Heavy snow in England 25 years ago

  • Synoptic situation on February 1991 during the cold spell. Credit: Met-Office.

    Richmond, London.

    Richmond Park, London

  • Heavy snow in England 25 years ago
    07.02.2016 17:04

    A cold spell exactly 25 years ago brought heavy snow to eastern and central England. Notably, central London had 20cm of snow on the 8th with much deeper snow on the Pennines and in eastern England -parts of Yorkshire recorded 51cm. Temperatures remained below zero in these areas continuously between the 6th and 9th and maximum  temperatures were between -3 and -5C. What caused this situation?

    A bitterly cold easterly airflow was established for several days with an intense high pressure system over Scandinavia and a low pressure system initially over northern Spain, moving eastwards in the next days.  Then a low pressure system started to develop near the English Channel with an active cold front over south-east England slowly moving westwards. The feature was initiated by a “cold pool” of air several kilometres above the ground. This formed in Polar continental air that had its origins over Russia three to four days previously.

    During the night of the 7th the snow became heavy and persistent in London, bringing 20 cm in central London and 25cm in boroughs such as Croydon and Bromley, the deepest snow since winter of 1962-1963. This brought the rail network into chaos, Heathrow was forced to cancel flights and Gatwick and Birmingham airports were closed. On the 8th of February, the snow was lighter and started to ease. However, the cold spell and the snow lasted for several days.

    The heavy snow then drifted northwards towards eastern Scotland but snow showers continued for a while with severe frost overnight and lows of -9C in The Midlands and even Central London had a low of -7C over snow cover.

    Link to video with the forecast for this weather event.

    By: Mario Cuellar