Winter of 2009–2010 in the United Kingdom
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|Winter of 2009–2010|
Satellite photo of Great Britain and Ireland showing the extent of snow cover.
|Starting date||16 December 2009|
|Region affected||United Kingdom (rest of northern Europe)|
|Number of deaths||25 (40,000 indirectly)|
|Economic cost||£700 million|
|Minimum temperature||−22.3 °C (−8.1 °F)|
|Location||Altnaharra, Scottish Highlands|
|Maximum snow depth||57 centimetres (22 in)|
|Location||Westgate, County Durham|
The winter of 2009–2010 in the United Kingdom (also called The Big Freeze by British media) was a meteorological event that started on 16 December 2009, as part of the severe winter weather in Europe. It lasted approximately 4 weeks. A persistent pattern of cold northerly and easterly winds brought cold moist air to the United Kingdom with many snow showers, fronts and polar lows bringing snowy weather with it. The winter weather brought widespread transport disruption, school closures, power failures, caused sporting events to be postponed and 25 deaths. In northern England, 57 centimetres (22 in) of snow was recorded; 47 centimetres (19 in) was recorded in Aviemore, and about 60 centimetres (24 in) was recorded within the Cairngorms National Park. A low of −22.3 °C (−8.1 °F) was recorded in Altnaharra on 8 January 2010.
The Department of Health predicted that up to 40,000 excess deaths could occur because of the coldest weather for over 40 years. The RSA Insurance Group estimated that the cold weather was costing £690 million per day, due to people unable to get to work or deliver goods, among other factors. Extra potholes and burst water pipes are also thought to cost £61 million and £20 million in repairs. Use of natural gas has increased by one third.
By 7 January 2010 twenty-two people had died in the UK because of the freezing conditions.
- London Gatwick Airport, London Heathrow Airport, Birmingham Airport, Cardiff International Airport, London Luton Airport, George Best Belfast City Airport, Southampton Airport, Blackpool International Airport, Newcastle Airport, Durham Tees Valley Airport, Exeter International Airport, Plymouth City Airport and London Stansted Airport, Manchester Airport, Bristol Airport, Leeds Bradford Airport and Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield have all at some point been closed.
- Some train services have run with revised timetables. Trains in Kent were delayed for up to three and a half hours, with hundreds left stranded.
- The A3 road around Horndean (along with the A3(M)) and in the Hindhead area and A1 road were closed. The vast majority of the country suffered disruption on all roads with many minor road closed and only the main motorway and A-road network passable for much of 5, 6 and 7 January.
- Buses on the Isle of Wight, Gloucester, (skeleton service was being run in Gloucester during Wednesday 6 January), and across southern Hampshire were suspended on 5 January owing to heavy snowfall, leaving a large number of people stranded. Limited services were back in operation on 7th January in Southampton and Portsmouth on the mainland and between Newport and the other main towns on the Isle of Wight. All services in Gosport, Fareham, Locks Heath, Titchfield, Whiteley and Warsash areas were suspended and remainded so for two days because of the road condition. As of 8 January, one service was running between Gosport and Fareham and one between Fareham and Southampton (though this service was unable to serve Locks Heath or Titchfield).
- In late December, Eurostar trains from Paris or Brussels towards St. Pancras station were severely delayed, with delays of up to 16 hours. All Eurostar services were cancelled from 19–21 December and delays and service cancellations still continue.
- Aberdeen Airport was briefly closed because of icy weather.
- Cardiff Airport was closed temporarily on 6 January
- North East England A1(M) and A19 suffered adverse conditions, mainly on evenings as a result of temperatures dropping to well below zero. Bus services between Newcastle and Sunderland suffered some disruptions, as local operators suspended services. Local and minor roads were severely effected.
The snowfall in January postponed football games in the English Football League, Premier League, Football League Cup, and FA Cup. There were further postponements in Scotland with fifteen football matches being postponed on 2 January. Football in Northern Ireland was also hit. In rugby union, there were cancellations in the Guinness Premiership, Magners League, the AIB League, the Top 14, a Heineken Cup fixture in Brussels scheduled for 19 December, and a Heineken Cup fixture in Newport. Other affected sports included Gaelic football's O'Byrne Cup, Dr. McKenna Cup, McGrath Cup & FBD League games. The field hockey Irish Junior Cup saw postponements and the prestigious schools cross-country event, the Knole run was cancelled due to heavy snow on the ground.
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Forecasters warned of very heavy snowfall to come. On the 16th, a band of rain moved southwards over the UK which brought some snow. Snow fell in Kent, Surrey, Sussex and Hampshire. This brought some disruption. Day time temperatures where around 0 °C (32 °F) and a low of −7.4 °C (18.7 °F) was recorded in Surrey.
On the 17th, easterly winds brought heavier and persistent snow showers to eastern England and Scotland. Heavy snow showers brought accumulation up to 3 cm in Aberdeenshire, Perth and Kinross and Fife, with some snow showers reaching Glasgow in the afternoon. In Kent, motorists on the A21 were stuck for several hours during the evening and night.
More heavy snow showers followed on the 18th. Heavy overnight snow caused widespread disruption across England in the South East, East Anglia, the East Midlands and Yorkshire and the Humber. East Winds brought further snowfalls in the northern half of the UK. Overnight, five Eurostar trains were stuck in the Channel Tunnel, trapping 2,000 people for 16 hours after electrical failures due to cold temperatures. Many schools in England were closed.
The 19th brought snow to northern areas. The wind changed to a northerly with a front pushing south over Scotland. 3 cm of snow accumulated in northern Scotland, southern Scotland and parts of north and north-east England.
Overnight, north-westerly winds brought snow showers to western, northern and central Scotland, Northern Ireland and northern and western England. Northern and western Scotland had the heaviest snow showers with accumulations up to 15 cm in places in the morning. 3 cm of snow was lying within Glasgow by 9.00am. However during the afternoon and evening, very heavy snowfall occurred across much of Scotland and Northern Ireland which brought accumulations up to 10–15 cm causing school closures and travel disruption the next day.
On the 21st some further snow showers affected some parts of the UK with some particularly heavy showers in northern areas. The M25 motorway and large parts of the M3, M4, M40, M1 and M11 motorways were brought to a standstill.
Widespread travel disruption affected all parts of the UK. Fresh snowfall brought further problems to England on the 22nd. Hampshire and the Thames Valley were worst hit. Some 3,000 travellers were stuck around major roads in the twon centre which cause a gridlock in and around Basingstoke where 2,000 cars were abandoned and some other people slept in their cars. However central Scotland from Argyll through Glasgow to Edinburgh had very heavy snowfall during the evening which brought accumulation up to a further 7 cm. A man died in the Isle of Lewis with the very cold weather. The Manchester area had frozen snow which made some dangerous travelling conditions. The temperature dropped to −16 °C (3.2 °F) overnight in Dalwhinnie in the Cairngorms National Park, Scotland and it fell to −10 °C (14.0 °F) in Edinburgh.
The 23rd brought very heavy snowfall to eastern Scotland. The Lothians, Lanarkshire, Edinburgh, Fife and Perth and Kinross were worst hit with accumilations up to a foot in places, particulary in Harthill. The M8 was filled with long traffic jams and it was confirmed that Scotland was experiencing the worse snow and ice for years and the conditions on the roads were the worst in 20 years.
Lying snow gave some travel distruption however Christmas Eve was releatively calm day.
On Christmas Day parts of Britain had a white Christmas for the first time since 2004 after snow fell in northern and central Scotland and parts of England, including Nottinghamshire. A man in Leeds, West Yorkshire froze to death after spending 24 hours in his car. A total of 21 people were reported to have died during the cold snap in the UK.Many parts of NorthWestern Ireland had a white Christmas also, whilst freezing rain affected most other parts of the state.
On Boxing Day drivers in Northern Ireland were warned of icy conditions, but conditions in many other parts of the UK continued to improve as milder air moved in from the south. However, northern England and Scotland remained cold, and night time temperatures continued to drop below freezing. Some Boxing Day sporting fixtures were cancelled or postponed because of continuing icy conditions in places, including the National Hunt meeting at Towcester and all but two of the Scottish Football League's fixtures. Some parts of East Anglia suffered electricity power cuts, including Dedham, Stratford St Mary and parts of Colchester; in more remote parts of the region, some were continuously without power for 36 hours.
Parts of England again suffered repeated power cuts, and Scotland experienced fresh snowfall overnight on 26–27 December with the worst affected area being Perthshire, where between 12 and 18 inches (300 and 460 mm) fell.
Temperatures fell to −16 °C (3.2 °F) in Tyndrum overnight on 27–28 December, and to −14 °C (6.8 °F) at Tulloch Bridge in the Highlands. The Met Office issued fresh severe weather warnings and motorists were advised to drive with caution. The A75 between Stranraer and Newton Stewart was closed because of "treacherous icy conditions", while the southbound carriageway of the A9 was blocked between the A8624 and B8081 in Perth and Kinross following an accident at Gleneagles.
Temperatures dropped to −18 °C (−0.4 °F) in parts of the Highlands overnight on 28–29 December, with Braemar recording Britain's lowest temperature of the winter. Fresh travel warnings were issued on 29 December as the wintry conditions continued to cause problems on Scotland's roads.
Warnings of heavy snow were issued for Wales, the Midlands, north-west England, eastern and southern England, and Yorkshire and Humber. More snow began falling across parts of Wales and central and northern England on the evening of 29 December, with Wales recording the heaviest of the snow showers where some rural areas were cut off by of up to 30 centimetres (12 in). Snow was also reported in parts of the West Midlands region and Yorkshire.
Sportscotland Avalanche Information Service (SAIS) issued warnings about conditions on Scottish mountains. However, three people died in three large avalanches. Two climbers were killed as a result of an avalanche on Ben Nevis, while a man was airlifted from Liathach, a mountain in Torridon, after getting into trouble, and died in hospital.
Continued icy weather in Scotland on New Year's Eve led to the cancellation of Hogmanay celebrations in Inverness amid concerns over public safety. New Year celebrations in other parts of Scotland went ahead as planned. North-east Scotland experienced fresh snowfall during the afternoon and evening of 31 December. For a second time that week Inverness Airport was closed forcing several hundred passengers to make alternative arrangements. In Batley, West Yorkshire 2,500 gallons of water leaked into the local gas network, leaving 400 homes in Dewsbury and Batley without gas during sub-zero temperatures. The final homes were reconnected on 7 January.
Fresh overnight snowfall on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day caused disruption in north east England, with roads across Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, County Durham and Teesside affected. Snow also fell in parts of East Cumbria. In places it was as deep as 10 centimetres (3.9 in) and motorists were warned not to travel unless their journey was absolutely necessary.
A weather front carried in this north wind brought heavy snow in the northwest of England. Wythenshawe near Manchester Airport had 5 inches (130 mm) of snow. This affected road transport on 2 January, particularly in the Greater Manchester area with conditions on the M60, M602 and M66 reported to be poor, while Snake Pass, which links Manchester with Sheffield was closed.
In Scotland, a number of roads across the country were closed including three junctions of the M9 while the motorway was shut in both directions at the Newbridge Roundabout in Edinburgh during the evening because of heavy snow, and did not open again until the following day. Problems were also reported on the A96 and the A939. Rail services between Inverness and Central Scotland were also affected by poor weather.
Parts of northeast England and Cumbria had 6 centimetres (2.4 in) of snow, and Edinburgh had 9 centimetres (3.5 in). Europe's largest private sector weather business, MeteoGroup, announced that the previous month was the coldest December on average since 1996. Temperatures remained very cold on 3 January throughout Ireland and Britain, with some snow showers in Kent and North East England, although lighter than on previous days.
Following days of disruption because of the weather, Inverness Airport finally could operate normally. It was announced that because of the cold snap it would be illegal to shoot reared mallard, geese, woodcock, snipe and golden plover in Scotland for two weeks from 5 January.
In Scotland, Fife Council became the first local authority to confirm that its supply of grit was exhausted after it received less than it had ordered from suppliers. Ministers denied there was a shortage of grit and salt and insisted there were "very substantial" supplies for Scotland's roads.
In its monthly summary, Met Eireann, Ireland's weather service, said December was the coldest month for 28 years for most of the country and the coldest of any month since February 1986 at a few stations.
The Met Office issued weather warnings for every region in the UK except the Northern Isles. An extreme weather warning was issued for southern areas for overnight snowfall which could bring accumulations from 25 to 40 centimetres (9.8 to 16 in). BBC Weather and the Met Office also warned that temperatures in the Highlands of Scotland could drop to −20 °C (−4.0 °F) later in the week. The Met Office also confirmed that the UK is experiencing the longest prolonged cold spell since 1981.
A local record of 48 centimetres (19 in) of snow was lying in Aviemore and 3 to 4 feet (0.91 to 1.2 m) of snow was recorded within the Cairngorms National Park. Most parts of Scotland had further snowfalls during the night of 4/5 January.
Due to shortage of road grit conventionally made from rock salt, road grit was being made by or for road-gritters from cooking-type salt mixed with builders' sand; and the public bought up large amounts of cooking salt and table salt from food shops to put on their paths and drives.
The synoptic situation in northern Europe settled to a steady northeast wind which brought snow showers and belts of snow.
A severe warning issued by the Met Office was in place for every region in the UK. Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond said Scotland was experiencing its worst winter since 1963.Further deaths in Wales, Shetland and Aberdeenshire were recorded. Roads in the southeast were left with traffic jams and abandoned cars. 8,000 schools were closed.
In Eastern Parts, there were accumilations of 40cm to 50cm in places. In Kent, six inches of snow fell in four hours in the early evening.
Overnight temperatures of −18 °C (−0.4 °F) were recorded during the morning at Benson, Oxfordshire and Woodford, Greater Manchester in Britain. Over 10,000 schools closed across the UK owing to very heavy snow and disrupted transport. The National Grid issued its second alert in three days, asking suppliers to provide more gas and some businesses to switch to other power sources as gas usage hit record levels.A high of -8.5c was recorded at Loch Glascarnoch. Snow showers also affected Wales and the South-West of England.
Overnight temperatures of −22.3 °C (−8 °F) were recorded in Altnaharra in the Scottish Highlands.Heavy snow fell in the North of England throughout the day giving significant accumulations. A High of -7.7c was recorded at Tulloch Bridge.
Deal and Sandwich in Kent, England, were virtually cut off by snowdrifts.Snow showers persisted in the east of the UK. In the far south east, snow showers merged into longer and more persistent areas of snow. A Low of −14.5 °C (5.9 °F) was recorded at Tulloch Bridge.
During the Early hours, light snow showers spread across parts of Central England and Wales. The Maximum temperature was −13.5 °C (7.7 °F) in Altnaharra and low of −18.4 °C (−1.1 °F) was recorded at Kinbrace.
Rain, sleet and snow travelled northwards throughout the early hours. Allenheads in England had fears over a potential 15 ft (4.6 m) snowdrift. A low of −21 °C (−5.8 °F) was recorded in Altnaharra, Highland.
The weather system affecting Wales and south-west England on the evening of the 12th moved onto The Midlands and South-east England where the snow persisted throughout the early hours until around midday dropping a further 5-10cm, the weather system continued north during the evening, affecting much of Northern England before reaching Scotland.
Many schools were once again closed across England and Wales. There were many road accidents and closures, the M25 motorway was down to one lane between Leatherhead and Reigate whilst roads streching right across southern Great Britain were untreated causing havoc for commuters. Gatwick and Birmingham airports were closed and many flights were delayed at Heathrow.
Due to a mix of the bitter winter weather and the milder system trying to push in from the Atlantic, heavy snowfall in the United Kingdom resumed, with fresh accumulations, on top of existing snow, of up to 15 centimetres on 12 January in Wales and South-west England. Snow later fell in The Midlands and South-east England.
In places in north England (Holmfirth, Barnsley) rain or sleet fell onto deep-frozen roads, making so much black ice that some people found that the only safe way to move about on roads was by crawling
Many schools were once again closed across England and Wales. There were many road accidents and closures, the M25 motorway was down to one lane between Leatherhead and Reigate whilst roads stretching right across southern Great Britain were untreated causing havoc for commuters. Gatwick and Birmingham airports were closed and many flights were delayed at Heathrow.
Southerly to south-easterly winds brought bands of snow to northern parts of Britain. An inch of snow fell in Glasgow with further accumulations in areas outside the towns and cities. Travel was disrupted somewhat.
This day brought rain and thaw to much of southwest England including Manchester. In Manchester rain on frozen ground had overnight caused glazed frost which had largely (not completely) gone by morning, and at midday the clouds were running fast from the south; the January snowfall was melting fast, but the pre-Christmas snowfall, which where trodden had half thawed to slush and then frozen hard to solid ice overnight, was slower to melt. In Scotland it melted fresh snow. Flood warnings were issued.
- 2009 North American blizzard
- Winter storms of 2009–2010 in East Asia
- Winter storms of 2009–2010
- February 2009 Great Britain and Ireland snowfall
- Winter of 1962–1963 in the United Kingdom
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