"All the months in the year, curse a fair Februeer."
February in my mind is rather like January: it should be cold and frosty, preferably with snow. However, the days are getting noticeably longer again in February. "As the days grow longer, the cold grows stronger." The seas surrounding the British Isles are at their coldest in late February and early March. On the whole, February is almost as cold as January (being the coldest month of the year about 40% of the time), and in some southwestern coastal spots it is often colder. February is statistically the driest month of the year. From 1990 on, however, February has become much more mild, wet, and sunny, with snow far less frequent than it used to be. It has become a much more westerly month - the change is most marked from 1978-1987 to 1989 onwards. The average temperature of the month has increased from 2.7C to 5.6C in this period. Indeed, since 1989 February has changed from being the last month of winter to the first month of spring.
February is supposed to be quite anticyclonic until mobile westerlies return from the 26th. There are supposed to be cold days peaking on the 13th and 22nd: judge for yourself. Candlemas (2nd) is the start of a cold spell in folklore - there is little basis for this. Storms tend to be past their peak by the second half of February, which is therefore often anticyclonic: hence the second half of February is often the driest part of the year in eastern and central England.
The period 7-14 February is Buchan's first cold spell. A mid-February cold spell is one of the least unreliable cyclical features. I've detailed the Buchan spells throughout these monthly summaries, and this and the mid-July hot spell are supposed to be the best. Looking at the dates, though, it seems hardly surprising. Dr Alexander Buchan was once secretary of the Scottish Meteorological Society. In 1867 he established six cold and three warm spells.It should also be pointed out that Buchan worked out his "spells" for Scotland, and did not mean them to be applicable to the whole of Britain. His greatest moment of fame came in 1928 when Lord Desborough presented a bill for fixing the date of Easter. This happened to coincide with Buchan's second cold spell (11-14 April). The Bill was defeated, and the following nine spells all performed according to theory.
Oddly, 14 February, Valentine's Day, is both the day when SAD (seasonal affect disorder) sufferers typically report that they start to feel better. I've read - although I might be confused with St Hilary's Day, 13 January - that statistically it is one of the coldest days of the year. Who could hope for anything more than fresh snow, a sharp frost, and still night, and the stars?
Extremes for February in the 20th century
Highest February average overall = 7.3 (1990, 1998)
Lowest February average overall = -1.9 (1947)
Highest maximum = 19.6 (1998, on the 13th, at Worcester)
Lowest minimum = -25.0C (1955, on the 23rd, at Braemar)
Some extreme weather events in February in the twentieth century
1900 Some heavy rainfall in the south.
1903 Very mild (7.1C CET - the mildest of the century before 1990), with westerly winds throughout the month, but stormy, particularly in the north. 14C was recorded at Wick on the 10th, and 16C in London on the 20th. Probably the most spectacular dry dustfall of this century affected much of England and Wales on February 21. There was a severe gale on the 27th, causing widespread damage and deaths across the north of England, with a gust of 92 mph.
1906 A heavy snowfall on the 7th caused transport havoc; it led to a railway collision at Arbroath, killing 22. Aberdeen was cut off for 3 days. A violent thunderstorm with hail and strong winds caused much damage in the Midlands and SE.
1907 A sunny and dry month. There was a severe gale on the 20th.
1908 Gale in the north on the 22nd.
1910 Mostly mild, windy and unsettled.
1911 Cold and dry until the 16th, and then wet, mild and windy. 60F recorded at Worksop on the 19th. Strong winds at Aberdeen on the 17th and Stockport on the 26th.
1912 A very cold start, with snow showers and an easterly wind. -21C recorded at West Linton (E. Scotland) on the 4th. A southerly wind set in on the 6th and it became mild and unsettled for the rest of the month, although the month was drier than average in the east.
1913 A dry month apart from western Scotland and the NW. Much if the east saw less than an inch of rain. Most of the rain there was fell in the first ten days, and it became anticyclonic from the 11th.
1914 A very mild month (6.8C CET); it was wet and stormy in the west and dry in the east. The first half of the month was particularly mild, with a CET of 8.3C up to the 15th. Very mild and and sunny first week in the south. 60F was recorded at Hawarden and 57F at Nairn on the 2nd. 16C was recorded at Shawbury, near Shrewsbury, on the 3rd. London reached 59F on the 14th. It was more cloudy in the north. Places such as Hull saw only 19 mm of rain all month, but it was wet in the west and southwest. There was a storm in the SW and Wales on the 21st and gales on the 22nd.
1915 On average, 534 mm of rain fell in England and Wales in the four months ending with February - one of the wettest spells of the century.
1916 Mild and stormy for the first three weeks. The winds then switched to the NE and it became much colder, with heavy snow and some severe frosts. By the end of the month there was 30 cm of snow lying in places.
1917 Very cold (+0.9C CET) and dry; part of a very cold winter. The coldest month of the Great War. There were some severe frosts in the first three weeks of the month, culminating with -20C at Benson (Oxon) on the 6th. There was a maximum of only -5C at Benson and Ross-on-Wye on the 7th.
1920 Mostly very mild. Wet in the north, but quite dry in the south. There was flooding in northern and central Britain mid-month. 17C recorded in East Anglia on the 18th, and in Edinburgh on the 28th
1921 Very mild and exceptionally dry: the driest of the twentieth century in England and Wales. It was also fairly sunny, and with generally light winds there was some fog. 17C recorded in parts of the SE on the 24th.
1922 Mainly mild with S and SW winds. 17C was recorded in Lincoln and Colwyn Bay on the 25th.
1923 A very mild month, but wet and stormy across the country. There were some very high minima at the start of the month, with a minimum of 10.3C on the 2nd (possibly the record highest minimum for England in February) and 9.8C on the 1st.
1927 Unsettled start with westerly winds. Widespread snow on the 2nd. Quiet, rather dull, and foggy midmonth, with some widespread frosts.
1928 Some heavy rain in the first half of the month. On the 12th, a severe gale hit the UK. The weather became more settled from the 17th, with fine and mild days but some frosty nights.
1929 A cold month (0.4C CET), and very dry. The month started mild and changeable, but very cold air arrived from the east around the blocking Scandinavian high in the second week. There were a wonderful seven days of frost from the 11th. There were some very low daytime maxima (e.g. -5.6C at Hampstead on the 12th and 13th, and Lympne (Kent) on the 14th; -6.1C at Cranwell (Lincoln) on the 15th; -6.7C at Buxton on the 13th and Roden (Shrops.) on the 14th), with some places not exceeding -5C for several days. -15C on the 13th and -17C on the 14th at Ross-on-Wye. The Thames froze in many places, and there was much skating in the Lake District. Many places had continuous frost from the 11-16th, and at Manston in Kent the temperature stayed beneath freezing from the 11-19th. There was very heavy snow in the SW on the 16th as a front tried to enter the very cold air; 6' of snow on Dartmoor over 15 hours. At Huntingdon Warren (Holne) there was 173 cm of snow following a 15 hour fall - perhaps a record level depth for lowland Britain (<500m altitude). It was less cold from the 20th, although the east winds returned at the end of the month. Unusually for so later in the month, there were frost days on the 26-27th in the south.
1930 Quiet, cold and dry everywhere. Sunny in the far north but dull in the east.
1931 Heavy snow fell in northern England and the Midlands on the 6th and 7th.
1932 Dry and anticyclonic. It was the driest of the century over Scotland. On the 20th the pressure reached 1047 mbars over Scotland.
1933 A severe snowfall over Yorkshire and the north of England on the 23-26th; up to 76 cms of level snow (30 inches) recorded in Huddersfield by the evening of the 26th, as some places in the Midlands, Wales, and north had 48 hours of snowfall, accompanied by an easterly gale. Some drifts of 430 cm (14 feet) were recorded on the North Yorkshire Moors and the Yorkshire Dales. Even the south of England had up to 30 cm of snow. Snowfall began in Ireland and Wales, spreading north and east, reaching southern Scotland on the 26th. This was one of the most severe blizzards of the century.
1934 An exceptionally dry month, particularly in Northern Ireland. Almost 14C was recorded at Ricksmansworty on the 16th, but there was a cold northerly spell from the 26th on.
1936 Cold and wet.
1937 Most notable for a great blizzard on the 28th. Deep drifts across the west and north (12-13' in Nairn). Some drifts were reported to last throughout March. Mostly the month was mild and wet in the south; the wettest for 67 years in many areas, leading to flooding of the Thames valley. The severe weather started with a deep depression moving east on the 27th (974 mbars over Norfolk); another followed, strengthening the northerly winds. 107 mph recorded on Holyhead. Kew recorded 194mm of rain this month.
1938 The month had a mild, wet start. Kinlochquoich in NW Scotland saw 86 mm of rain on the 2nd and 135 mm on the 3rd. There were some cold northerlies midmonth from the 12th untilt the 25th. Snow showers. There was serious flooding on the North Sea coast on the 11th and 12th as a result of strong northerly winds. Gusts of 87 mph in Spurn Head and 86 mph at Felixstowe. The month ended dry and mild.
1939 A sunny month. It was mild and wet in Scotland and the NW, and dry and mild elsewhere.
1940 Very cold for the first three days. The melting of the effects of January's great Ice Storm on the 3rd led to widespread flooding on the 4th. Foggy between the 5th and 9th. Very cold between the 10th and 19th. Colder than average overall, and a dull month everywhere.
1941 Cool and snowy, with major snowfalls on the 2nd (in the SW), 5th (across wide area), 18-20th (northeast England and Scotland). The blizzard of the 18-20th was exceptionally heavy, particularly from the night of the 19th, and primarily affected NE England and SE Scotland. A depression moved east across the south and then north into the North Sea, bringing in cold, moist air to the NE. In Durham there was 67 hours of continuous snowfall. Fog accompanied the snowstorm. Snow lay 75 cms deep at Newcastle, and 105 cms deep at Durham, which made it the wettest February in a century (148.5mm; 451% of normal). 122 cms of snow at Consett. The lowest temperature of the month came after this snowfall: -14 at Castleton (North Yorks.), and -15C at Houghall College near Durham. Sunderland and Durham were cut off. The final week was mild and unsettled with sunny spells.
1942 Very cold (+0.1); the tenth coldest since 1659, and the eighth coldest of the twentieth century. Dull, particularly in East Anglia, where it barely averaged an hour of sunshine a day.
1943 Mild and dry: there was no rain at all recorded in Hull from 12 February to the 24 March.
1944 A very mild start, with 16C recorded on the 2nd at Chester and Rhyl on southerly winds, but colder later, with heavy snowfalls across most of the country at the end of the month. 16 inches of snow fell during a great snowstorm at Nottingham on the 27th.
1945 Very mild (7.1C CET). Wet and unsettled up to the 12th; the 11th was cold. Then generally fine in England. 18.3C was recorded in the southeast (King's Lanley, Herts.) on the 18th. Some high nighttime minima were recorded at the end of the month. It was wet in the north and west. The jump in temperature between a very cold January and warm February is a record. The temperature rise between January and February was the highest from 1870 to 1989.
1946 The month had a very wet first week. There was a tornado in Birmingham on the 4th. There were some violent thunderstorms, and a schoolboy was killed by lightning on the 4th. It was mild on the 7th, with 15C at Torquay. The weather became more settled from the 9th, and was mild to the 21st, when it turned much colder, following a gale on the 20th. There were some very heavy rainfalls on the 7th, 8th, and 22nd. On the whole, it was a sunny month in NE England. Wet in the west, but very dry and pleasant in the NE (5.3" of rain in Manchester, but just 0.35" at Newcastle all month).
1947 The coldest February ever (-1.9C CET), the second coldest month this century (after January 1963), and the coldest month since January 1814. Many places in England were beneath zero from the 11th to the 23rd; Greenwich registered 14 consecutive days beneath zero. At Oxford frost began at 6 pm on the 10th and continued until 6 am on the 26th. The record low average was mainly determined by the very low maxima. Low minima were not outstanding because of the extensive cloud cover until clearer skies at the end of the month, when -21C was recorded at Wolburn on the 25th. It was a persistent easterly month of the sort that weather people long for: large amounts of snow in the east (e.g. 1.35 m of snow lay at Forrest-in-Teesdale (Durham) on the 18th. It was also very dull. There was no sunshine at Kew at all from the 2-22nd inclusive, and only 17 hours of sunshine in total (compared with the average of 61). A side-effect of the easterlies was that the Scottish Highlands had no rain this month, for the first time in recorded history, where it was also very sunny. It was, of course, also snowy, with snowstorms particularly affecting the south, midlands, and east. There was a major snowstorm on the 25-26th. It was also quite a windy month. Buxton had 30 consecutive days of frost. At Kew the maximum temperature of the month was 5C. Hence I vote this to be the most interesting February of the century.
1948 Mild at first, but with a cold second half. Dry in many places, but with some snow, particularly in the SE. There was a severe cold spell around the 21st: maximum of only -4C in Kent on the 20th and 21st, with a minimum of -15C at East Malling on the 22nd. 35cm of snow. There was an equal record minimum of -7.2 for Guernsey on the 19th.
1949 An exceptionally sunny month, with an England and Wales average of 117 hours - the record until 2008. In places February was sunnier than the dullest June. Ross-on-Wye saw some sun every day. It was also a dry month everywhere. Tynemouth only had 12 mm of rain. There were some severe frosts in the first week; -7.8C at Wittering early on the 4th.
1950 Mild and very wet, with flooding, particularly in England and Wales. Falmouth recorded 236 mm of rain, and Croydon 121 mm.
1951 Very wet, with flooding - again.
1952 Dry, sunny, and anticyclonic. Dundee had 110 hours of sunshine - 50% above average. It was very dry in the east, with some places only having less than 13 mm of rain. Although generally mild, there was a cold spell midmonth, around the time of the funeral of King George VI.
1953 The Great Storm and North Sea coast flooding continued right at the start of the month (see January 1953). It was cold and snowy around the 13-14th, but it was anticyclonic, dry, sunny, mild, and generally very springlike from the 20th onwards. Some high temperatures were recorded on the 20th, 22nd, 26th, 27th, and 28th, such as 16.7C at Leeming on the 26th and 15.6C at London Airport on the 27th. A foggy end in places: there was a severe London smog at the end of the month.
1954 Six days of persistent frost at the beginning: -20C recorded at Welshpool on the 2nd. Very cold NE winds swept across the country in this cold spell. Some places in the soth of England remained beneath freezing from the evening of 29 January to the morning of 7 February. Even at Falmouth in Cornwall it remained beneath freezing for some time. Snow lay six feet deep on the North Downs of Kent, and the sea froze along parts of the Essex coast.
1955 The cold northerlies with snow returned on the 8th. There was very heavy snow on Scotland on the 18th. The February record low this century was set: -25.0C, on the 23rd, at Braemar, following -22C at Dalwhinnie on the 22nd. This was the lowest temperature recorded in the UK since 1895. On the same day there were 16 hours of snowfall in Cornwall. By the 23rd level snow was 2' deep over the north of Scotland, 3' deep near Elgin, and with some villages in the far north and the islands cut off by 30' drifts; the RAF continued Operation Snowdrop to drop supplies to places cut off by the snow. The snow reached the south too, with a maximum depth of 24" at Buxton. I think the famous "Snow drift at Bleath Gill" (the British Transport Film showing the efforts of rescuers to release a train stuck in snow in the north Pennines) was filmed in this spell. There were some huge variations this month, with 72 deg. F. (c. 40 deg. C.) from -13 deg. F. at Braemar on 24th to 59 deg. F. at Cannington in Somerset on 8th, which is almost certainly the highest monthly range in an individual February to date. It was a relatively sunny month in the west.
1956 Very cold (-0.2C CET). On the 1st, maxima beneath -5C were widespread in the Midlands; the maximum was as low as -6.7C at several places (e.g. Lincoln, Stone, Silsoe, Throwley). Generally it was a frosty month, with most of the heavy snow along the east coast. Many places had continuous frost from the 18-25th. Snow lay to a level 12" in the SE, with 12' drifts.
1957 Wet in SE England, but dry in NW Scotland.
1958 A severe snowstorm in the north of England on the 24th; 10 inches of snow recorded at Rotherham.
1959 Very dry: the second driest February on record (with only 9 mm in England and Wales). Overall cold with frequent fog. There were some severe frosts in the north at first, but it was warm at the end: 18.9C was recorded at Greenwich on the 28th. The pressure reached 1047 mbar over southern England on on the 16th. Sunny in the west but dull in the east.
1960 Near average, but the first in a sequence of 17 consecutive warmer-than-average months. Nevertheless there were two heavy snowfalls in the north midmonth. It was very warm at the end of the month, with 17.8C recorded at Herne Bay.
1961 A very mild month (6.9C CET - the mildest since 1945, and the next time one was warmer was 1990), with mostly unsettled westerlies. The temperature reached 18.3C in Bromley, London on the 14th, a record for the first half of February (but see 1998). It was stormy on the 26th, when a gust of wind of 116 mph was recorded at Tiree.
1962 Mostly mild, but with some severe storms. Sunny in the SE. There were gales on the 11-12th. Then a severe westerly gale damaged Sheffield on the 16-17th; two-thirds of the houses in the city were reported as suffering some damage, and three people were killed. 98 houses had to be demolished. Gusts of over 80 kn were claimed, with a maximum gust of 96 mph reported. This is an example of a "lee wave" wind, where wind is increased by hills (here the Pennines): a strong westerly air flow is deflected upwards by the hills until it reaches a warm layer where it can ascend no further; it is then reflected downwards. The air becomes stratified because turbulence is suppressed, and standing waves form. The wind at Sheffield averages more than 70 mph between 6 and 7 am; at Manchester, west of the Pennines, the average was only 39 mph. In the same gale a gust of 119 mph was reported at at Lowther Hill (Lanarkshire) and 177 mph at Saxa Vord (Shetland). At Southwold the sea reached the high-water mark at low tide; fortunately the storm surge and high tide did not coincide. Things were worse however in Europe, where 340 people drowned in the Hamburg area. There was a significant snowfall in London on the 26th in a short cold snap. There were gales on the 27th in the SE.
1963 Very cold, and part of the Big Freeze (-0.7C CET). We have not otherwise had two consecutive months beneath freezing in the twentieth century. The cold continued into March. Again, the prevailing easterlies gave some high sunshine totals in the west (e.g. 135 hours at Sellafield). Much of the country lay covered in snow all month. The month begain with cold NNE winds, giving more light snow across the south. There were some very low temperatures in some coastal regions on the 4th and 5th: -17.8C at Coltishall (Norfolk) early on the 5th. There was a phenomenal snowstorm on the 6-7th affected mainly the west (the SW, Wales, Northern Ireland), and gave 1.5 m of lying snow at Tredegar (Monmouthshire; quoted at the time as "5 1/2 feet"). This is the record snow depth for an urban area of the UK. There were some slight thaws mid month: there was an appreciable thaw on the 9th, mas winds turned briefly to the south; and some places in the south had a thaw of 4 hours on Valentine's Day, as the temperatures struggled up to 1C, before it started snowing again.
1964 An anticyclonic month, but not particularly cold. The pressure reached 1047 mbars in the SE of England on the 5th. A foggy month.
1965 Cold and dull. It was very dry: a great anticyclone persisted from 23 January to 27 February. As the high retreated, a very cold, snowy spell began, persisting into March.
1966 Some cold weather in Scotland mid-month, with -20C at Balmoral on the 15th, and -17C at Turnhouse (near Edinburgh). At the same time, places in southern England were frost-free. It was very mld towards the end of the month, with sunshine and a southerly wind. Overall a very mild month in the CET series.
1967 Quite mild.
1968 Cold and largely dry but with some heavy snowfalls. There was a particularly heavy snowstorm over the west Midlands on the 5th. Heavy snow fell at Keele for 12 hours, giving 37 cm. Crewe station was blocked. Many roads blocked, particularly in Staffs. Up to 45 cm of snow in some places. There was widespread disruption to traffic in Birmingham; but only a little way away, in Nottingham, the precipitation fell as rain. I don't remember these events at all - nor do I remember snow from the following February. Apparently it wasn't that cold, and not really predicted. In fact, rather oddly, I can't remember any snow in the 60s other than 1963.
1969 A cold month (CET of 1.0C), with frequent northerly and easterly winds, and some heavy snow. The low-level wind record of 118 kn (135.8mph) 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.
1970 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.
1971 Slightly milder than average. Quite a dry month everywhere apart from NW Scotland; just 10 mm of rain were recorded at York and 15 mm at Worthing all month. The month had a mild start, with 15C in the NE on the 3rd.
1972 The Siberian high that had brought late January's cold snap retreated on the 1st, replacing the polar continental air with mild westerlies, not before the lowest temperature of the year was recorded with -18.3C at Corbridge (Northumerland) on 1 February.
1973 Anticyclonic and foggy at first, then with alternating spells of cold and mild weather as winds changed between the mild west and the cold north. There was a severe spell midmonth, with snow and frost, and a minimum of -21C at Carnwath (Lanarks.) on the 15th. On average, a very northwesterly month.
1974 Mild (5.4C) - the mildest February of the 70s. It was also unsettled and often stormy. On the 11th the pressure fell to 959 mbars overs NW Scotland.
1975 Slightly milder than average.
1976 Very dry, but slightly milder than usual.
1977 Mild (5.2C CET) - the second mildest of the 70s (after 1974). Wet in the midlands and southwest, with flooding.
1978 Generally quite a cold (CET 2.8C) and snowy month. The start of the month was mild and unsettled. It then became very cold for two weeks from the 7th as a large anticyclone over Scandinavia directed easterly winds our way: the classic great cold setup. Snow showers in the east: 15 cm in parts of Kent by the 9th, 30 cm at Newcastle by the 13th. There were some exceptional blizzards as depressions ran close to the south, particularly in the southwest on the 18th-20th, centred on the 19th. 34 cm of snow at Exeter and Cardiff, with 8m drifts. 1m fell on Dartmoor. Snow fell over much of the south and Midlands. The great southwest blizzard was one of the great blizzards of this century, with the loss of several lives. Devon was particularly badly hit, by disruption extended to Hampshire and Wiltshire. Many places were cut off; Lynmouth until the 24th, and Hawkrdige on Exmoor remained cutoff until the 27th. Some low temperatures too, with many places beneath freezing throughout this cold period. -21C at Braemar on the 15th; and -17C at Edinburgh on the 17th, its equal record low; and the lowest of all, -22 at Keith (Grampian) on the 20th. Heavy freezing rain fell in Surrey on the 20th. The thaw set in about the 23rd: up to 15C in London. The rapid thaw caused flooding.
1979 There were alternating snowy and mild spells in the south. There was much snow on the 12th as fronts moved northwards into the cold block: there was 15 cm of snow by the evening in the south Pennines. Blizzards. A storm surge hit Portland Bill on the 13th, cutting off the Bill for several hours, and giant waves carrying cars from the seafront car park. The most severe weather of the whole winter struck between the 14-16th. On the 14th heavy snow and cold northeasterlies to easterlies gave blizzards in the east. At midday in Tynemouth the temperature was -3C with a wind of 50 mph. Cold, snow, wind; enormous snow drifts, low visibilities: whiteout! What fun. The 15th was particularly cold and snowy: large drifts in the east, with many places cut off, particularly in Lincolnshire. Many parts of the southeast remained below freezing from the 14-20th. Many places in the east, southeast, and Midlands were cut off for several days, with power cuts (which is what I hate most about snow and wind). A cold month overall, although not extraordinarily so (1.2C CET).
1980 Quite mild, but not remarkably so. The month had a cold frost start, with some snow, particularly in the north and midlands on 1, 2 and 3rd. It then became particularly mild from the 8th to the 23rd, with southerly or southwesterly winds, although it was dull. London saw 15C on the 15th.
1981 Heavy snowfall across Wales and the Midlands on 22-23rd; up to 30 cm in places.
1982 Slightly more mild than average. What a pathetic end to a wonderful winter!
1983 Dry and cold, much snow midmonth, particularly in the east. -14.2C was recorded at Lagganlia on the 19th.
1984 Westerly in the south at the start of the month, then anticyclonic from the 8th. There was a maximum of 13.5C at Great Malvern on the 4th. It was much colder in the north, with some sharp frosts on the first (e.g. -9.2C at Eskdalemiuir). Stormy first week. There was snow over Scotland at the start of the month, with many roads closed by drifts. There were gales on the 6th, with more snow in the north, and a severe gale on the 8th, with much damage and death by falling masonry in London. A gust of 106 mph was recorded at the Point of Ayre (Isle of Man) on the 8th. It then became anticyclonic with some sharp frosts in the south midmonth. Overall slightly colder than normal.
1985 Overall, anticyclonic, dry, and cool (2.1C CET). The first week was mild. There was a very cold spell starting on the 7th, with heavy snow in the south on the 8th and 9th. Then strong easterly winds brought beneath-freezing temperatures. In some parts of the south from the 9-13th the highest temperature was -4C. In some parts of the country the temperature only climbed above freezing on the 19th. It was sunny at the end of the month.
1986 Extremely cold (-1.1C CET), with frequent light snowfalls. The second coldest February of the century (after 1947), and fourth coldest month of the twentieth century overall (and the last time a month had a mean beneath zero before December 2010). The month was similar to January 1963 in being a completely blocked month, with a high centred over north Russia bringing some very cold air east. Winds were easterly for 23 days, and were of virtual calm for the remaining days. It was the most easterly month on record apart from February 1947. Easterly winds had already set in by the end of January. Snow cover was widespread in the east, where it was very dull: Cupar (Fife) registered only 41 hours sunshine all month. In the west it was very dry and sunny (144 hours sunshine on Anglesey, higher than summer months there; with no measurable rain at all in some western coastal sites). The lowest temperature was at Grantown-on-Spey, where it reached -21.2C on the 27th. The month was most remarkable for the consistently low maxima; the temperature remained beneath 1C at Buxton (Derbyshire) all month. The lowest temperature around Birmingham was -11.0C, at Elmdon, on the 21st, and the highest, just 3.8C on the 28th. There was freezing rain in the north Midlands. Up to 50 mm of glaze was recorded on broken power lines at Buxton on the 2nd. Widdybank Fell, at 513 m above sea level in County Durham, remained beneath freezing all month, and had a total of 32 consecutive days beneath zero - probably a record for a habited area. I remember our toilet freezing and a six inch icicle growing out of the cistern overflow. I reckon this is the last time I experienced a temperature beneath -10C. The cold persisted into early March. For some reason I find that February 1986 is often "the forgotten month" when one talks about extreme winters in Britain. Perhaps this is because there wasn't any widespread serious disruption due to heavy snow over a wide area, perhaps because there weren't any record-breaking low temperatures, and perhaps because the rest of the winter was unexceptional. Indeed, some parts of the country had no snow at all. Nevertheless, it was the coldest month since January 1963. It was also the secobd driest February of the century. Hence I make this the most interesting February of the century.
1987 Mild for the first ten days, then cold until the last couple of days. On the 28th London reached 16C, its warmest February day since 1961.
1988 Unsettled, sunny, quite mild (4.9), but with cold end. Stormy and wet beginning, with some snow. Strong gale in the north and west on the 9th, with damaging gusts of 90 mph. Many places had record sunshine totals: 144 hours on the south coast.
1989 Extremely mild, generally wet, with some exceptional gales in the north. 300mm of rain in northwest Scotland, with flooding in Inverness. Heavy rainfall on the 5th and 6th led to flooding in the Highlands; the 127 year old rail bridge over the Ness at Inverness was swept away. A record low-level gust of wind of 142 mph was set at Fraserburgh (Kinnaird Lighthouse) during a storm on the 13th. On the 25th a depression with a maximum depth of 948 mbar crossed the south cost of England. The pressure reading of 952 mbar in London was the lowest since Christmas Day 1821.
1990 The equal mildest of the century (7.3C CET, with 1998). A very warm spell 22-24th. The record high for February this century was set at March (Cambs.) on the 23rd, where 19.2C was attained, and possibly 19.4C at Buxton (Norfolk), with a warm air mass, clear skies, and sunshine. (This record was broken eight years later.) Even 16.3C was reached at Lossiemouth in Moray, Serious flooding of Towyn after the sea wall broke. Very wet, with some severe gales. Parts of western Scotland had the wettest February on record. Flooding in the Severn valley at the start of the month, following heavy rain and gales on the 1st. Snow caused disruption further north. There was lightning damage to a block of flats in Cardiff. More heavy rain and gales on the 4th. Some notable storms on the 7-8, particularly affecting the Thames and Severn valleys. Gales and rain affected the north and the west on the 17th. The worst storm was on the 26th; St. Abbs head recorded a gust of 100 mph. Towyn (north Wales) was partly evacuated after flooding and for fear of the large waves. The Severn bore reached its highest level for 80 yrs.The lowest temperature of the whole year was attained this month: -8.4C (at Grantown-on-Spey) on the15th; this is the highest yearly minimum on record.
1991 A very cold first half in the south, but mild second half. Overall temperature: CET average of 1.5. There was a notable ten day cold spell at the beginning, as NE winds brought in some very cold air from north Russia, leading to snow across most of Britain and some very low temperatures, making this the most severe spell of weather since 1987 (until 2010). The cold air arrived from Siberia on the 4th, with temperatures falling on the 5th and 6th, with the 7-9th as the coldest days. Barbourne (Hereford & Worcs.) recorded -15.6C on the 14th; Cawood (North Yorks.) had the lowest at -16.0 on the 14th. There was much powdery snow over England in this period, with some places having 48 hours of snowfall; snow depths of 30 cm+ were widespread, particularly in the NE: 50 cm at Bradford and Longframlington. Even London had 20 cm of snow, the deepest cover since December 1962. The temperature in many places did not rise above freezing from the 5-10th. Some places in the southeast had the coldest February day of the century on the 7th, with maxima around -6C, and very low maxima were widespread: it reached -5.7 at Bastreet (Cornwall), -5.2C at Whipsnade (Deds.), and at Brighton. The minimum at Guernsey airport on the 7th was -7.2, the equal low for February. On the 8th the maximum at Princetown (Dartmoor) was -6.0C. There were many injuries from falls on ice and sledging accidents, and a woman in Dartford received severe head injuries from falling icicles. It was the last time that most of Britain had snow cover until 2010. This was the infamous "wrong type of snow" for British Rail: dry and powdery. The thaw caused flooding in north Yorkshire. Milder air and a thaw arrived in all parts on the 15th, with Torquay recording 12.6C. An anticyclone enabled a thaw by day, with some sharp frosts at night, until the 19th, when it became unsettled. There were 133 mm of rain in mid-Wales on the 22nd..
1992 Mild and dry except in western Scotland.
1993 Very dry (the driest since 1959, and in some places since 1934). A very anticyclonic month. Rainfall average of 10% expected total in the south. Very dull: 16 days without sun from the 3rd to 18th in the Midlands. Very warm in northeast Scotland. Notable storm surge on the 21st caused flooding along the North Sea coasts, with Norfolk particularly badly affected.
1994 Wet. Slightly cooler than average, with cold and snowy spell mid-month. A mild unsettled start. From the 11th, SE winds brought cold air to Britain. The 14th was particularly cold, beneath freezing over much of Britain in a strong easterly wind; the maximum in Dunkeswell (East Devon) was only -3.5C. A snowstorm caused rush hour chaos in London. Heavy snow across the north and Wales on the 15th, depositing up to 10cms. The snow showers in this spell were often accompanied by thunder; there was lightning damage in Newcastle on the 21st. Less cold in the south 16-19th. It was very cold with severe frosts and freezing fog in the north; -13.8C recorded at Strathallan, near Perth on the 17th following a maximum of only -2.7C on the 16th. The cold spell ended around the 23rd, with more snow (15 cm in Nottingham). Overall, it was very dull wet in north-east Scotland.
1995 Very wet and very mild (6.5). Notable hailstorm with thunder across the southeast on the 22nd.
1996 Cold (2.5C CET), wet with frequent snow, but also very sunny: parts of the southwest had the sunniest February this century. The lowest temperature for February 1996 was -14.5C at Camps Reservoir (Strathclyde) on 1 February. There was a blizzard in the northwest on the 5th: heavy snow in the NW of England and SW of Scotland. Lancaster was particularly badly affected. 13cm of level snow, with 2m drifts. The 6th was a cold day, -1.2C max at Hazelrigg (Lancs.). The duration of snow was from 5pm on the 5th until just before midnight on the night of the 6-7th. There were 70 mm of rain in 36 hours around the 11th in the Aberdeen region. There was more snow across the south on the night of the 19-20th.
1997 Unsettled, windy, and very mild (6.7). Generally wet, particularly in the northwest. Sunny in the east and dull in the west.
1998 Extremely mild (7.3C CET); indeed, equal with 1990 as the mildest this century. Particularly mild in the English Midlands and central Scotland. Cold end in the north. Very dry in the south, but wet in western and northern Scotland. Parts of the southeast had the sunniest February of the century. In an exceptionally mild spell mid-month (12-15th) of warm and sunny weather, the new record high for February was set: 19.7C at Greenwich (London) on the 13th, and also 19.6C in Worcester. Tivington made 19.1C on the 14th, and Prestatyn 18.1C on the 15th, but high temperatures were wide-spread as a result of warm air and warm sunshine (an unusual combination for mild winter days) 13C was exceeded somewhere in the country every day from the 8th to the 20th. The high temperatures also occurred in the middle of the month.
1999 Slightly warmer than average (provisional 5.3C CET); a mix of arctic northwesterlies with milder interludes. Mild in the south, but cold and snowy in the far north. Severe spells 5-11 in the north, and 8-14th in the south. The most northwesterly February since 1973. Mostly dry, except for the far north. Places sheltered from the NWs were very sunny (e.g. eastern and central Scotland, NE England).
2000 Very sunny, mild, changeable, and wet. Particularly wet in the north and west, and particularly sunny in the south and east. Quite dry in places in the east. Yet another mobile westerly winter month, with the only real cold snap of note from the 16-18th in the north, when -8 was recorded on the 17th at Redesdale (Northumberland), with some snow. 16C recorded at Chelmsford on the 8th. Across most of southern England the temperature exceeded 8C every day of the month, the first time this has happened. Windy at times, too. A completely westerly month. So that's another winter gone.
2001 Wet and sunny; particularly wet in the SE. The month began with a cold, snowy spell in the north, while it was very wet and mild in the south. Cold easterly winds brought severe weather from the 2nd to 10th in the north. There was a notable blizzard in the north on the 4th, with two days of heavy snow in eastern Scotland and NE England; 40 cm of snow, with 60 cm at Aboyne (Aberdeen). Then mild and anticyclonic: generally dry from the 13-25th. The pressure of 1046 mb on the 17th was the highest February pressure since 1979. The month had a cold, snowy end. There were 33 cm of snow near Durham on the morning of the 28th. There were even 3 cm of snow on Scilly in the evening and night of the 28th - the first significant snow since 1986. In some places in the north of England it was an extremely sunny month. Overall, the coldest February since 1996, although absolutely temperatures were about the long-term average; it was colder and wintrier in Scotland.
2002 Just the sort of winter month I hate. Very mild, wet, and windy (particularly in the NW) - but not extraordinarily so. The spell 13 January to 12 February was exceptionally mild, with much of the country 5C above average. The second half of the month was much normal. Sadly, a lot above average plus average equals just above average. The month had a stormy start. Very mild and wet first week. Ebbw Vale had 143.8 mm of rain in the first two days, 108.3 mm of it on the 1st, with flooding in the area. It was quite wet, particularly in the NW, with Capel Curig recording 600 mm of rain. There was a short cold snap from the 23-25th, with drifting snow in north Scotland. There were gales in the south on the 26th. Overall, rainfall was 75% above average, so it was the wettest since 1990, although it was quite dry in parts of eastern England and very wet in north Wales, NW England, and SW Scotland. My main memory of it however was the lack of snow: surely we must have a real winter some when?
2003 A dry, sunny, mostly anticyclonic month, with only 60% of the expected rainfall (39 mm). It was particularly dry in the east: Stonehaven had only 8 mm of rain. Also a very sunny month: the sixth sunniest February on record. Hunstanton saw 133 hours of sunshine, and the average for England and Wales was 133 hours. The last month better was 2000, which won only because of the presence of a leap day. Average temperatures overall. A cold start, with some heavy snow in places. East Anglia saw 10 cm on the 1st, and 25 cm in the Scottish Highlands during the 3-5th. -10.9C at Tulloch Bridge on the 5th. There was a relative humidity of only 7% at Great Dun Fell on the 17th. It was 15.7C in London on the 26th.
2004 Overall slightly warmer than average, and quite dry. After a cold beginning, the first half was very mild, and the second very northerly. The first half was the warmest since 1869 and the second half the coldest since 1986. There was a snowy start in the north, then very mild, as the winds turned from the N to the SW. The maximum of 17.9C at Gravesend on the 4th is the highest ever for the first week of February; it even reached 16.7C at Lossiemouth on the 3rd. The overnight minimum of 13.2C at Chivenor (north Devon) on the 2-3rd was also a new February record high minimum for England. The start of the month was also very wet. At Capel Curig (Snowdonia), 165 mm of rain fell in 24 hours on the 2-3rd; 274 mm fell in three days (2-5th); and the weekly total was 418 mm. (Note that this weekly total was more than the average yearly total of some parts of the southeast!) It became much colder at the start of the second week, with another Arctic plunge. After a milder interlude the last ten days were cold and dry, with some snow showers, particularly affecting the NE of England on the 27-28th. Snow fell most days from the 21st on. Sunny except in the far N - the sunniest on record in Belfast.
2005 Another month of two halves, but overall just about average temperatures. The first half was very mild. The second half of the month however saw the most prolonged wintry spell for some time, and we have to go back to the legendary 1986 for a comparable cold second half of February. The warmest day was 14.1C in central London on the 12th, and the coldest night -11.4C at Kinbrace (Sutherland) early on the 25th. The temperature fell to -9.5C at Redhill on the 27-28th, the coldest February reading since 1991. It was a dry month, particularly in the south; Portsmouth had just 8 mm of precipitation. Parts of the east had more rain, particularly as snow. There were some notable snow events across the country. There were substantial falls in southern Scotland on the 24th, and in the SE on the 25th and 27th. Kent was particularly badly affected in the south.
2006 Average temperatures overall, with a cold beginning and end but mild middle. Quite dry and the dullest since 1993, and very dull in the east. However, there were no very warm days - the highest temperature of the month was 13.2 in County Tyrone, the lowest February maximum since 1986. A dry beginning. In the first few days there were some "frost days" for the first time in a while. The lowest temperature of the month was -11.5C at Braemar on the 1st; the maximum at Dunkeswell (Devon) was -2.9C on the 3rd. Parts of north London (e.g. Northolt) had no rain for 22 days ending on the 7th. The anticyclonic gloom was followed by a short northerly spell. After an unsettled spell starting on the 10th, with rain, a cold NE wind persisted from the 20th until the end of the month. There was some snow on the 23rd and 24th and more on the 27th, particularly in the north and east.
2007 Mild and wet - both the warmest and wettest since 2002. A cold snap from the 6th, with snow over much of the country, and disruptive falls in the south on the 7th and Midlands and Wales on the 9th. The highest temperature of the month was 14.7C at Aberdeen on the 1st, the lowest -10.7C at Altnaharra on the 9th. The first month was quite dry and very sunny, the rest of the m0nth wet and quite dull. It was particularly wet in the west and south, with and England and Wales average of 107 mm. Princetown (Dartmoor) saw 352 mm.
2008 Extremely sunny - the sunniest month since records began, averaging 130 hours over England and Wales, 64% above average, easily beating the previous record of 117 hours of 1891 and 1949. Some places in the south and east had more than twice the average amount of sunshine. Overall it was slightly warmer than average, with some very warm days and frosty nights. It was also a dry month, with an average of 41 mm. It was particularly dry in the southeast. There was a cold snowy start as Arctic air floods south. Vehicles stuck in snow on the A66 in Country Durham on the 1st. The cold weather doesn't last long though. It then becomes very mild and sunny as pressure builds - although East Scotland of course manages to avoid the sun, for a while. Midmonth high pressure rules, with some dense fog, morning frost, and some very high temperatures, particularly in Wales and the Northwest. Trawsgoed (Dyfed) records 18.2C on the 12th. With freezing fog, there were some cold days around the 19th; the maximum at Dishforth (Yorks.) was just -2.9C. The lowest temperature of the month was -10.7C at Copley (Durham) on the 21st. An earthquake (magnitude 5.3 on the Richter scale, with an epicentre near Market Rasen in Lincolnshire) is felt over much of England in the early hours of the 27th (the strongest since the 5.4 earthquake in North Wales on 19 July 1984).
2009 Very cold first half, mild second half, averaging out to about the long-term average temperature. Overall it was slightly drier than average, with 81% of the long-term average rainfall. Unusually it was very wet in the southeast and dry in the west, apart from the far southwest. In many western places it was the driest February since 1986. There was less sunshine than average (83%), making it the dullest February since 1994. There was a very cold and snowy first half. At the start of the month easterly winds being very cold air from Scandinavia. On the night of 1-2 February there are significant snowfalls in the southeast. Transport chaos naturally ensues. There is nore widespread snow on Monday 2nd, making this the most significant snowfall event in the London area since February 1991. There were then some very sharp frosts, with -18.4C recorded at Aviemore on the night of 8-9th (the lowest minimum in the UK since March 2001), with the maximum at Altnaharra the next day being -5.7C. More snow caused widespread disruption in the north and east on the 12th. It became much milder around the 14th. 16.9 was recorded at a non-standard Canterbury on the 27th (with 15.4C at Kew).
2010 Overall colder than average, particularly in the north. Easterly winds were common. It was -19.2C at Braemar on the 22nd-23rd. On the 23rd there was a very high range, from the -19.2C at Braemar to +12.5 at Jersey and 11.1C at Scilly. The highest temperature of the month was 12.3C at Kew o the 5th. There were frequent light snowfalls in the month, but there was a major snowfall in Scotland on the 24-26th, with 18" of snow at Aviemore, perhaps more in places. It was slightly wetter than average, with 122% (79 mm)of the expected rainfall over England and Wales. The southeast, unusually, was the wettest part of the country - Folkestone had 167 mm of rain, while parts of the west Midlands were the driest. It was slightly duller than usual in England, but sunnier in Scotland. It was brighter and drier though in Northern Ireland.
2011 Generally mild but dull. It was the mildest February since 2002. The highest maximum was 15.5C at Writtle (Essex) on the 25th, the lowest minimum -6.5C at Altnaharra on the morning of the 11th. It was wetter than average, with 84 mm average across England and Wales (132%). It was very wet in Scotland (116 mm, 183%). It was wetter in the west and drier in the southeast. Average England and Wales sunshine was 50 hours, just 65% of the mean; it was sunnier in the north, duller in the southeast.
2012 A very anticyclonic month with some extremes of temperature. Overall slightly colder than average. Average England and Wales rainfall was 31.0 mm, 47% of the average, the driest since 1998. Shoeburyness (Essex) saw just 6 mm in total. It was slightly less sunny than average, with 79 hours (95%), though it was the sunniest February since 1998. Northern Ireland was particularly dull, with just 44% of the average. Southampton was the sunniest place to be with 106 hours. The month had a cold and snowy first half with some very cold days and severe frost. There was some widespread freezing rain on Thursday 9th across the west, and snow in the east. The snow was followed by a severe frost in the east, with a minimum of -15.6C at Holbeach and -18.3C at Chesham (Bucks.) on the night of the 10-11th (the lowest February minimum in England since 1986, followed by a maximum of just -5.4C at Coningsby (Lincoln) on Saturday 11th. It was much milder from the third week; just a bit later after the extreme cold temperatures, on Thursday 23rd we saw some widespread high temperatures with warm and warm sunshine, culminating in 18.7C at Coleshill (Birmingham) - failing to beat the 1998 record though. There were some very high readings coming close to the February record for Scotland on the 28th, with Aberdeen recording 17.2C.
2013 A cool month, but not exceptionally so; nevertheless the coldest since 1996. The first half was unsettled, the second half anticyclonic and dry. There was a widespread snowfall on the 10th - 11th. The highest temperature of the month was 13.9C at Kinlochewe Wester Ross, on the 17th, and the lowest -10.0C at Aviemore on the 22nd. It was a dry month, with the average England and Wales rainfall total being 49.0 mm (75%), with most of the rain in the first fortnight. Sunshine totals were average in the south, but it was a sunny month in Scotland, with a particularly sunny second half.
2014 The most cyclonic month on record, so very windy, mild, and wet. The mildest day was the 24th where several stations in the London area recorded 14.9C; the coldest night was the 17th with -7.7C at Altnaharra. England and Wales rainfall averaged 213%, making it the wettest rainfall since 1990. There were severe gales on the 12th and 14th. Overall it was a sunny month, although it was very dull in NW England and SW Scotland.
2015 Overall temperatures were about average. The first week was cold, and the final week mild. The highest temperature of the month was 15.6C at Fyvie Castle (Aberdeenshire) on the 17th, and the lowest minimum -10.8C at Dalwhinnie. It was quite a dry month, with 61.8 mm (61%) average for England and Wales. It was wettest in the NW. It was very sunny: the sunniest since 2008, with 95.5 hours (117%).
2016 An unsettled first half but turning colder in the second half. Overall it was about average temperature; it was warmer than usual in the south, but colder than average in Northern Ireland and Scotland. The lowest temperature of the month is -14.1C at Braemar early on the 14th, the lowest temperature in the UK since February 2012. The highest temperature of the month was 16.0 at Exeter on the 21st. It was a wet month (129% of average), being particularly wet in the west but drier in the east. It was a sunny month, with 122% of expected sunshine. 2017 Quite mild - the ninth warmest since 1910. Particularly mild in the south. It was slightly wetter than average (106%). A dull month (79%) except in NW Scotland, where it was very sunny. After a SW mild start it became colder and anticyclonic from the 4th, with easterly winds and occasional snow. It turned milder from the 13th but stayed quiet until the 21st. Named Storm Doris bought gales to England and Wales on the 23rd, and snow to parts of Scotland. The highest temperature of the month was 18.3C at Northolt and at Kew Gardens in London on the 20th, and the lowest -9.8C at Altnaharra on the 11th.
2018 A cold month (2.9 CET), making it the coldest February since 2010. The month ended with the arrival of very cold air from Russia on a strong easterly, nicknamed "The Beast from the East" by the press. Also a very sunny month, the second sunniest on record (137%, after 2008), particularly in the southwest (over 170% of the long-term average). It was quite a dry month, with 73% of average rainfall. The highest temperature was 14.2C at Cardiff on the 19th, and the lowest -11.7C at south Farnborough (Hants.) and -14.2C at Faversham (Kent) on the 28th. The 12-13th was a wet day, with 49.6 mm of rainfall at Loch Shiell (Argyle). On the 28th the snow depth was 21 cm at Copley (Durham).
2019 Very mild - at 6.7 C CET the mildest since 2002. The mean maxima were particularly high, but the overall mean was brought down by some cool nights, even in the very mild spell at the end of the month. However the month started cold with some severe frosts and snow for the first day or so. A minimum temperature of -15.4C was recorded at Braemar on the 1st. Winds then switched to the west, southwest, and south, bringing warmth and sand deposits form Africa.There was a record-breaking mild spell mid-month. On Thursday 21 Scotland's record maximum (since 1897) was broken, with 18.3C recorded at Aboyne (Aberdeenshire). On the 22nd a new Welsh record is set with 18.1C at Gogerddan (Cardigan Bay), and then broken again with 19.1 on the 24th also at Gogerddan. On Monday the 25th 20.6C broke the 20C record in Trawgoedd (and 20.4 in Northolt, London). It Tuesday 26th was then exceptional: 21.2C at Kew Gardens in London, and 20.8 in Porthmadog (Wales). It was often very sunny too. The fine weather broke down on the final day of the month. Overall it was extremely sunny (144%), being the second sunniest on record (after 2008) and quite dry (82%), particularly in the east, especially in East Scotland. Extraordinarily then the month saw temperatures range from -15.4 to +21.2.
2020 Extremely wet with three large storm systems. It was the wettest February on record, with 237% of average overall, and over 40% in placs. It was slightly milder than usual, particularly in the south. Two storms (Ciara and Dennis) brought strong winds and heave rain midmonth. There was widepsread flooding, particularly in Yorkshire, parts of Wales, and the Severn valley and its tributaries. Such descriptions cannot do just do the misery such weather brings. Sunshine was 104% of average: dull in the west but brighter in the east. The highest temperature of the month was 16.0C at East Malling (Kent) on the 16th, and the lowest -10.2C at Braemar on the 13th. 180.4 mm fell in the recording day at Honister Pass in Cumbria on the 19-20th. There was some snow, particularly on hills on the north.
2021 Cold first half, very mild second half, making for a near average month overall, which hides a very cold, snowy spell, particularly in the east, midmonth. A wet month, with 116% of average rainfall, and near average sunshine overall. The highest temperature of the month was 18.4C at Santon Downham (Suffolk) on the 24th, and a minimum of -23.0C at Braemar on the 11th. A snow depth of 38 cm was recorded at Aboyne (Aberdeenshire) on the 10th. 125.8 mm of rain fell at Honister Pass (Cumbrai) on the 23-24th. The far north of Scotland was particularly sunny and dry, with Shetland being 54% sunnier than average.
February in history
1461 At the Battle of Mortimer's Cross on 2 February, in the Wars of the Roses, King Edward IV interpreted "three suns in the firmament shining clear" as a symbol of the Trinity, and rallied his troops to victory. The three suns were probably the sun surrounded by mock suns, caused by ice crystals.
1579 It must have been a very cold month; a depth of 2' of snow was reported around London, with much more in drifts. The snow started around the 4th and carried on until the 8th. A thaw on the 10th led to severe flooding.
1674 On the 25th a great snowstorm began in the morning and continued for four days in the Bradford region.
1684 Very cold (-1.0C CET); the second month in a row beneath freezing in the coldest winter on record, "the great winter" - and in the middle of the Maunder minimum of sunspot records. This was the "Lorna Doone winter".
1697 A severe month in a severe winter in a decade of severe winters.
1740 Very cold (-1.6): part of the second most severe winter on record, called "The great frost".
1779 The warmest ever (7.9).
1791 A great gale affected the east English coast around the 27th.
1795 Cold (+0.8), part of a severe winter.
1814 As the cold winter finished on the 7th February, so the last Frost Fair on the Thames came to an end. The construction of a new London Bridge in 1831, with much wider arches, greatly reduced the probability of the Thames freezing. Furthermore, the Little Ice Age was on its way out.
1825 There was a very severe storm on the 4th.
1833 The wettest on record (158.6 mm, 244%).
1852 On the 5th, following several weeks of heavy rain, the dam holding the Bilbery Reservoir, near Holmfirth (now West Yorks.) collapsed. The flooding killed 81 people.
1855 Very cold (-1.7). Very heavy snowfalls in Scotland.
1859 Notable fall of fish in a lumberyard at Mountain Ash (Glamorgan).
1869 Very mild (7.5).
1886 Cold and very dry.
1887 Very dry.
1891 Very mild and sunny, and exceptionally dry, and very foggy at first. The England and Wales average was only 3.6mm, and many stations recorded no measurable rainfall at all. Llandudno made 19.4C in the last week (27th), an all-time record for February until 1998 and then 2019. Harestock (Hants.) then made 18.9C on the 28th. This is the driest of any month on record. The second half of the month was warm, reaching 18C in places, very sunny, and with low humidity levels. This mild month was then followed by a cold and snowy March.
1894 The record daily rainfall for the month of 196.6mm was set at Ben Nevis on the 6th
1895 Part of a severe winter, and the coldest February on record before 1947 this century (-1.8C CET). The weather turned cold in late December 1894; January was cold but the weather of February 1895 was historic Braemar logged at least -20C on 9 days. The record February low, and equal all-time record low (along with 1982 and 1995) temperature of -27.2C was set on the 11th at Braemar. The Thames froze in places, disrupting shipping, and on the 28th the River Mersey was frozen from shore to shore. There were some very low daytime maxima. Temperatures were very cold further south, too. -19.6C at Rounton in Yorkshire on 10 February. The Isle of Man recorded its lowest ever temperature on the 9th and 12th, with -11.7C at Douglas.
1897 The maximum February temperature for Scotland, 17.9C, was achieved this month at Aboyne (holding until 2019).
1898 There was a severe snowstorm in the SW on the 21-22nd.
1899 It reached 18.9C at Brixton on the 10th, and 18.5C at Camden Square.
British weather in February