Winter 2014-2015: Blizzards, Thundersnow, Gales ...and LOTS of Sunshine!

Tuesday 03rd Mar 2015 by theWeather Club

It was certainly a rather different winter in the UK compared to last year’s particularly stormy one, although the north of the UK did experience some very unsettled wintry weather. 

In December, a so-called ‘weather bomb’ affected Scotland and Northern Ireland. This ‘explosive cyclogenesis’ describes the rapid fall in central pressure of a depression (or low pressure system), of 24 mb in 24 hours. Wind speeds of up to 81 mph were felt in northwest Scotland, with exposed parts - such as the CairnGorm summit - experiencing gusts in excess of 100 mph. During this storm, film footage was obtained showing a waterfall running upsidedown, as winds forced the water upwards!

In January, two rapidly deepening Atlantic storms developed, bringing snow and gusts to much of the UK, leaving some areas without power. Once again, Scotland experienced the strongest gusts, particularly exposed areas such as Stornoway which saw wind speeds of 113 mph. ‘Thundersnow’ - thunder and lightening during a snowstorm - also occurred to the north of Manchester in late January as cold air was drawn down from Iceland and Greenland. 

February temperatures were marginally lower than the long-term average, but there was plenty of sunshine and settled weather due to a dominant high pressure system at the start of the month. The clear skies did, however, allow fog and frost to develop at times, and an Atlantic storm brought wet and wintry weather towards the end of the month.

Overall, winter temperatures were generally close to the long-term average across the UK as a whole. Scotland and the north-west had a rather wet winter period, whilst southern, eastern and north-east England had a rather dry winter. Sunshine was in abundance for much of the country throughout the winter period and as such it was the UK’s sunniest winter, in records dating back to 1929. 

Although cold weather and snowstorms were experienced at times across parts of the UK, it was significantly less-severe than other parts of the world.  Eastern USA and Canada were once again struck by blizzards (see tWC newsletter issue 8, p.4), notably Winter Storm Juno in January. Niagara falls even froze over in February.  Eastern Europe and the even Middle East experienced snowfall. Countries including Greece, Turkey and Israel were struck by unusually heavy snowfall as the jet stream carved out a sharp trough from western Russia into the eastern Mediterranean Sea, drawing down bitterly cold air.