March madness

  • A scene of wintry March weather during 2010. Motorists return to their cars after they were abandoned in snowdrifts on the Glenshane Pass near Londonderry, after heavy snow and winds caused overnight chaos in parts of Northern Ireland. Photo: Paul Faith/PA

    Modelled surface pressure over and around the British Isles at midday on Monday, showing the area of high pressure to the north-west, together with the low pressure to the south. This arrangement is drawing in the bitterly cold easterly winds.

    Forecast maximum daytime temperatures up to 18.00 on Monday, reflecting the cold blast that is set to hit the British Isles.

  • March madness
    09.03.2013 15:10


    Following our brief dalliance with “spring-like” weather during the first few days of March, the UK has been swung back into a wintry state, with cold conditions and falls of snow forecast for the coming days. Whilst many of us may be expecting a shift towards azure skies, sunny spells and pleasantly mild breezes, it is far from uncommon for further blasts of wintry weather to dash spring-time hopes in March. In fact, snow is more likely to fall in this month than in November. Let’s take a look back at some historic wintry March weather, with help from The Weather of Britain by Robin Stirling…


    March 1891 

    South-west England experienced a historic storm caused by a depression tracking up from the Bay of Biscay, bringing heavy snowfall and blizzard conditions. Dartmoor saw up to 1.5m of snow, with an average depth of 60cm across Devon and Cornwall in general.

    March 1916

    A month-long blizzard battered Wear Head in Durham, with up to 3m of snow reported.

    4 March 1947

    An exceptionally cold day with mercury plunging to a bone-chilling -21C in Houghall near DurhamElsewhere, Exmoor was pummelled with snow continuously over a 36-hour period from the 4-5 March.

    The winter of 1946-47 was notably snowy in general, with 40cm of snow on the ground in Birmingham as late as 10 March, whilst villages in eastern Scotland became isolated after mighty drifts piled snow as high as 8m.

    29 March 1952

    Temperatures along the south coast of England failed to exceed freezing point, one of the latest times in the year for sub-zero maxima in the south.

    14 March 1958

    Another exceedingly cold day, this time breaking the lowest March temperature on record with -23C in Logie Coldstone, which is yet to be exceeded. Plummeting temperatures at this Grampian site were aided by the deep layer of snow covering the ground, which prevented any warming effect from the earth below.

    16-21 March 1979

    A depression tracked slowly northwards across the UK, dumping over 30cm of snow in the West Midlands, followed by disruptive snow drifts in Northumberland and Durham. The snow then blanketed parts of Scotland, with an impressive 15cm falling in Fife in only four hours.


    Sea surface temperatures around the British Isles reach their lowest level in March. In addition, the frequency of northerly and easterly winds is higher in March than during the winter months, which can cause an influx of very cold air. It is this combination of cold seas and colder air from the east which is bringing our current run of wintry March weather.

    So, we may take some comfort in the fact that this March is not exceptional, and that less cold conditions are expected to return towards the end of next week.

    By: Laura Caldwell