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13 November 2014

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You are in: London > Weather > Weather Stories > How strange is snow in October?

Ian Currie

Ian Currie, 11pm, Banstead 28th Oct 2008

How strange is snow in October?

Snow in October! Before Halloween? Whatever next? A cold snap this early is something of a rarity – even more so considering the globe is supposed to be warming. But perhaps it's not anything new...The last time Surrey had lying snow was 1887.

By Wendy Hurrell, BBC London weather presenter

It was the year that the nation celebrated Queen Victoria's golden jubilee. We had to wait over 120 years for it to happen again. Wednesday 29th October 2008 will go down in the books as a day the snow settled. Trivial perhaps, compared to a monarch's 50 years on the throne – but unusual nonetheless.

It was the start of April when we last got enough to make a few snow balls. Ian Currie, editor of Weather Eye magazine says: "It is interesting that we had snow on the 6th April this year, several centimetres deep. Therefore the gap between the last and first snow of the year is probably the least since 1919 and probably further back."

"This is a remarkable snowfall considering the arctic ice is much further north now than in the 1880s. There were several October falls up to 30cm deep in 1880. Also sea temperatures are warmer than the 19th century."

And London itself hasn't seen snow falling in October for more than 70 years. Following the showers, temperatures fell to below freezing and the Met Office issued a warning for ice on untreated surfaces.

Across Hertfordshire, the snow damaged power lines and several thousand people were left in the dark for the day. The M40 was shut following a fatal accident earlier in the day in atrocious conditions. 

So is it climate change?

No single weather event can be attributed to climate change. The study of climate takes into account a collection of different measurements over time. Temperature, humidity, rainfall and many other statistics are looked at to see if there are variations in the earth’s climate.

Wendy Hurrell

Wendy Hurrell

Early studies suggest that changes in the earth's climate will lead to more extreme weather. It is hard not to ask 'the climate change question' when in less than three weeks of October, temperatures at London Heathrow have gone from 22C to just 8C with snow and ice. But strange things have always been happening to Britain's climate – even in the reign of Queen Victoria.

last updated: 30/10/2008 at 13:21
created: 30/10/2008

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