The winter's frigid start

  • The winter's frigid start
    10.12.2010 14:07

    The extremely cold end to autumn and start of winter now has some figures attached to it.

    One of the most useful climatological yardsticks is the Central England Temperature (CET), which represents the average temperature of the Midlands.

    It is so useful for comparison purposes because its records stretch back to 1659, making it the longest unbroken series of monthly temperature observations anywhere in the world. This is in large part due to the tireless efforts of Professor Gordon Manley in the 1950s, and more recent work separately by the climatologist Philip Eden and the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research.

    The figures reveal a CET of -1.9 degrees Celsius for the first week of winter, 1 to 7 December 2010, making it the coldest opening week since 1879.

    Given that the temporary milder interlude this weekend will quickly be chased away by a return of severe cold through next week, it is possible that the month as a whole will rank close to some of the coldest Decembers on record.

    The coldest month ever by CET was January 1795, with a mean temperature of -3.1 degrees Celsius.

    By: Stephen Davenport