Masters of understatement

You might have heard we’ve had a bit of snow in the UK in the last few days.

from BBC

Snow plough/gritter and digger stuck in drifts in Cumbria, March 23rd 2013.  Source: BBC via Daily Mail.

From the Daily Mail, (accompanied by impressive photos)

The blockades have closed many roads in the area, while the M6 between Hackthorpe and Shap is only passable with care.

The M6 at Shap is below the village as the land slopes down from the upland areas of the Cumbrian Fells. Parts of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have been similarly hit, with drift of 10-15ft common, many people in isolated areas cut off, and crews struggling to restore power.   The snow may not have been as widespread as in some recent years, but the areas that were hit have been hit hard:


Snow/rain intensity (Source: BBC/Met Office

In terms of snow accumulations and the effect on people’s lives, this is a significant event, which began on Friday evening (22nd).  In many places it snowed heavily for 24 hours or more.

Now here’s what the Met Office Blog had to say about it:

Source: Met office blog

That was it! Nothing about drifts or the difficulty of measuring level snow depths in windy conditions. No discussion.  Talk about understatement!

A commenter offers to clarify:

Met Office comment

Since the Met Office is so fond of probabilities, what is the probability of all UK Meteorological stations completely missing areas of significant snow accumulations?   If this is how snow depths for March 24th are going to go down in the Met Office records, what does this say about weather statistics?

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6 Responses to Masters of understatement

  1. ArndB says:

    It is an exceptional situation in late March. Already many suggestions are in the air, NAO, Jet-Stream, too low ice-cover in the Barents Sea, but little about the role of the oceans in general and the North- and Baltic Sea in particular, see todays North Sea SST-map here:

    This big surprise should address the question, how such a weather phenomenon can happen, and why science is still not able to explain the underlying mechanism, which has caused the situation. Discussed here , concluding:

    What meteorologist/climatologist should now be able to explain, why the North Sea and westerly Baltic are so cold, and whether it is partly due to anthropogenic causes. At this time of the year the regional sea areas have lost the entire heat stored during the previous summer. Any human activities, whether shipping, fishing, off-shore wind farms will significantly increase evaporation and cooling down the sea water. It seems time to know exactly how much human activity in adjacent sea areas has contributed to the extraordinary weather condition from London to Moscow during March 2013.

    • Jon says:

      Many Norwegians stay in their cabins in the forrest or high in the mountain during Easter. Mostly going skiing cross country or downhill.
      This Easter has so far, for me and many in southern Norway, been calm winds, 99% sunny during daytime and very cold during night, minus 20 deg C.
      Blocking high pressure over Norway shipping cold air upon Western EU and keeping the “polar front” over UK?

  2. In mid February, 1947 there was a tremendous snowfall. In South Wales the snow collected in the smaller roads that were lined with bushes and I remember the tips of the bushes poking through the snow as we walked at “bush top” height.

    The snow persisted until the end of March so thousands of animals died because farmers could not get food to them. It makes one appreciate the benefits of “Global Warming”.

    • ArndB says:

      Another incident happened during the first WWII winter 1939/40, when maritime and continental air clashed over NW Europe, (extract from ):
      Headline to a brief text in NYT (Jan. 19) – Europe in mid-January 1940. “Cold relaxes its grip on North Europe . Only Finland still suffers in 58-below-zero weather, a 60-year cold spell. Schools in the Reich closed. Low temperatures, sleet and snow in Portugal , Spain and northern Italy .
      __Record low in Wales Rhaydaer(Powys) recorded minus 23.3C;
      London , January 27, 1940. A blizzard raged over the British Isles last Saturday (January 27]. Newspapers permitted publishing the first details of the blizzard, called it the coldest weather in a century. (NYT, Feb. 1st.). On Jan. 28 the NYT titled the event: “British Cold Snap Can Now Be Told. Military Censorship on the Weather Lifted – Freeze Severest Since 1894. 7-Degrees Low in London . Press Has Noted Subzero Spell in Europe without a word of Arctic conditions locally.”
      __Snow storm lasting from 26th to 29th, vast areas covered with snow, high snow drifts, e.g. Exmore 2,5m. Main drift between Ringshall and Dagnall (near Luton ), 15 feet/4,57m (Hawke, 1940).
      __Ice-storm. The duration of the storm was remarkable lasting up to 48 hours in some places…….
      More : *)
      The flow of cold air towards the Atlantic coast could not have happen without sub-cold regional sea areas in January 1940. Something must have generated it, and the most likely cause was naval activities since 1st Sept.39. Man made a huge field experiment, and meteorology is not able to investigate and understand the situation. So they are not able to analyse the contribution of the regional sea areas and human sea activities may have had on the cold and snow in March 2013.

      AND the global temp-map for January 1940:

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