1975

A vintage year. 1974-75 was an extremely mild winter (the second mildest on record). There was then a cool spring: although there was no snow in the south between November and early March, and February was mild, there was then quite a lot of snow about in the spring, followed by a wonderful summer. I remember sweltering on the Isle of Wight. A very dry year (one of the five driest years of the century), laying the basis of the great drought the next year. The 1975-76 winter was very dry: Plymouth recorded 120 mm of rain compared with the expected 298mm. This was the first really warm summer since 1959, and after 1976 and 1995 in the twentieth century, the third best since 1929.


January. One of only two wet months this year. It was also extremely mild; at 6.8C, only January 1916 and 1921 have been milder.

February. Slightly milder than average.

March.Famous snowy Easter. There was 15 cm of snowfall in Birmingham on Maundy Thursday, and the whole holiday saw snow cover. The cold weather persisted from the 27th into April...

April. A dull month. There were cold northerlies for the first ten days, bringing lengthy and frequent snow showers, and frost. In Birmingham there were daily snowfalls from March 27 to April 10. There was 15 cm of lying snow in places in the SE on the 9th, and 45 cm in the Scottish Highlands. There was however a warm, sunny spell later in the month, with 23C recorded in parts on the 24th.

May. Dry but cold (9.9C). After an unsettled first two days, it was a predominately easterly month with some northerlies led to very high sunshine totals in western Scotland - e.g. 329.2 hours on Tiree in the Inner Hebrides, making it Scotland's sunniest month ever. It was very dry in the west. Much wetter and duller in the east. The coldest May since 1941 in the south, with some damaging frosts. The temperature of -5.1C at Carnwath, Lanark, on the 31st, is a record low for this time of year.

June. A dry month with a dramatic change from very cold to warm. It was a cold start to the month, following on from the cold end to May. Snow fell and lay on high ground in the Midlands on the morning of Monday the 2nd, with sleet as far south as Portsmouth. Gleneagles recorded -3.3C on the 2nd. Famously, snow affected play in the County cricket match between Derbyshire and Lancashire in Buxton: the game was abandoned for the day on the Monday because the snow cover was an inch deep. Snow was reported as fallen at a cricket game at Lords on the same day and over a large portion of East Anglia, accompanied by low midday temperatures (2C). Snow lay on the hills around Birmingham, and was also reported at Portsmouth and Ramsgate. Snow lay for four days in parts of Scotland. This is the latest reliable date on which snow has fallen in lowland Britain, and was an exceptional event, with a return likelihood of 250 years (which is comparable to the Great Storm of October 1987). There were low grass minima on the 4th (e.g. -6C at Kew). There were also gales in places. Pressure then started to build, and by the 6th it was very warm (25C across the country, and it reached 28C on the 7th. Warmest: 28.9C at Achneshellach on the 9th, and 30C on the 12th at Ellbridge (Cornwall). It was also a very dry month: only 6% of normal rainfall in some places in the SW (e.g. Gloucester and Torquay), and less than 1 mm of rain in parts of the southwest. After the snow, most of the month was hot, sunny, and dry, but with some notable thunderstorms. On the 16th, a thunderstorm gave 72.3 mm in 2 hours at Midhurst (W Sussex), with heavy hail. On the other hand, parts of mid Hampshire, Dorset, and Wiltshire had no rain at all month. Some places in the south averaged 11 hours sun a day. On the night of the 28-29 a cold front led to some very low temperatures, with some frost.

July. Very warm (17.4C) but often unsettled and thundery, although it was generally very dry over the south. On the 13th temperatures reached 25C in the Midlands, but an early morning storm on the 14th saw some violent thunderstorms across the Midlands, with 55 mm hailstones. There was much damage to cars and glass in Sutton Coldfield. Also on the 14th, 105 mm of rain fell at Inverbeg, near Loch Lomond. A thunderstorm gave 156 mm of rain at Borrowdale in Cumbria on the 22nd. There were four consecutive days over 30C right at the end of the month, with the hot spell then continuing into August.

August. A very hot month (18.7C CET), but one with some severe storms. The month continued the fine summer: a large anticyclone from the start of the month enabled a weak southerly airflow, which led to some high temperatures. Both Edinburgh (31.4C) and Glasgow (31.2C) saw their record maxima set on the 4th. 32C was widely recorded by the 6th, and 34C in the south on the 8th. Even Braemar reached 30C on the 11th, and the 30C recorded at Strathy (on the north coast of Sutherland) that day is the northernmost record of 30C. There were thunderstorms on the 4-5th and 8-9th. The reading of 31.2C in Glasgow on the 4th was the highest for 107 years. There were 8 consecutive days over 30C from 2nd-9th August which was preceded by 4 days from 28th-31st July and then followed by another 4 from 11th-14th August. The highest temperature of the month was 34.2C at Heathrow on the 8th. A weak cold front moved east on the 14th; temperatures reached 30C that day in London. At 5pm a violent thunderstorm broke out over London, centred over Hampstead. This is therefore known as "The Hampstead Storm", and was one of the most notable thunderstorms of the century. It was an example of what is known as a "supercell storm". 170.8 mm of rain fell in 2.5 hours at Hampstead, with hail as large as 16 mm reported. This is one of the highest rainfall rates of the twentieth century. One person drowned, and cars floated along streets that became canals. The Underground was flooded, and rail services in North London were disrupted for 24 hours. Yet only 4 miles from the storm centre, in Wembley, Hackney, and the City, there was no virtually no rain. How I wish I'd been there.

September. The hot summer ended abruptly on the 12th with an intrusion of arctic air. It was very wet: September was one of only two wet months this year. The 13th was very wet in the south, with 50 mm of rain widespread, 75 mm on the north Kent coast, and 91 mm at Margate - accompanied by a severe NE gale. The temperature that day only reached 10C in London, and as low as under 9C in parts of the south east - this is the coldest day recorded so early in the second half of the year. The 14th was also a cold day. A tornado destroyed glass in Barnham (Sussex) also on that day. As the winds eased on the 15th, with arctic air and clear skies the temperature widely dipped across the SE to -3 C, and as low as -6.1C at Dalwhinnie. A cold night at Lagganlia in the Highlands: -6.2C on the 27th. However, with the warm first third, the temperature of the month overall was very close to the long-term average.<

October. At 9.9C, slightly cooler than average. Mostly quiet and settled. In the second half of the month southerly winds brought fog at night and some warm afternoons. It reached 20C in Huddersfield on the 28th.

November. About average temperatures.

December. December 1975 had a stormy beginning. On the 1st, several tornadoes affected East Anglia. Glaze affected Wiltshire on the14th. A warm front moved in rapidly over cold air (it was -5 that morning), giving 5 mm of ice in places. Overall, it was slightly milder than usual.