtic League meeting with Leinster as Ulster's Ravenhill pitch froze under heavy snow. Both northern and southern Ireland were under heavy snow. Bitterly cold with thick snow fall in many places, and scattered, mainly light snow showers in the North and East. Later in the day, a band of more persistent and heavy snow reached northern and western Scotland, resulting in further accumulations of several cm of snow. 63 cm of lying snow was reported at Braemar, Aberdeenshire.
Snow fell in many parts of Scotland giving the country two consecutive White Christmases. Venus well elongated as a morning star provided a bright Christmas star. It was also the coldest Christmas Day, with a CET of -5.9 °C, since Christmas Day 1830.
The Republic of Ireland's lowest-ever December temperature on record was recorded on this date. The mercury plummeted to -17.5 °C at Straide, County Mayo.
Thousands of homes and businesses in Northern Ireland and Wales were without water as melting snow and ice revealed many burst pipes. Northern Ireland Water said it was alternating supplies from reservoirs in order to help alleviate the crisis in which some properties had been without supplies since before Christmas.
January again was colder than average across the UK, though much milder than December, with a mean temperature across the UK of 3.1 °C. In contrast to December, it was dry across most of the country (except South East England which was wetter than average). It had more frost than average across most of the UK. However, freezing rain caused disruption in Shropshire, and Greater Manchester experienced heavy overnight snow which affected travel on the morning of the 4th. and snow fell in the West Midlands and parts of Wales, Cheshire and Lancashire on 7 January.
Welsh flood warnings stay in place in four areas, with roads closed after heavy bursts of rain affecting Conwy and Gwynedd. By 15.55 GMT, there were four flood warnings and six flood alerts 16 January 2011.
February was a mild month (the 9th mildest in the last 100 years) with very little frost and much of the country having its first snow-free February since 1998. The only significant wintry weather came on the 18th-21st when some overnight dustings of snow fell as far south as the Midlands.
Heavy snow once again started to cover parts of Scotland, affecting travel from 9 March, with fresh snowfalls bringing more travel disruption on 12 March. Persistent snow affected much of the Highlands of Scotland during the 12th-13th of the month, with reports of 40 cm of lying snow near Fort William and 60 cm of lying snow to the north of Aviemore, with severe drifting.
Weather statistics and records
In the UK it was the coldest December ever, since Met Office records began in 1910, with a mean temperature of -1 °C. It broke the previous record of 0.1 °C in December 1981.
December 2010 has the lowest CET, -0.7 °C, since a CET of -1.1 °C was recorded for February 1986. December 2010 can also be confirmed to be the coldest December for 120 years, since a monthly CET of -0.8 °C was recorded for December 1890 and the second-coldest December since records began in 1659. Probably the most notable record of the winter is the new all-time record low for Northern Ireland, of -18.7 °C recorded on 23 December at Castlederg, County Tyrone. In addition, all of these sites recorded their all-time record lows since recording began, this winter:
- Andrewsfield at -13.8 °C on 20 December
- Aultbea at -8.5 °C on 18 December
- Ballykelly at -13.3 °C on 23 December
- Belfast Aldergrove Airport at -14.9 °C on 21 December
- Capel Curig at -17.5 °C on 20 December
- Carlisle lowest maximum of -7.9 °C on 8 December
- Church Fenton at -17.5 °C on 3 December
- Cranfield at -12 °C on 20 December
- Crosby at -17.6 °C on 21 December
- Dishforth at -15 °C on 6 December
- Dunkeswell Aerodrome at -9.2 °C on 19 December
- Exeter Airport at -16.5 °C on 26 December
- Farnborough at -14.2 °C on 20 December
- Gravesend-Broadness at -10.5 °C on 20 December
- Hawarden at -12.6 °C on 20 December
- Hereford Credenhill at -15.8 °C on 26 December
- Holbeach at -9.8 °C on 7 December
- Humberside at -14 °C on 7 December
- RAF Leeming at -17.9 °C on 3 December
- Linton-on-Ouse at -17.3 °C on 3 December
- Redesdale Camp at -19.2 °C on 3 December
- RAF Scampton at -13.6 °C on 3 December
- Strathallan at -19 °C on 3 December
- RAF Topcliffe at -19.0 °C on 3 December
- Warcop at -11.7 °C on 21 December
- January 2013 Great Britain and Ireland snowfall
- Carmen (storm)
- Winter of 2010–2011 in Europe
- 2010 Albania floods
- 2010 West African floods
- 2010 Central European floods
- 2010 Var floods
- 2010 Northern Hemisphere summer heat wave
- Arctic dipole anomaly
- Arctic oscillation
- Flood control in the Netherlands
- Gulf Stream
- Muddy flood
- Winter storm
- Xynthia (storm)
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