1969

The all-time hottest October was the highlight of 1969, but there was also a good cold February. The best summer of the 60s - which isn't saying a lot. Parts of Suffolk had no rain for 58 days from late August to late October. The August Bank Holiday fell on Monday 1 September this year (the rule was later changed from the Monday after the last Sunday in August to the simpler last Monday in August).


January. Mild. At 5.5C, it was the mildest January of the 60s - indeed, to get one more mild you'd have to go back to 1944 or forward to 1974, although 5.5C is nothing compared with what you get these days. (1949 and 1957 were as mild.) It turned mild and unsettled from the 7th, and was very mild around the 21st, although it then turned colder.

February. A cold month (CET of 1.0C), with frequent northerly and easterly winds, and some heavy snow. The low-level wind record of 135.8 mph was set at Kirkwall on the 7th; this record stood until February 1986. Also on the 7th the maximum temperature at Eskdalemuir was -7C. A polar low caused a notable blizzard affected the east Midlands and South East on the same day as it introduced very cold arctic air. Snow started in the early afternoon, and finished 6 hours later, depositing a foot of snow; in Kent there were 30 cm, with some 20' drifts. As the polar air flooded south temperatures fell from 4C at midday, to -3C in the snow, to -14C as the snow cleared overnight. There was more heavy snow on the 14th. Low temperatures were widespread across the north of Britain. It was -20C near Penrith on the 16th, and -20.6C recorded on the 18th at Grantown-on-Spey. Manchester had its lowest February reading of the century, with -13C. It even fell to -7C in central London. Severe easterly gales caused much damage in south Devon on the 19th, and led to widespread drifting of snow across the south. There were more blizzards across the west and midlands on the 20th. This is another cold and snowy month from my childhood that I just can't place at all.

March. Very cold (3.3C CET) and dull. There was heavy snow across the north on 12-14th; roads were blocked in Angus and Perthshire. There was an ice storm in the Midlands and the north on the 16-18th. A TV transmitter at Emley Moor, Huddersfield, collapsed under the weight of the glazed ice on the 19th.

April. Slightly cooler than average (7.4C). There were northerly winds and snow showers at first, but then the first week was mainly sunny, and quite warm by the 7th. The rest of the month was unsettled and cold, with rain, showers, and some snow, with some sharp frosts.

May. An unsettled month: dull, wet, and thundery. It was very wet in eastern Scotland. Very thundery in the south, with many heavy downpours and notable thunderstorms, particularly in the final week. Hail lay 5 cm deep after a storm at Quainton (Bucks.) on the 16th. There were 27 mm of rain fell in 35 minutes at Knotty Ash on the 24th. 60 mm fell in 2 hours near Crewe on the 30th. Edgbaston had 11 days of thunder in total this month. A sad event happened this month: the station at Camden Square - which had seen some famous weather events across the years - was closed.

June. Another very average month, very slightly cooler than usual.The month had a cool, wet start, but became thundery around the 14th. On the 14th, 59 mm of rain fell at Barnsley in 45 minutes, accompanied by large hailstones. It was however a very sunny month, especially across England and Wales.

July. With a CET of 16.8, this was the warmest month of the decade (but for comparison, there were 9 hotter months in the 90s). I remember sitting out on the lawn, enjoying the summer heat, reading Arthur Ransome stories. It was 32.8C at Letchworth on the 16th. It wasn't always dry, however. Two days of heavy rain in the SW gave rise on the 28th to fears of a repeat of the August 1952 event at Lynmouth; fortunately, this did not happen.

August. Very warm, fairly sunny first half, but with some heavy thunderstorms in places. 31C was recorded at some sites from 9-11th. 78 mm of rain at Lanark on the 16th. There was 120 mm of rain at Thanet (Kent) midmonth, with 24 mm in one hour.

September. Very dry. Nevertheless, a severe gale across Scotland on the 28-29th gave a storm surge along the North Sea coast leading to flooding. Much of Hull was under a metre of water. As the waters receded, the Humber ferries had to be cancelled because of a lack of water in the channels! This was followed by a low of -5.6C recorded at Santon Downham on the 30th.

October. Until 2001, the hottest on record (13.0), with a particularly notable late heatwave. 26C was reported on the 9th, but a high of 22.8C at Portsmouth (26th) is the record for the last ten days of October (although this figure might be a bit high). An anticyclonic month which was very dry in the south. This was my first year at grammar school, but even with this cue available I still don't remember much about it.

November. Fairly sunny, but very unsettled, and quite cool overall. 21C recorded at Totnes on the 3rd. 100 mm of rain fell in Country Antrim on the 21st. There was a severe cold snap at the end, with heavy snowfalls and strong northerly winds.

December. Slightly colder than average. It was a very foggy Christmas Day.


Return to British weather homepage

Return to year listings