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13 November 2014

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You are in: Gloucestershire > History > History Features > Are cold winters a thing of the past?

Dursley, 1982

Dursley, 1982

Are cold winters a thing of the past?

We all long for a white Christmas but should we ever expect one? BBC Gloucestershire's weather warden Ian Thomas looks at where our cold winters have gone.

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There is no doubt about it that these days our winters are so much milder than in times past.

When comparing this decade to the 1950s and 1960s, winter is now 1.7°C warmer on average.

"True Christmas snowfall in reality belongs to the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, which is how and where our Christmas card scenes were derived."

Ian Thomas

Now that may not sound a lot, but believe me, it is quite considerable in terms of average temperatures.

Prolonged spells of snow and ice have all but vanished for much of southern England and Wales and snow today lies for a day or two, and then melts away.

The last time Gloucestershire was covered in snow for the whole was during Christmas week 200, that’s 8 years ago.

Myth

Snow on Christmas Day is rare enough to be a myth.

There were only five white Christmases in the 20th century and, so far this century, only 2004 actually saw a fall of snow late on Christmas evening (but only in the middle and south of the county).

True Christmas snowfall in reality belongs to the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, which is how and where our Christmas card scenes were derived.

Indeed anybody 40 years of age or less hasn’t experienced or probably can’t remember just what a severe winter is in Britain as the last one was 27 years ago back in 1981-82.

Bagpath, near Tetbury, 1963

Bagpath, near Tetbury, 1963

Standstill

Quite how we would cope with conditions like those of 1947, 1963 or 1982 would be interesting.

This country would, to put it politely, simply fold and stop!

Many forget that snow lay on the ground, not for days, but weeks and months on end and temperatures plummeted to minus double figures Celsius.

Today our lifestyle and work commitments are so much different to 1962-63 or even 1981-82.

We unfortunately rely on our cars to get to work or ferry the offspring to school and back and broadly speaking are a more mobile nation than in the past.

Therefore, the days of walking to work are much less than before as work is often ten miles or more from home.

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It must also be remembered that if global warming kicks in and becomes reality then snow and ice will be confined to the history books (and weather websites).

last updated: 30/12/2008 at 10:34
created: 27/11/2008

You are in: Gloucestershire > History > History Features > Are cold winters a thing of the past?

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