1974

1974 was not an inspiring year. Indeed, a very poor summer: the temperature only reached 27.8C on one day. Some record-breaking early snow for the south in early October. Otherwise the Dark Years of the Early Seventies weather continued. A very cold October included an exceptional early snowfall in the south.


January. Very stormy, wet, but mild. It was particularly stormy in the first half of the month, on the 4th, 7th, 8th, and 10-13th. A gust of 102mph at Port Talbot on the 8th; the same day 125mm of rain fell in the southwest. Flooding in Wales, and four people died. Thick fog in the south and Midlands on the 9th, contributing to a severe accident on the M1. On the night of the 10-11th, 21 tornadoes were reported across southern Britain, with a gust of 104 mph at Lyneham (Wilts.). The storm of the 11-12th was particularly windy; 123 mph was recorded at Kilkeel (County Down). Waves caused flooding at Blackpool and Aberystwyth. Disruption to power supplies was widespread. 238.4mm of rain fell at Sloy, Loch Lomond, on the 17th: this total (over 9"!) is a record for daily rainfall in January. Whereas some sites in western Scotland exceeded 1000 mm for the month, some in northeast Scotland only made 25 mm.

February. Mild (5.4C) - the mildest February of the 70s. It was also unsettled and often stromy. On the 11th the pressure fell to 959 mbars overs NW Scotland.

March. Average temperature overall (5.8C). It was a mainly easterly month, and was consequently dry and cloudy. There was heavy snow in the north on the 1st, and snow in the south during the 9-12th. It was unsettled midmonth. There was a sunny warm spell at the end of the month, with 20C recorded at Kinlochewe in NW Scotland on the 31st.

April. This month was very dry in northwest Scotland (!). Overall, it was the driest April of the century in Scotland as a huge anticyclone settled over the country. It was very warm early in the month, with 22C reported from several locations in the N and W on the 4th, and 22.0C at Achnashellach (Highland) on the 7th.

May. It was -5C at Stratford on the morning of the 8th. On the 26th the lack of any wind at sea led to the abandonment of serious yacht racing at Whitstable.

June. Very close to the average temperature overall. The highest temperature of the year was only 28.0, and it happened on the 15 June in Southampton (of course). You have to go back to 1962 for a lower highest temperature. I must have been doing my O-levels around then; but then, it's always hot around exam time. There were some heavy thunderstorms, leading to flash flooding, on the 16th. 96 mm of rain fell at Ambroseden (Oxon.) on the 16th.

July. At 15.2, a cool month. We'd have to wait until 1980 for one cooler - if that's the kind of thing you like waiting for, of course.

August. At 15.2C, it was slightly cooler than average - not really the sort of weather one wants to celebrate one's O-level results to, is it? It was also an unsettled month, but with some warm, sunny spells around the 6th, 19th, and 28th. Oddly enough, I only remember the sunny spells. There were also some violent thunderstorms, particularly in the south, and a tornado was reported at Woking on the 26th.

September. Cool, wet, and stormy: the wettest of recent times (153 mm), with some local flooding. Thundery in the south. The Morning Cloud Storm of the 2nd was particularly memorable: the yacht was hit by a 8 metre wave off Brighton. Even though I lived on the south coast, I don't remember this at all. On the 7th gales led to loss of life, and the stadium rood was blown off in the Derby-Newcastle match. There were 20 m of rain in 15 minutes in a thunderstorm at Oxford on the 12th. There were many small tornadoes accompanied a cold front on the 21st (particularly Thaxted and Bicester) and again on the 26th. The maximum in the Midlands on the 27th was only 8C. Then there was a minimum of -6.0 at Braemar on the 28th; this is one of the lowest September minima on record (but see 1942 for the lowest).

October. Very cold (7.8C CET) - in parts of the south and midlands the coldest since 1905. The month had the lowest average maxima this century. It was dominated by persistent and often strong northerly winds. It was also very dull in Scotland. There was sleet and wet snow in the southeast on the 7th, and some light snow in the south (on the hills of Essex and Hertfordshire) for a while on the 30th. This is the last time there was snow in lowland Britain in October. The 7th was also the earliest date for snow in the south this century. There was maximum of only 3C widespread on the 30th, with more local sleet in parts of the south. I don't remember it at all. The highest temperature of the month was just 16.3C, in Northern Ireland (in England it was 16.1C).

November. Wet and often stormy, particularly in the second and final weeks. A gust of 92 mph was recorded on Tiree on the 11th. There was a pressure reading of only 960 mbars in Northern Ireland on the 14th.

December. Very mild (8.1) - about the same as, or perhaps a fraction cooler, than December 1934. It was warmer than the preceding October and November. Dry in the south. Windy most of the month, with some severe gales. A thundery squall reached 89mph at Kew on the 11th. A gust of 95.5 mph at Eskdalemuir on the 29th. At Kew, 10C was reached 10 times this month, and 21 times at Falmouth. Roses bloomed throughout the month at Wisley (Surrey), into the following very mild January.