Friday, December 21, 2012

Significant Winters

In the bleak midwinter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter,
Long ago.

Christina Rossetti.
(A Christmas Carol)

1310–1330, many severe winters and cold, wet summers in Europe – the first clear manifestation of the unpredictable weather of the Little Ice Age that lasted for several centuries (from about 1300 to 1900). The persistently cold, wet weather caused great hardship, was primarily responsible for the Great Famine of 1315-1317, and strongly contributed to the weakened immunity and malnutrition leading up to the Black Death (1348–1350).

 1600-1602, extremely cold winters in Switzerland and Baltic region after eruption of Huaynaputine in Peru in 1600.
1607-1608, in North America, ice persisted on Lake Superior until June. Londoners held their first frost fair on the frozen-over River Thames.
1622, in Turkey, the Golden Horn and southern section of Bosphorus froze over.
1683-1684, "The Great Frost", when the Thames, hosting one of many River Thames frost fairs, was frozen all the way up to the London Bridge and remained frozen for about two months. Ice was about 27 cm (11 in) thick in London and about 120 cm (47 in) thick in Somerset. The sea froze up to 2 miles (3.2 km) out around the coast of the southern North Sea, causing severe problems for shipping and preventing use of many harbors.
1690s, extremely cold, snowy, severe winters. Ice surrounded Iceland for miles in every direction.


1739-1740, one of the most severe winters in the UK on record. The Thames remained frozen-over for about 8 weeks. The Irish Famine of 1740–1741 claimed the lives of at least 300,000 people
1779-1780, Scotland's coldest winter on record, and ice surrounded Iceland in every direction (like in the 1690s). In the USA, a record five-week cold spell bottomed out at −20 °F (−29 °C) at Hartford, Connecticut, and −16 °F (−27 °C) in New York City. Hudson River and New York's harbor froze over.
1783-1786, the Thames partially froze, and snow remained on the ground for months. In February 1784, the North Carolina was frozen in Chesapeake Bay.
1794-1795, severe winter, with the coldest January in the UK and lowest temperature ever recorded in London: −21 °C (−6 °F) on 25 January. The cold began on Christmas Eve and lasted until late March, with a few temporary warm-ups. The Severn and Thames froze, and frost fairs started up again. The French army tried to invade the Netherlands over its frozen rivers, while the Dutch fleet was stuck in its harbor. The winter had Easterlies (from Siberia) as its dominant feature.

1813-1814, severe cold, last freeze-over of Thames, and last frost fair. (Removal of old London Bridge and changes to river's banks made freeze-overs less likely.)
1816 was the Year Without a Summer in the Northern Hemisphere. The unusual coolness of the winter of 1815–1816 and of the following summer was primarily due to the eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia, in April 1815. There were secondary effects from an unknown eruption or eruptions around 1810, and several smaller eruptions around the world between 1812 and 1814. The cumulative effects were worldwide, but were especially strong in the Eastern USA, Atlantic Canada, and Northern Europe. Frost formed in May in New England, killing many newly-planted crops, and the summer never recovered. Snow fell in New York and Maine in June, and ice formed in lakes and rivers in July and August. In the UK, snow drifts remained on hills until late July, and the Thames froze in September. Agricultural crops failed and livestock died in much of the Northern Hemisphere, resulting in food shortages and the worst famine of the 19th century.
1883-1888, colder temperatures worldwide, including an unbroken string of abnormally cold and brutal winters in the Upper Midwest, related to the explosion of Krakatoa in August 1883. There was snow recorded in the UK as early as October and as late as July during this time period.
1887-1888, there were record cold temperatures in the Upper Midwest, heavy snowfalls worldwide, and amazing storms, including the Schoolhouse Blizzard of 1888 (in the Midwest in January), and the Great Blizzard of 1888 (in the Eastern US and Canada in March).

In Europe, the winters of early 1947, February 1956, 1962–1963, 1981–1982 and 2009-2010 were abnormally cold. The UK winter of 1946–1947 started out relatively normal, but became one of the snowiest UK winters to date, with nearly continuous snowfall from late January until March.
1976-1977, one of the coldest winters in the US in decades.
1985, Arctic outbreak in US resulting from shift in polar vortex, with many cold temperature records broken.

2002-2003 was an unusually cold winter in the Northern and Eastern USA.
2010-2011, persistent bitter cold in the entire eastern half of the USA from December onward, with few or no mid-winter warm-ups, and with cool conditions continuing into spring. La Nina and negative Arctic Oscilalation were strong factors. Heavy and persistent precipitation contributed to almost constant snow cover in the Northeastern US which finally receded in early May.
2011-2012, one of the warmest winters. Christmas Day 2011 was the warmest Christmas in Ireland, as observed by the Armagh Observatory.

So, let's see how Christmas Day will be in 2012..............
Merry Christmas

photo: grethe bachmann & stig bachmann nielsen,  


Out on the prairie said...

When my parents bought their last home in 1961 they were unaware of a big hill in the back until my mother watched me slowly dissappear walking out to explore the fields around us.We just had a first snow here in the Midwest.I need to try out my new sled.

Thyra said...

Take care not to disappear in the snow, Steve!
I like the childhood memories from the snow winters, I loved being out with the sledge or out skating. They were good times for us children those tough winters, while our parents had to buy more fuel!
I understand the children of today, they want snow for their Christmas Holiday, while I'm sometimes worried about the icy streets! But a winter landscape is so beautiful, isn't it?
Have a lovely Christmas Steve,
Grethe ´)

Wanda..... said...

Such an interesting post of our world's previous winters, Grethe. So glad to have read it, makes my 26*F this morning seem not so cold! We had our first snowfall and strong winds of the season yesterday. I well remember the winter of 1976-1977, a blizzard left us house bound for over a week...the children loved the deep snow...blown to 3-4 ft. in some areas of the yard.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a good winter, Grethe!

Thyra said...

Hej Wanda, I've tried to convert - 26 Fahrenheit to Celsius that's - 32 celsius and that's really very cold. We've got minus 1-5 celsius today and a cold eastern wind, but there will be ice layer in the streets this afternoon, so I'll have to go out in the morning to finish shopping but fortunately I've got a little assistance.

They also predict a snow storm this afternoon. I like a silent winter's day with a little soft snow and a little frost. Just enough you know.

We'll look forward to spring and summer won't we? I wish you milder weather and a Merry Christmas with your lovely family. I imagine you'll be doing some of your fabulous cooking! Uhmmmm! Send me some chocolate cake !!

Thank you for good wishes!
Grethe ´)

LENE said...

Jeg ønsker dig og dine en rigtig god jul fylt med megen glæde og varme!
Juleknus fra Lene

Thyra said...

Tak Lene, for din varme hilsen det er dejligt at høre fra dig. Jeg ønsker dig og din familie al glæde og sundhed i julen og det nye år.
Jeg glæder mig til dine spændende posts, som altid er en nydelse at se på og læse om, også fordi der er så meget inspiration Norge og fra Norden i det hele taget. Det er bare skønt.

Kærlig hilsen
Grethe ´)

Carolyn said...

Very interesting. as always,Grethe

Merry Christmas! ;)

Thyra said...

Hello Carolyn! Thank you and a very Merry Christmas to you. Thank you for telling about your travelling the whole of USA. See you next year.
Grethe `)

MyMaracas said...

It's cold, dark, and wet no matter how you slice it. I actually got caught out in a blizzard in the 2010-2011 winter, and it was one of the scariest things ever. Hope your winter is a mild one, and that your holidays are safe and warm!

Thyra said...

Hej Maracas, I'm so looking forward to spring and summer. I try to remember those pretty winterdays with little snow and little frost. Blizzards in winter are merciless!! I hope you'll avoid a blizzard this season.
Just this week the weather is mild and rainy here in Dk and the sun has gone - until when?
Thanks for your comment. Have a Happy New Year! See you next year in our blogville.
Grethe ´)