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Historical weather events.


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This site attempts to collect together in one place the most notable events in our 'weather history' across the British Isles. It has been built up in a rather 'ad-hoc' fashion, initially just for the latter third of the 20th century, then worked backwards as and when I stumbled across data etc., and of course kept up to date as far as possible. I am aware that these data are heavily biased towards 'UK' events: I would like to add more for Ireland, so if you spot any significant missing events, please advise me.

I have tried to capture the "notable events", but I am always open to suggestions! Inevitably, there is some element of subjectivity over what constitutes a 'significant' event. Also, the further back in time we go, the scrappier the information & the greater the probability of missing something.


Use this link if you want to put climatological events into historical context. Use this link if you want to go straight to a particular span of years.

I freely acknowledge that I have done very little original research (except on more recent events) - relying on various published works to supply the answers, and these are acknowledged in the majority of cases. There is no commercial aim to this site, so I hope that it will not be seen as deliberate plagiarism. If you want to challenge me on this, or if you see something wrong, let me know. I have where possible given references to a short bibliography.

(DATE OF LAST UPDATE/AMENDMENT/CORRECTION ETC: 14th April, 2014)


[ NB: The Julian calendar was changed in favour of the Gregorian calendar (in Great Britain & Ireland) after the 2nd September, 1752. That means that the 2nd September was the 2nd, but the next day magically became the 14th, and thus 11 days were 'lost' overnight! Dates around & before this change (for the British Isles) are always suspect, as some later authors did not always make it clear to which calendar they were referring. For earlier years, then Lamb (Ref. 23) gives the following guidance:
Between '29th February' 1400 & 28th February 1500, add 9 days to the recorded ('Old Style') date.
Between '29th February 1500' & 28th February 1700, add 10 days to the recorded ('Old Style') date.
Between '29th February 1700' & 28th February 1800, add 11 days to the recorded ('Old Style') date.
Between '29th February 1800' & 28th February 1900, add 12 days to the recorded ('Old Style') date.
Between '29th February 1900' & today, add 13 days to the recorded ('Old Style') date.
[The latter adjustments are not applicable for our purposes of course, but are listed here for the sake of completeness.]
Where possible I shall use the following notation - but note that it won't be complete for many years across the whole database:-
OS=Old Style; OSP=Old Style, presumed; NS=New Style; NSP=New Style, presumed; (?)=date uncertain for whatever reason; (C?)=calendar uncertain:]

( I am in the process of slowly working back-and-forth through the records to try and annotate dates to give more guidance on this matter. )]

[ NB: notes relating to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, from an article in the BAA Journal, October 2005: "The chronicles are inconsistent as to when a year starts. Years do not only start on January 1 or December 25. Some entries during the 11th century seem to be based on a year starting on March 25, the date of the Annunciation. Several 9th century entries are based on a year starting on September 1, using a system derived from the Roman Indiction, a cycle of tax assessment made on September 1 every 15th year. To make matters worse, there are mistakes in the chronicles themselves. The Worcester manuscript, for example, missed the year 1044. This makes the entries for 1045 to 1052 in error by one year and this is only corrected when 1052 is entered twice. This type of mistake was repeated elsewhere in the chronicles, sometimes with years being missed and sometimes with years being duplicated. It was also easy for copiers to misread the strokes used on Roman numerals. The two strokes for a 'v' could easily be misread as 'ii'."]

[ NB: notes relating to when the 'year' starts: Care needs to be taken with dates earlier than the mid-18th century. It was quite common to adopt the practice of starting the 'New Year' (for record purposes) on Lady Day (25th March). This means that an event occurring on 12th February 1701 as it appears to us, might be recorded as having occurred on the 12th February 1700 (i.e. in the year that started on the 25th March, 1700). This is known, by historians, as 'Old Style' (OS) dating, but this terminology is also used for the 'Julian' calendar dating - see above.]

[ NB: the following from article in 'Weather', July 2008/P. Jones ... " River Thames freeze-overs (and sometimes frost fairs) only occurred 23 times between 1408 and 1814 (Lamb) when the old London Bridge constricted flow through its multiple piers and restricted the tide with a weir. Not all the 23 events had strong enough ice for frost fairs. After the Bridge was replaced in the 1830s, the tide came further upstream and freezes no longer occurred, despite a number of exceptionally cold winters. Freeze-overs before 1408 are less well reported given the sparser evidence that far back in time, but there are some records of dates and duration available (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/River_Thames_frost_fairs)."


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