River Idle in Nottinghamshire in the snow, 1963

February 8, 2012, by C Fawcett

In The Bleak Midwinter

As the nation shivers in the snow and freezing temperatures, we look back at records from the University’s own weather station that suggest that we shouldn’t complain too much about this season’s sudden cold snap.

In the winter of 1962-1963, Britain was subjected to incomparably harsh weather conditions. The newly established weather station at the University of Nottingham was subjected to a baptism of ice, with equipment registering lows of -14˚C (before even considering wind-chill factors). The elements appear to have timed their onslaught to deprive Britain of a white Christmas, before burying the nation under snow for almost three months. From Boxing Day 1962 until March 1963, staff at the University of Nottingham weather station braved the elements to record this chilling weather event as it unfolded.

In the Central England Temperature (CET) record, extending back to 1659, only the winter of 1683–84 had been significantly colder, with 1739–40 being slightly colder than 1962–63. Our unique archival holdings provide not only the raw data for a national phenomenon, but document a milestone achievement for the University. The graph below shows the Grass Minimum Temperature (recorded in open air just above short turf) for the winter 1962-1963 (click to enlarge):

Weather Station Temperature Record, 1962-63


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