Heavy Snowfall Halts Britain - UPDATED

ANOTHER WEATHER WARNING: Yet more snow is expected to fall by the dawn on Wednesday 20th January forecasters are promising, causing chaos for the morning rush-hour. Be warned!

WEATHER WARNING: More heavy snow is expected to fall late evening on Tuesday 12th January. Forecasters predict amounts of perhaps four inches (10cms) in the Longhope area. (See below for the latest story.)

Once more, Britain has come to a standstill because of heavy snow. In what is said to be the longest prolonged spell of cold weather in almost 30 years, people have had an extra day off work and most of the local schools are closed.

Here in Longhope, snow started falling heavily at about 11-30 yesterday morning, relented for a time in the afternoon, but returned with a vengeance overnight. Depths of between five and nine inches accumulated, depending from what part of Longhope you come. During the day, many villagers were out enjoying the scenery, taking their youngsters sledging (who very quickly became grumpy with the cold) or clearing the snow. Some were raiding Shirley's shop for the last newspaper or panic buying an extra pint of milk just in case! The newly re-modelled Recreation Ground was made good use of by using the steep slopes for sledging or just rolling down. Someone even tried to make The Latchen bus shelter into an igloo by making ice blocks in a recycling box, and stacking the blocks up at the entrance to the shelter before they gave up! Some farmers and others with access to tractors cleared some of the lanes leading to the more isolated properties in the village.

The start of this cold spell started on 18th December with the first dusting of snow, which quickly froze over. This was followed on the 23rd December by a more heavy fall of snow, which was later rained on and froze, making many of the village's unsalted roads ice rinks. At least we could enjoy a picturesque white Christmas for the first time in a good many years. This cold spell is set to continue and rumours are that it will be for at least another month.

There is one philosopher in the village who reckons that this cold spell will be similar to the winter of 1981/2, for those of us old enough to remember back that far, when we had exceptional snow falls and snow drifts!! He claims that that winter was due to the major eruption of the volcano of Mt. St. Helens in the USA, which heavily polluted the Earth's upper atmosphere, causing a very mini ice-age and resulted in several cold winters after this date.

What we need to remember, if we are able, if this is going to be a prolonged freeze, is to look out for the vulnerable people in the village. Perhaps check on an elderly neighbour, or clear a pavement or pathway.

13/1/10 Update

As was predicted here yesterday, Longhope has once more come to a standstill with yet another heavy snowfall of between four and six inches (10 - 15 cms). The snow started lightly at 9-00pm last night and became heavier overnight. Once again the local schools were closed, giving the kids more time to get in some serious sledging! Rush-hour commuters were delayed by two jack-knifed lorries blocking the road at Little London. Even though gentle snow continued to fall during the morning, accompanied by fog, there appears to be a very slow thaw setting in as temperatures hover around zero. A gentle thaw is predicted for the next few days, with rain rather than snow falling, although the overnight temperatures will still remain sub-zero, causing early morning ice on the roads and paths.

We British are traditionally a nation of moaners - we moan about the roads not being gritted, even though the council workers have been doing all they can to keep the roads open. (Would you really like to get out of your nice warm bed at 2am when the temperature is minus 7C to drive a lorry around iced up roads?) We moan because our refuse hasn't been collected for two weeks, and we moan because our kids can't go to school for a few days. To put it all into perspective, to wake up to the news this morning of the islanders of Haiti dealing with an earthquake of monumentous proportions; they have lost their homes and in some cases their entire family - everything. And we are fretting about a few snowy weeks - it is winter after all, global warming or not!!

Pictures from 7/1/10

Pictures from 6/1/10

A Bit of History

As has been previously written here, the winter of 1981/2 was the last really cold winter Longhope has seen, with interruptions of milder weather. December 1981 was cold with night-time lows of -13C. There was snow on December 8th, a fall of five inches on December 11th and a blizzard on the afternoon of December 13th. Christmas 1981 saw a sprinkling of snow but by contrast the New Year was very mild. Winter returned with a vengeance the following week and frost was followed by 43 hours' continuous snowfall between January 7th and 9th, which deposited 18 inches (45cm) and led to huge drifts, though not quite as bad as the winter of 1962-63. The coldest night of the 20th century was Wednesday Jan 13th 1982. The temperature fell to -20C at Cheltenham. Thursday January 14th was the coldest ever day of the 20th century. The maximum temperature was -10C, recorded at 1.30pm near Gloucester in freezing fog. The latest snow Gloucestershire has seen in recent years was in 1981 when eight inches (20cm) fell over the weekend of April 25th and 26th. It was wet snow that brought down power lines and also many trees that were already in leaf. In some places the power cuts lasted for two days. Here is a selection of old photos as a reminder of that year. If anyone has any other photos of Longhope suffering in the snow in days of old - perhaps the winter of 1963 or even 1947.....then please send them to us.

The Willows on the estate The Latchen
A40 Ross Road littered with abandoned vehicles A snowdrift
All Saints Church Icicles hanging off gutters were a common sight

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