Coldest Temperatures in UK - Ready with the Ice Grips
As the days shorten and everyone wonders what nature has up her sleeve this winter, it's interesting to look back at some of the highs and LOWS of previous years...
Probably the most notable wintry spell in living memory was the winter of 1963. It was one of the coldest on record and the coldest since 1740. Temperatures consistently reached lower than - 20 °C with blizzards, snow drifts and even the sea freezing around the coast. This fascinating image is of Coal barges frozen on the River Medway 1963
The severe cold began just before Christmas in 1962 as a high pressure system sat to the north east of the UK for much of the winter dragging cold polar winds over the UK.
On 29 and 30 December, a blizzard struck the UK with snowdrifts up to 6 metres deep. Snow continued to fall frequently and until early-March 1963, much of the UK remained covered in snow. This writer can remember making amazing snow dens in the drifts up the side of his house in Sheffield
Despite the lengthy cold spell of 1963 there have been short, harsh spells of winter weather and here are the lowest temperatures recorded in separate cold spells since 1960...
Position by Temp + Date + Weather Station + Area + Temperature
1...10 January 1982, Braemar, East Scotland -27.2 °C
1...30 December 1995, Altnaharra No 2, North Scotland -27.2 °C
3...13 December 1981, Shawbury, Midlands -25.2 °C
4...13 January 1979, Carnwath, West Scotland -24.6 °C
5...20 January 1984, Grantown-On-Spey, East Scotland -23.6 °C
6...27 January 1985, Lagganlia, North Scotland -23.4 °C
7...13 January 1987, Caldecott P Sta, Midlands -23.3 °C
8...08 January 2010, Altnaharra No 2, North Scotland -22.3 °C
9...18 February 1960, Grantown-On-Spey, East Scotland -22.2 °C
9...30 December 1961, Cannich, North Scotland -22.2 °C
9...18 January 1963, Braemar East, Scotland -22.2 °C
This complex interplay of systems makes UK weather so variable and changeable at short notice. The conclusion is that we need to be prepared for both mild and harsh winters, as we don't know when they will be. Unlike this satellite image of the UK from 2009, freezing weather can even be localised to a small area of the country!
The UK has a Maritime Climate with coastal areas affected by ocean currents. The west coast of Britain is kept warmer in winter than other places of a similar latitude because of the impact of the North Atlantic Drift. This current of warm water originates in the Gulf of Mexico. Additionally, the prevailing winds of the UK are from the south-west, from the Atlantic Ocean. Prevailing winds travelling over warm surfaces bring with them warm weather and so the prevailing winds bring with them cool temperatures in summer, but milder weather in winter.
At the same time, being an island, the UK is affected by five air masses at different times. The Arctic Maritime air mass comes from the North and Arctic and the Polar Continental air mass comes from the East, both bringing cold air and snow.
This graphic shows just how much protection the North Atlantic Drift (more commonly referred to as the Gulf Stream) gives the UK. Without it the UK would experience the bone chilling winters of Northern USA and Canada.
ICEGRIPPER Boots are not just any old snow boots - all of them have some ice gripping function provided by various methods. It doesn't need a severe winter such as 1963 to justify buying them either. The boots shown here: NEOS Navigator STABILicers, Slip Resistant Waterproof Overshoes, can be used in winter, spring and autumn, in a variety of circumstances, as they are windproof, waterproof and extremely tough.