1970

1970 saw the last proper White Christmas. A lively August, and record rainfall in thunderstorms in a hot June.


January. Not a great deal happened this month. The overall temperature was almost exactly average (3.7), and Rolf Harris was no. 1 with "Two little boys". One had a wooden leg ...

February. Quite cool overall. A northwesterly, unsettled month, but also very sunny: some places had twice the expected amount of sunshine. There was a blizzard in southern England on the 12th as a deep depression ran east along the English Channel. I must have been there, but I don't remember it at all. In the north, temperatures fell in the cold air behind it: -18C recorded in Scotland on the morning of the 13th. It was then mild towards the end of the month, before turning colder again on the 27th as northerlies brought down colder air.

March. Very cold (3.7C CET) overall. The month started with northerly winds. There was a major and unexpected snowfall on the 4th, heavy enough to bring down power lines in Kent. Some parts of Northants. and Beds. reported about 40 cms of snow, with the deepest being nearly 48cm near Northampton. Snow fell heavily for twelve hours across a wide part of the south. In parts of the north southeast (if you see what I mean) and the East Midlands it was the heaviest snowfall since 1947. Near Bedford 36 cms of snow lay after 24 hours of snow. Miners were tuck underground because of the pwoer loss, but all were successfully rescued. The Met Office was lambasted for its failure to predict the snowfall. The snow was followed by some low temperatures in a northerly air flow, with -15C recorded. The snow covered lasted for more than a week, in sunshine. I don't remember this at all, although I must have been going to school at the time. I don't remember missing Mr Openshaw's French lessons because I was snowbound, but you never know. It turned milder after midmonth.

April. Cold (6.7C) - the coldest since 1941. There was a heavy snowfall on the 12th; roads were blocked in the Pennines. The record daily rainfall for the month of 182.1mm was set at Seathwaite (Cumbria) on the 22nd.

May. Very warm (13.0) and largely dry. There were many lightning casualties early in the month in thunderstorms. 26C was widely reached on the 5th. Just 4mm of rain fell at Lincoln and Rochdale all month, and 8 mm at Barnsley.

June. The second warmest of century (16.4C). 32C was recorded at Maldon (Essex) on the 10th. Thunderstorms midmonth gave some exceptional rainfall rates - two of the top ten heaviest rainfall rates of the century occurred this month. The first storms appeared over eastern Scotland on the 6th as a small trough of low pressure moved west. 93 mm of rain in 117 minutes at Lossiemouth. There were 111 mm of rain in 90 minutes at Miserden (Glocs., equivalent to 74 mm a hour). The night of the 10-11th was very warm: minimum of 19C in Manchester (then a record). There were violent thunderstorms in the Manchester area on the 11th, with golfball-sized hailstones. Flooding in the northwest, from Derby to Bury. A storm in London caused flooding at Heathrow, closing the runways. An exceptional event gave 67 mm of rain in 25 minutes at Pershore (Worcs.), equivalent to 161 mm per hour. On the 11th, 31C was recorded at Barr in SW Scotland. There were more thunderstorms on the 27th, affecting the Fens and East Anglia, causing flooding, particularly around King's Lynn and March, where large hailstones devastated 4000 acres of crops. There was a tornado at March. Also on the 27th, 50.8 mm of rain fell in 12 minutes at Wisbech. This is the highest rainfall rate of the twentieth century; altogether 100 mm fell in 140 minutes. (It is equivalent to 254 mm per hour; only the Preston downpour of August 1893 was more ferocious, and that reading is questionable.) There were four deaths caused by lightning. On the other hand, there was a drought in the northwest. June was warmer than July this year - the last time this happened, although it had happened a couple of times in the 60s.

July. At 15.2C CET, quite a cool month overall, although an early heatwave saw the hottest day of the year: 32.2C at Aldenham (Herts.) and Stratford-upon-Avon, on the 7th. It was a dull month, largely unsettled, and with frequent NW winds. It was very wet in Tiree with 136 mm of rain, but only 28 mm fell at Walton-on-the-Naze.

August. Most notable for widespread and severe flooding midmonth. There were some notable downpours early in the month (e.g. 43mm in 30mm in a thunderstorm in central London on the 7th; 65mm in 80 minutes at Harwell, Oxon.). Deep depressions swept the British Isles in the third week. 120mm of rain in Belfast on the 15-16th led to extensive flooding. 150mm in three days in the Moray Firth. Severe gales across the southwest; a campsite was wrecked bear Pembroke. 91mm of rain on Birmingham on the 19th. Thunderstorms added to the mayhem. Much traffic disruption in the southwest. The worst flooding was over northeast Scotland; 150mm of rain in 3 days. Heavy agricultural losses, the Aberdeen-Inverness rail link was under water, and Elgin and Forres were the worst affected towns.

September. A dry month overall. An unsettled westerly first half. On the 9th in Anglesey the average wind speed for an hour was 60 mph. There was a cool period between the 10th and 15th, but then it was very warm at the end of the month, with 28C recorded in central London on the 20th, and 26C recorded in places on the 25th and 26th. 27C was recorded at Nottingham and Gloucester on the 28th. Many places had no rain from the 16th to 29th. Filey and Skegness recorded 14mm of rain during the month.

October. Another average October after the excitement of the previous one (CET 10.7C). It was dry in the south (with 9 mm of rain at Margate and 13 mm at Southampton) but wetter in the NW (with 213 mm at Stornoway). 18C was recorded in central England on the 30th.

November. Mild in the south, wet and stormy in the north. A gust of 115 mph was recorded on Fair Isle on the 14th. Extremely wet overall; one of the wettest on record.

December. A pretty average month overall, but more exciting around Christmas time, with cold weather arriving on Christmas Eve. There was thunder on Christmas Eve. A snowy Christmas: the last true White Christmas of the southeast (with snow falling and lying). I remember it snowing a lot in Southampton, but I don't think it was that bad really. After all, we still managed to drive to our gran's and back. The month was very dry overall.