Cache-Control: public, max-age=1024000 British Weather from 1700 to 1849

British Weather from 1700 to 1849

Martin Rowley has put together a wonderful site bringing together information about the weather in Britain. Of particular interest (to me anyway) is the historical data from 4000BC(!) until the present day. You can find it all at:

With Martin's generous permission I have extracted the weather data from 1700 to 1849 and displayed it here. Given the sometimes informal nature of the historical sources, it is necessarily a little patchy but it makes for fascinating reading.


Hot weather event
Cold weather event
Dry weather event
Wet weather event
Stormy weather event
Foggy weather event
References: hold mouse over the image to view


1700 to 1749
Date   Description Ref
first half of 18th C. It was 'remarkably dry' overall Britain and near continent. Seems to have been notably dry in the London area. Dry years were common, while wet years were few & far between. Only 5 wet summers during this period compared with 16 during the 2nd half.
1700 A dry summer (London/South).
1701 (January) 29th(NS): Severe southerly gale [after period of severe frost during first-half of month]; many ships wrecked, trees blown down and buildings damaged in southern England (includes East Anglia).
1701 (April) Very cold: CET=4.7 deg C. Equal coldest April (with 1837) in that series. (Probably also dry as notably cold spring months tend to be anticyclonic).
1701 (Spring & summer) Little rain for several months before May; warm summer (London/South). In the Upminster record (Essex), the rainfall for March was 0.79 ins / 20 mm, & for April, the figure was 0.29 ins / 7 mm.
One of the 10 warmest Julys in the CET record. The value was 18.3degC, being well in excess of +2C anomaly on the all-series mean.
1702 Waterspout (?) caused damage at Hatfield (Hertfordshire?) on 21st June.
[ Odd report / location for a 'waterspout'! ]
1703 Very wet from April to July.
1703 (November) The 'Great Storm' of 1703 which commenced on Friday 26th November (old-style, 7th December new-style) was probably the worst ever experienced in England; it is described by Defoe in his work: "The Storm 1703". This storm was associated with a deep secondary depression which swept across Ireland, Wales & central England; it is possible that this secondary developed from a West Indian hurricane which had been off the coast of Florida a few days previously. The gale first blew from the south, then veered to west-south-west and finally to north-west. The southern half of the country felt the full force of the storm and it was worst in London on the nights of Friday 26th November(OS) and Tuesday 30th November(OS), when bricks, tiles and stones flew about with such force, and were so numerous, that none dared venture forth from their homes. After the storm the price of tiles increased by about 300%.
The tidal flood affecting the Thames on Sunday 30th(OS) was associated with this storm, though the tidal storm surge for this event was more significant on the Severn and along the Dutch coast. Twelve warships with 1300 men on board were lost in sight of land, Eddystone lighthouse was destroyed and practically all shipping in the Thames was destroyed or damaged. In London alone, 22 people were drowned, 21 people were killed and 200 injured by falling and flying debris. It was estimated that 8000 people lost their lives in the floods caused by the storm in the rivers Thames and Severn and in Holland. The damage due to the storm and flood in London alone was estimated to be £ 2 000 000.
[ Lamb quotes 'new-style' dates for this event of 7th/8th December 1703.]
Additional notes:
1. Possibly a rejuvinated Atlantic hurricane, this storm produced estimated winds reaching 120mph/104 knots (Lamb estimates 150kn).
2. There was apparently little rain.
3. On the south Wales coast, a tidal surge drove up the Bristol Channel, leaving the port of Bristol in ruins, and the hinterland under water.
4. Considerable structural damage occurred across England & Wales, with large loss of standing timber (much as 1987/Oct). Estimates of total loss of life are around 8000, which makes it much worse than the October 1987 event. The heavy lead on the roof of Westminster Abbey being ripped off and carried well clear of the building. The Eddystone lighthouse (newly built/2nd time) was destroyed, and its designer/builder (Henry Winstanley) was killed as he was on site at the time.
5. The storm dealt a severe blow to Merchant and Royal Navy shipping in the Channel and along the English east coast. For the latter, over 1000 seamen were killed, including many senior RN personnel, and 15 ships. (England was then at war with France).
6. Much salt contamination of inland fields by wind-driven spray/salt-laden winds.
7. The depression (possibly a secondary within the circulation of a parent further north/North of Scotland) approached SW England/Celtic Sea and moved across Wales to Yorkshire (estimated eastward speed ~ 40kn; a factor in the surface wind speeds), with widespread southwesterly severe gales on the 26th, and a rearward surge of strength affected the eastern English Channel during the early hours of the 27th.
8. It is estimated that a very intense pressure gradient developed on it's southern flank, with central MSLP almost certainly below 960mbar (some sources, and Lamb, say possibly 950mbar).
9. During 27th & 28th, this storm caused widespread problems Low Countries, North Germany, Denmark and adjacent areas.
[ NB: the 'stormy' spell had actually started around two weeks earlier, with local damage / loss of shipping reported; for example on the 24th, a storm of such proportions would, if this latter had not occurred, been regarded as the 'major' event of this time. Earlier still, on the 12th, another severe gale affected the English Channel & southern North Sea. The 'final' storm marked the conclusion of the spell.])
1704 Perhaps the driest year for 20 years .. but not everywhere. A warm summer (London/South).
1705 A dry year; "Mild & Dark" (?) with fogs and close weather during the first half of March 1705.
A dry summer (London/South).
1705 (August) A 'great storm' affected the south English coast on the 11th August (OSP). Great damage was done to shipping, with many deaths. Onshore, there was considerable loss of / damage to property in the Brighton (Sussex) area.  
1706 (November) From Norwich cathedral records . . . "Two great floods in Norwich". (If it is this time of year, suggests events due to heavy / prolonged rainfall rather than severe thunderstorms.)  
1707 A dry year (London/South).
July 1707 "Hot Tuesday": many heat-wave deaths in England (temperature details not known .. but must have been 'notable'!!)
1708 The coldest spring, summer & autumn for 47 years, apart from 1698.
1708/09 (winter) 1. This was a severe winter: the frost lasted for over three months (December - March) and the temperature fell (location unspecified) to 0degF (or -18degC). A notably foggy period in December 1708 (from 15th to 24th/OSP). The Thames frozen in London. Reputed to have been more severe, and more destructive and continued longer than in any year since 1698. Cold/severe winter, by CET series. (1.2 degC or about 2.5C below all-series mean, which is a lot for the three months as a whole.)
2. For London/Southeast in particular, a cold spell which started on 7th January 1709(OSP) lasted for nearly two months, and it became so cold that the Thames froze over completely, with the usual 'booths & tents' being set up on the frozen surface. (Actually, one report I have found says that the Thames was frozen sufficiently for such 1st-4th January; this would imply that the spell starting 7th was immediately preceded by a 'milder' spell of a few days, with December being cold. Inspection of the CET record has that month as a 'below-average' event, but not exceptionally so, therefore some confusion here.)
(Sounds a bit like 1962/63 with the fog at the start of the episode).
[ Also "probably" the COLDEST winter across Europe (as a whole) in a series starting 1500; combining proxy & instrumental data. (University of Berne / RMetS / 'Weather' 2004) ]
1709 A wet year.
1710 (January & February) Very foggy. Dates noted as 19th to 24th January(OSP), & 'in February'. (London/South).
1711 (May) "Lightning strike on 20th May, 1711(OSP) blew a stable block and coach-house apart, killing two men. Glass windows burst outwards and brickwork split in half". There are also reports of a 'violent storm' affecting Nottinghamshire - damaging churches (not sure if this is the same date / synoptic event as above).
December 1713 This month was very mild with a lot of fog and there was thick fog on the 13th.
1714 (February) Possible major gale / storm on/about 1st February (OSP). (Parish Register of Wintringham).  
1714 Outstandingly dry: the annual rainfall at Upminster (Essex) was some 11.25 inches (or 286 mm) which is about half of the average during the first half of the 20th century. (These low values were not beaten until 1921 q.v.)
The extended dry weather was noted elsewhere across England & Ireland, and in Ulster, where a 'severe drought' is said to have lasted from 1714 to 1719, it is thought that the adverse conditions for agriculture led to a major migration of Ulster-Scots from there to North America, specifically to Pennsylvania.
1715 (Summer) A wet summer. A notably wet summer at Kew Observatory (then in rural Surrey). The anomaly is given by Lamb (in CHMW) as 194% (of 1916-1950 LTA).
1715/16 (Winter) Cold / severe winter, by CET series. (0.8 degC). Severe frost from 24th November(OS) to 9th February(OS). Frost fair held on the Thames. The Thames was completely frozen for about two months during this severe winter: a frost fair was held on the river - however, remember that the 'old' London Bridge would have restricted the river flow considerably and allowed such ice to form readily [see note at the introduction to these records]. 25th January: ice on Thames in London lifted by some 14ft (~ 4.3m) by a flood tide but did not break. Much fog 24th to 28th January (temporary mild incursion?); some fog in February.
1716 A dry year - with a dry summer: the Thames so low by September that people walked under the arches of London Bridge. This was apparently caused by a combination of drought, strong winds and low tides.
1717 (January & February) Some foggy days in January & February (London/South).
1717 (Christmas)
24th/25th December(NS): According to Hubert Lamb, this was 'one of the greatest historically recorded storm disasters on the coasts of the North Sea in terms of loss of life - possibly since the beginning of major dyke building.' About 11 000 people are reported to have died, with the death toll especially high in Germany - there was also a great loss of livestock (90 000 cattle at least). Storm damage/flooding both sides of the North Sea, also on the French side of the Channel - much significant damage to the dykes on the eastern side of the North Sea. (December 1717 was apparently a 'very stormy month', with the sequence of periods of high winds beginning in the last few days of November/NS.)
1718, 1719 Fine summer weather gave a good crop of grapes at Richmond in both years, and the summer of 1719 was claimed to be one of the hottest for some time. Generally warm across the whole of England & Wales (using the CET series), with 1719 notably warm.
1720 (December) "Great losses sustained in Lancashire in December, 1720 by the violent overflowing of the sea". (Diary of Nicholas Blundell). Storm tides (wind-driven surge) had flooded 6600 acres of land, washed out 157 houses, and damaged 200 more. The main areas of damage were on low-lying land at Pilling Moss and Marton Moss near the Fylde Coast and the West Lancashire Moss between Formby & Tarleton. At Ince Blundell sea banks were breached, the River Alt floodgates were broken & more than 100 acres of productive farmland were damaged by seawater (salt contamination). Roads and bridges were also affected, including a public bridge in Great Crosby known at 'Foremost poole bridge' (Far Moss Pool bridge).  
October 1722 Exceptionally foggy month (in London) - with fog on 9 days.
1723 Long fine summer but a wet July (London/South).
1724 Severe thunderstorm with hail on the 10th June.
January 1725 Very dry period began 13th: only 15 days with rain at Wells, Somerset over the following three months (to mid-April).
February 1725 Exceptionally foggy month (in London) - with fog on 10 days. Part of a notably dry spell .. see above.
April 1725 25th: beginning of exceptional prolonged wet spell with winds between NW & SW (after a mild winter 1724/25). Rain fell in London on at least 60 out of 75 days between this date and the 8th July.
1725 Summer Cold summer. Notably cold by CET series. The CET value was 13.1degC, over 2C below the LTA in that series (began 1659), and (as at 2004), the coldest in that series. No grapes (ripened?) at Richmond-upon-Thames (then in a semi-rural Surrey)
September 1725 5th: Beginning of drier weather and a mild autumn after prolonged raininess since April.
1725/26 Severe winter (London/South).
Spring / early summer 1726 On 8th March, River Thames four inches (10 cm) higher than had been known for 40 years, presumably due to high rainfall over England & Wales during the winter / spring.
> Very thundery from end of May to mid-June. There was apparently a major sudden flood at Bruton (Somerset) due to an intense / violent thunderstorm in the early hours of the 5th (OSP), assigned by modern researchers to 15th June (NS). Considerable destruction of housing (not sure what the type of housing would be). The four bridges through the town were either significantly damaged or washed away (again, what construction is not given but one was a 'packhorse' bridge which implies stonework). [latter information from 'Weather', September 2014: Clark.]
> Given the implied wet winter / early spring, then such intense thunderstorms would have caused all sorts of problems - as we know today.
1727 A dry summer (London/South).
1728 A wet year; a wet summer. In September, fog recorded on 6 days (London/South ?)
1728/29 (Winter &
Severe winter. Frost & snow from mid-December to end of January. Very backward spring in 1729.(LW) The winter CET value was 1.7degC, which is roughly 2C below the all-series mean, and the spring value at 6.7degC is just over 1C below the mean for that season.
May 1729 Tornado destroyed buildings along track through Sussex & Kent.
1729 (Summer) A wet summer across England & Wales. The anomaly is given by Lamb (in CHMW) as 169% of LTA (1916-1950).
1729-1731 (Autumns) Three years in a row with remarkably warm Autumn seasons. All three periods (September to November in each year) experienced CET anomalies of around +2degC on the long-term average. In 1729, the September of that year was the warmest such-named month (until 2006) in the CET record (16.6/+3.3C), followed by a near-average October, but a warm November (+2C). With 1730 & 1731, the warmth was consistent across all three months, with November of 1730 having an anomaly of over +3C. These latter two years (1730/1731) experienced the warmest autumns in the CET record until 2006 comprehensively beat them. (q.v.)
1729, December Thick fog all day in Richmond (Middlesex) on 12th & 19th December(OSP).
January 1730 1st: a 'great fog' in London - many lives lost; Thick fog 5th to 7th January(OSP).
1731 (January & February) The first two months of this year were notably cold, at least across England & Wales, & often very dry. The anomaly for January was -1.3C & for February -1.6C (wrt CET long-period average). For the winter, the anomaly was -1.2C. Noted at the time as a period of 'Great frost'. The temperature in 'London' fell to 0degF (or ~-18degC). Much snow (London/South).
1731 (summer & autumn) A warm summer & autumn;
Persistently warm period September to November.[ see also general note above re: 1729-1731 ]
1731 (Annual) Outstandingly dry - a couple of sites in the southeast of England around London recorded around 14 ins / 356 mm of rain, roughly half modern-day average: started with a great frost. (See above).
1732 Dry summer (London/South).
1733 Dry year; Hot July (London/South): into the 'top-10' of warmest such-named months in the CET series.
1733/34 (winter) One of the warmest winters (by CET) in the series which began in 1659. Up to 1997, rank=9 Value=6.10; Dec=7.6, Jan=4.3, Feb=6.4 (Others: 1686, 1796, 1834, 1869, 1935, 1975, 1989 and 1990.)
1735 (January) The westerly or WSW gale of the 8th January(OS) / 19th January(NS), 1735 was, according to contemporary reports, the most violent since the destructive storm of November 1703. The damage in London was considerable; several houses were destroyed, practically every street was covered with tiles, and 36 trees were uprooted in St. James' Park. High winds were reported between midday and midnight on the 19th(NS) over an area that extended from the English midlands to Berlin, and rainfall was also heavy and prolonged over much of this area on the 18th & 19th.
1735 Flooding at Kingston on the 19th July(OSP).
1735 Severe storm (doesn't say whether 'gale' or thunderstorm) on 24th August(OSP) damaged houses and trees - location not given.
1736 (February) Highest tide for 50 years in the Thames basin on the 16th February(OS), late February in 'new-style' dating: coupled to severe gales and a deep depression, this produced a significant storm-surge which affected much of the east coast (of England), and possibly elsewhere around the North Sea. Significant flooding in Westminster & Whitehall ('two feet through Westminster Hall') and the high waters affected much of the Thames shoreline downstream to the Essex & Kent coasts; serious inundation of low-lying areas across the English Fens and other eastern marshlands was also recorded. The severe gale caused a loss of shipping right around the coasts of the British Isles. An additional factor was high rainfall, which apparently affected large areas of Britain, itself causing extensive flooding. [ Based on various contemporary newspaper entries collated by David Bradbury.]
1736 (December) Another high tide on the 24th December (OS) caused the Thames to flood Westminster Hall. This presumably wouldn't have been notable unless some form of storm-surge was involved. (see also February 1736 above). However, according to Lamb (Ref: 23), another explanation of this event is that the flooding was river-based, due to a high volume of water flowing down the Thames after at least a fortnight of heavy rain and/or snow, and melting of lying snow.
1736, October Fog 12th - 19th October.
1737 (late Spring & early-mid Summer) Persistently warm period May to July. By the CET record, each of these months had positive anomalies well in excess of +1C, with June around +1.7C.
A wet summer (this statement may apply to August only - see below).
1737 (August) In marked contrast to the above, August 1737 failed to please, with the CET value of 13.8degC being some 2C below the long-term average; this places this August in the 'top-20' of coldest such-named months in that series (began 1659).
A violent gale on the 3rd August (OS) / 14th August(NS) when numerous trees were uprooted and some ships sunk in the Thames: this storm affected south-eastern England & East Anglia (as well as areas on the other side of the North Sea).
1737 There were two violent gales in 1737; the first on 3rd August uprooted numerous trees and sank some ships in the Thames, and considerable damage was also caused by a second gale on the 1st December (though Lamb/Ref 23, casts doubt on this one).
25th July 1738 During a thunderstorm, hail stones "bigger than walnuts" fell at Uxbridge (Middlesex); house roofs were damaged and several people were injured. Severe hailstorms in many districts; in Hertfordshire & Wiltshire lumps of ice (hail aggregates?) up to 9 inches (circa 23cm) across fell (in a mainly dry summer).
1738/1739 (Winter) A notably mild winter (Dec/Jan/Feb). Using the CET series, the average was 5.6degC, an approximate all-series anomaly of +2C.
January 1739 Central Scotland: 25th January new-style (14th old-style) - early hours, a severe gale (similar in type to that of 1968). A great deal of loss of shipping in both Clyde and Forth estuaries. Widespread structural damage in the Glasgow & Edinburgh areas - loss of a great many trees.
1739 A wet, unsettled year. Violent thunderstorm on the 10th September. (NB: in ref. 8, a 'gale' is noted on the 11th September, doing much damage in London - is this the same phenomenon?
October 1739 8th: Beginning of historic winter: East wind set in with frequent frosts.
1739/40 (winter & much of spring)
This winter was extremely severe and may have been worse than that of 1715/16.
This winter included a notably severe / bitter January and February, both of which were in the 'top-5' of coldest such-named months. Using the CET series, both January (-2.8degC) and February (-1.6degC) had sub-zero mean temperatures, only one of four instances of consecutive 'sub-zero' months (see also 1684, 1878/79 & 1963).
29th/30th December (but Lamb has this as 31st December(OS), thus 11th January(NS)): severe (or 'violent') easterly gale & ice in the Thames damaged shipping considerably; the problem with high winds and sea-ice also affected other ports along the English east coast. Coupled to some very low temperatures, probably below -10degC, many deaths occurred due to exposure. The wind-driven waves along the English east coast did great damage, with the port of Dunwich being badly affected - it had already been disappearing after previous inundations & storms. (see also below **)
The streets of London were clogged with snow and ice, the Thames was frozen for about eight weeks, and Thames shipping and London Bridge were damaged considerably by the ice. Lamb (Ref. 23 notes that there were 'great shortages' of food & other essential supplies for the first seven weeks of 1740 due to the difficulty of shipping negotiating the ice.) According to one report (Rev. W. Derham, Upminster [Essex]) the frost of this winter was the most severe on record and the temperature on 3rd January was down to -11degF (-24 degC). [ NB:at this time, and for at least another 150 years, Upminster was highly rural, & this very low temperature should not be seen as being relevant to a 'modern' London climatology, even if very severe winters were to return; also, the exposure conditions of the thermometer were unlike those of modern climatological stations.]
(** In addition to the prolonged frost (roughly Christmas Eve to mid-February), a violent easterly gale, accompanied by snow, did considerable damage on the 29th & 30th December 1739. The gale and large blocks of drifting ice played havoc with shipping on the Thames; many ships were driven ashore and dashed to pieces.)
12th November: Northerly gale with rain, snow & hail;
26th November: Beginning of longest break in the prevailing E winds of this long, cold winter: many rainy days between 26th November & 4th January (1740) though still rather cold.
A notably dry January across England & Wales (see also 1766). As it was also bitterly cold (see 1. above), this suggests the classic 'Scandinavian/North European' blocking high, with persistent easterly / Polar Continental airmass from snow-covered areas of mainland Europe. At places in East Anglia, it was reported at the time that "3 inches of thick ice formed in just 24 hours": a remarkable feat, though it could have been something like a waterfall, or water overflow etc., rather than 3 inches on top of a still water surface. One report has it that the temperatures were below 15degF (or -9degC), but doesn't say if that is by day, by night etc. The 16th January (contemporary calendar) is noted in particular as being "the coldest day in the memory of man".
Some exceptional snowfalls over Scotland, more especially in January - often with marked drifting. Further south, in the London area, snow (falling) was recorded on 39 days between November 1739 & May 1740. Deep snow fell about Christmas in Norwich, which remained on the ground until March.
This great/severe winter of 1739/40 ended gently on the 9th March. [ see also notes below.]
1740-43 One of the worst dry spells of the 18th century. In particular, the years 1741 & 1743 were exceptionally dry.
1740 (March) Heavy snowfall from the harsh winter (see above), remained on the ground until March, when breaking up of the frost, a 'prodigious' flood ensued. The severity of the winter (in Norwich) produced riots, which were not quelled in the city without military assistance and the loss of six or seven lives.  
1740 (spring) (Following the cold winter - q.v. above) . . . a notably cold season by the CET series: snow fell in London at night 16th / 17th May. On the 31st May this year, moors at Eskdalemuir (Scottish borders) frozen too hard for peat cutting. With the severe winter weather extending well into spring (see below), the shortage of vegetables it caused led to an outbreak of scurvy.
May overall (8.6degC, ~ -2.5C on whole-series mean) was the coldest such named month in the series (ignoring the early part where the record is only to the nearest 0.5C).
[ This was followed by a cold June, with a whole-series anomaly ~ -1.5C ]
1740 (September & October) In 1740, London experienced gales on 4th & 7th/8th September(OS), and on 1st November(OS); the gale of 7th/8th September did great damage to shipping, and the gale of the 1st November blew down one of the spires of Westminster Abbey and most of the wall around Hyde Park. It also did great damage up and down the English east coast, with loss of life as well as considerable damage to shipping, port facilities etc.
9th October (or possibly the 1st - calendar style not clear): North wind brought uncommonly severe, early, night frost, after a cold summer: ice on many rivers in England, with snow showers also reported widely. By the 12th October, ice half-inch (circa 1cm) thick in Kent. (This was the coldest October on record).
In the CET series, this October was the coldest such-named month, with a value of 5.3degC, over 4C below the all-series mean, and over a degC colder than the next coldest October in the series, 1817.
November 1740 12th: Northerly gale with rain, snow & hail. (In reference 8, we have a date of 1st November?!) If it is the latter, then damage was caused to Westminster Abbey, with one of the spires being blown down.
December 1740 A gale from between north and east (storm-surge?) drove sea water many miles inland and seriously inundated the ancient Suffolk town of Dunwich. The last remnants of the original church were washed away. Large sections of the cliffs disappeared.
Dunwich was at one point a major town/market place in this point in East Anglia, but coastal erosion over the years has reduced it to an insignificant village.
1740 (Annual) Notably cold by the CET series: coldest by some margin for the year as a whole.
January 1741 Heavy thunderstorm with hail on the 25th January in London.
25th: Violent WSW gale in Scotland: widespread damage to buildings.
June - September 1741 Prolonged heat/drought set in around 12th June and lasted until 2nd September, whence general rainfall. Autumn noted as particularly warm.
1741: autumn & early winter Foggy from 26th August to 1st September; very foggy from 27th November to 6th December. (all presumably London/South).
1742 (December) Severe frost for about 3 weeks in December; much ice in the Thames.
1743 Great gale in London on 3rd February.
Gale on 27th April held the King (George II) up at Sheerness.
Hailstones as big as nutmegs at Enfield on the 15th July.
1743 (autumn) Rather foggy September & October (London/South).
1744 April: Maximum temperature for the month 75degF (24 degC) on the 21st April. [London ??]
August: Violent thunderstorm on 14th August (London).
1745 A wet summer (London).
Gales from 18th to 20th November (OSP)(London/South?).
1746 January Freezing fog 3rd to 6th & 11th to 16th January; Thick fog on 13th & 14th January (London/South).
1746 Hottest day on 18th July - temperature in shade 85 degF (29 degC) [London??]
1747: (August) The summer of 1747 became progressively warmer, with July circa +1C above average; however, the August was notably warm, with a CET value of 18.3degC (+2.7C on all-series average), and in the 'top-10' of warmest Augusts in that series.
1747 Thames in flood (no details as yet).
Summer 1748 Hot days in June & July; temperature at 1 pm on 23rd July was 85 degF (29degC). [London??]
12th June 1748: Large hailstones, about 2 inches (50mm) in diameter, did considerable damage to windows and gardens during a thunderstorm.
1748 Severe frost 11th to 14th November (London/South).
1749 A dry summer. Shade temperature at about mid-day on 2nd July was 88 degF (31degC) [London ??]
1749 Sharp frost on 15th November (London/South).
1750 to 1799
Date   Description Ref
1750 A very thundery year, with severe thunderstorms & hail causing flooding on the 11th & 24th July in this year.
1751-1760 (10 years) In England, the summers of this period were the wettest in a record that began in 1697. These 10 wet summers in a row produced an overall anomaly of 127% of the modern-era mean.
1751 in particular is regarded as a notably wet year, at least in the London/SE region. It included a wet March, a wet first two-thirds of May and some severe thunderstorms & flooding in November.
The 1752 summer (London/SE) was noted as 'cool & damp'.
More wet summers for London/SE in 1755, 1756 & 1758.
1751 A wet year. A wet March with continual rain from the 1st to 11th. Heavy rain during the first 18 days of May. Thunderstorm with snow/hail caused flooding on the 21st November. (all London).
1751 (February) 26th February(OS)/9th March(NS): severe gale affected most of the southern half of the country and destroyed a number of ships in the Thames.
1752-1840's According to Lamb, this period (though with a 'lull' from 1783-1802) was "extraordinary for the frequency of explosive volcanic eruptions, which maintained dust veils high in the atmosphere & may have contributed (perhaps significantly) to the reversal of what otherwise would have been a noted climatic recovery from the late 1600's onwards. Some of the more notable events were:
(a): 1783 - Iceland, Japan.
(b): 1812 - St. Vincent, West Indies & Awu, Celebes.
(c): 1814 - Philippines.
(d): 1815 - Tambora, East Indies. (Lamb/CHMW) Optical effects recorded by observers of the time, along with some famous 'sunsets' in paintings by such as Turner.
[ see details against the particular years - where available. ]
20th July 1752 A whirlwind associated with a thunderstorm lifted two boats several feet (3 feet ~=1 metre) out of the Thames at Vauxhall and smashed one of them to pieces on the river bank. It is claimed (?) that this was the only thunderstorm in London during this year.
Summer 1752 A cool, damp summer.
October 1752 Dry & warm (London/South).
1753 Whitehall flooded on the 22nd March. (Storm-surge?)
1755 (mid/late Winter - early/mid Spring) Odd sequence overall - generally cold, but with an anomalously warm April sandwiched in amongst the chill! The year 1755 was cold, with an anomaly of (minus)0.7C for the year. January (-1.0C), February (-2.6) & March (-1.3) were all notably cold, but April tried to correct this, promising a fine Spring. The CET figure for that month was 10.0 (+2.1C), and placed this April just outside the warmest 10 such-named months in the entire series. However, the promise failed, as May turned cold again, and ended up with an anomaly of -1.8C.
1755, 1756 & 1758 All wet summers in the London area. More generally, April of 1756 was notably wet by the EWP series: amongst the top 3 such-named months. (See also 1782 and 1818).
1756 (May) May 1756 was notably cold. With a CET value of 9.1degC, this placed it just outside the 'top-10' or so coldest Mays in that long series, with an 'all-series' anomaly of over -2C.
> 6th May: Almost every day for a fortnight there has either been snow (large flakes) or large hailstones, and excessively cold. (as reported in the Journals of Ralph Jackson/Newcastle upon Tyne)
1756 (October) October 7th: a major cyclonic storm, with tornadic elements, affected much of the southern and central North Sea, most of Britain and continental areas on the other side of the North Sea. The strongest winds over Britain (with the most documented damage) occurred over northern England, with numerous trees blown down ('twisted-off', hence possible tornadoes). Buildings were damaged and there was considerable sea-salt contamination of farming land around the Solway Firth. In Newcastle-upon-Tyne, houses were 'blown down', ships sunk and others foundered on the shoreline or were blown out to sea. A high tidal surge reported on the German, Dutch & Danish coastlines: all these reports point to strongest winds being from NW or N.
1757: (July) A notably warm month by the CET record (starts 1659). The value of 18.4degC is roughly +2.5C on the all-series average, and placed it in the 'top-10' Julys in terms of warmth. The other 'summer' months were nothing special though; indeed, August 1757 was on the 'chilly' side, with a negative anomaly using the CET series.
1758 (Summer) A wet summer across England & Wales. The anomaly is given by Lamb (in CHMW) as 143% of LTA (1916-1950).
December 1758 Thick fog on 2nd and 3rd December (London/South).
January 1759 Exceptionally dry month over England & Wales.
1762 Great flood in the Thames valley (.. date not given).
1762 (late spring/early summer) Fine, warm or very warm weather - prolonged from April to July. In the CET series (began 1659), it was in the top 10 to 15 summers (June, July & August) by that measure.
October 1762 Snow on 28th October (London/South).
December / January 1762/63 January 1763 was a bitterly cold month. There was an intense frost from Christmas Day, 1762 until the end of January (?London/South)(LW), often accompanied by an easterly wind - which implies a Greenland / Scandinavian anticyclonic-blocking episode. The CET value was -0.8degC, some 4C below the approximate 'all-series' mean.
1763-1772 (Summers) These years experienced wet summers, with an average for the period of 117%
1763 (Summer) A very wet summer across England & Wales. The anomaly is given by Lamb (in CHMW) as 181% of LTA (1916-1950), and he ranks it as the second wettest in the rain-gauge record.
However, note that across Scotland, there are reports of a 'Great drought' during the summer of 1763 & differences north-to-south like this are quite common occurrences.
1763 Thames flooded (.. date & type not given, but given the wet summer noted above, possibly a fluvial event autumn / winter?).
June 1764 18th: Severe thunderstorms: lightning destroyed churches & naval ship. (Helped to hasten introduction/installation/acceptance of lightning rods on tall buildings). A wet summer.
1765 A dry summer (London/South).
1765 Foggy 21st to 26th August (London/South).
Winter 1765/66 Severe winter [ November to February ]. Using the CET series, each of these months had an anomaly exceeding -2C, with December & January values nearer -2.5C (wrt all-series mean).
The driest January in the EWP series (which starts in this month/year), at 4.4mm. (see also ... 1740).( Also, the third driest any-month in the series. )
1766-1768 (Three consecutive cold Januarys) As an additional note to that above (q.v.), the Januarys of 1766, 1767 & 1768 were all bitterly cold, with anomalies (using the CET series) much greater than -2C, and that of 1767, with a CET of 0.1degC had an all-series anomaly of -3.1C.
Summers of 1766 & 1767 Both years had wet summers.
start 1767 & start 1768 Both these years commenced with severe frosts which were described as comparable with the intensity of frosts of 1739/40. [ see also below ]
May 1767 Snow on 5th May (London/South).
September 1767 Foggy 19th - 25th September; thick fog on 20th & 21st September.
December 1767 - January 1768 Severe cold spell set in from roughly mid-December 1767 and lasted until beginning of the second week of January, 1768. Gilbert White (Selborne) writes: .. "the most severe known for many years - much damage to ever-greens". [This latter comment perhaps implies that as well as very low temperatures, there was a considerable 'wind-burn' effect.]
During last few days of December 1767, 'considerable' falls of snow at Selborne (NE Hampshire). Bitterly cold spell second half of December 1767. Further snowfall in the opening days of January 1768. Some very low temperatures - daytime maxima no higher than 18 or 19 degF (circa -7degC) in some places.
Severe frost and deep snow (London/South).
1768 (February) Snow-melt & rain event overtopped banks (of the River Aire) in Leeds (W. Yorkshire). The EWP value (representing an areal average across England & Wales) for that month showed nearly twice the 'all-series' value for that month, following a slightly-above average precipitation value for January. Following-on the remarks under January (above), I think we can assume that snowfall during January around and above Leeds (across the Pennine headwaters of the Aire) must have been considerable. [The year 1768 is the second-wettest year in the EWP series - see below].
June (& Summer) 1768 7th: Beginning of wettest part of a record wet summer in England. Rain on at least 36 days out of the next 44; thundery. On 11th/12th June, a "two day deluge".
A wet summer across England & Wales. Lamb (in CHMW) gives the anomaly as 164% of LTA (1916-1950), and he ranked it as the sixth wettest in the rain-gauge record. [See also the comment against September/below]
1768 (September) Heavy rain at Bruton, Somerset led to severe flooding in the area on the 1st. The river rose very rapidly, completely destroying one of the stones bridges, with the force of water causing the breaking of house windows in the nearby village of Pitcombe. According to contemporary reports, a localised 'violent' storm (presumably adding to already high water levels - see below), caused the River Brue to "swell three feet perpendicular within 5 minutes", resulting in the severe flooding of numerous houses, destruction of the town bridge and demolition of walls throughout Bruton. (1768 was a notably wet year - see below: the immediately preceding summer 1768 [ JJA ], was also wet using the EWP series, with June 1768 the second wettest June in the series, and the summer anomaly averaging out at over 175% of long-term).
December 1768 A report of the London-Exeter coach being carried away by a flood on the Thames near Staines (? 1st) with the loss of all 6 passengers & four horses.
1768 The second wettest year in the EWP series (as at 2006), with 1247mm of rain. See also 1872, 1852, 1960 & 2000.
A notably wet year in London. A wet summer but the heaviest rain fell in the autumn. Major flooding along the River Thames during December.
1769 Foggy 10th to 13th October (London/South).
1770 (February) Wind-driven storm caused much wave-damage at Porlock & Watchet (Bristol Channel coast, Somerset).
1770 (Spring) With a CET averaged over the three months of March, April & May 1770 of 5.97degC, this Spring was technically the second-coldest such-named season in that record (but for all intents, equal with 1695 given the approximations involved in the earlier part of the series). (See also 1695 & 1837)
SNOW on 2nd to 4th May (London/South).
1770 (August) The storms / floods affecting many parts of the south of England from the 6th onwards (& parts of SE Wales) were notable. Severe thunderstorms broke out in west Cornwall on the 6th - extending across much of Cornwall, Devon & the West of England by the end of the 7th. A great flood occurred at Lynmouth (North Devon) - on a par with the event of August, 1952. The notably stormy weather, with high-intensity rainfall events, lightning / hail damage, violent thunder etc., extended across most southern areas by the 12th August. Deaths, both stock & humans were reported. Much loss of crops. (NB: the EWP value for this month was nothing special).
1770 (November) 1. Second wettest November in the EWP series (began in 1766). Total rainfall was 201mm, not far short of the record for November of 203mm set in 1852.[ One of only three months (any month that is) in the record to reach or exceed 200mm, the others being October, 1903 and November, 1852 ]. In Worcester, on the River Severn, there was a 'very great flood', with the waters 10 inches higher than the flood of 1672 (q.v.)
1771 (February & May) Foggy 18th - 24th February; thick fog 3rd, 11th & 12th May (London/South).
A wet summer.
1771 (March) 25th March: (Lady Day) - In Margate (Kent), the snow was drifted above 6 ft (~2m) with temperatures below 0degC.
November 1771 6th: Heavy rain & floods at Kings Lynn.
16th: Heavy rains flooded the rivers Tyne, Wear and Tees, washing away most bridges.
1772 A dry warm summer (London/South).
1773 (late Spring & Summer) Based on records from Lambeth (London/south of the River), May, July & August were all part of a wet summer for the capital & surrounding areas. May in particular experienced over 180% of the contemporary average, and August, which was the second-wettest month of that year, had 3.96ins / 100mm, representing ~160% of the mean.
Summer to early September 1773 2nd September: First rain in N. Scotland after long/dry summer with waterfalls dried out. However note that in LW, summer 1773 is noted as 'wet' - not unusual for this 'upside-down' precipitation pattern though.
7th September: Very wet & stormy in NW Scotland & Hebrides: autumn continued rainy until 3rd November. 20th September: Rain/gales in Hebrides.
1773/1774 (autumn+winter+early spring): September 1773 to February 1774: By EWP series, and relating to the 1961-1990 average, all months were above average; total rainfall this period=688mm [ average=508mm ], which represents 135%. None of the months exceptionally wet but enough prolonged rainfall to cause significant problems in the early Spring of 1774.
March 1774 12th(NSP): Henley bridge (Berkshire / Oxfordshire border) destroyed by flood waters - partly tidal (!) though primarily due to heavy rainfall/fluvial drainage. This flood was the highest on record at Teddington, and more generally the worst flood of the 18th century along the Thames Valley. The sequence of events (a deep/penetrating frost leading to frozen ground, some heavy snow, then a rapid thaw accompanied by heavy rain) led to the flooding (and remember the sub-soil was already saturated after the sustained rainfall since the previous autumn. 12th March was the nominal high point of the Thames flood. Elsewhere, 50 acres of land destroyed by a landslip at Selbourne (Hants). At Mapledurham, (between Pangbourne & Reading), recent estimates are that the flood level at this point was 0.6m / 2ft above the level of the major inundation of 1894 (q.v.)
1775-1784 (Summers) Another in the 18th century series of wet summers (see also 1751-1760 & 1763-1772). The anomaly for these years is given by Lamb as 115%. This set of summers were also warm.
1775 (late Spring - early Summer) Fine, warm weather prolonged through April, May and June. Very heavy thunderstorm with hail (in London) on the 30th.
1775 (Summer) A wet summer across England & Wales. Lamb (in CHMW) gives the anomaly as 144% of LTA (1916-1950). In fact, the anomaly was concentrated into July & August (well over twice average rainfall taking the two months together), whereas June was largely dry (see above). The wet 'high summer' months were followed by a wet autumn, and the anomaly July to November~160% of LTA.
1776 (January - February) 1775/76: Severe winter; Severe cold weather much of Europe 9th Jan to 2nd Feb: Thames frozen for some time; intensely stormy cyclonic February followed.
January: A widespread and often severe frost for a large part of the month. Also snow. (The 'Great Frost' from accounts by Gilbert White). The month overall almost as cold as the record cold January of 1963. A severe/prolonged cold spell. There were interludes of mild/melting, but snowfall was often considerable, with frequent drifting. Considerably low temperatures over the snow-cover during the second half of the month. Minima recorded at South Lambeth were reported as 11, 7, 6 and 6degF on the nights of 28th to the 31st. (in degC down to about -14degC.). At Selborne (NE Hampshire), the figures for the same nights were: 7, 6, 10 and 0 degF, the 0degF converts to -18degC. These low values were often accompanied by fog, and some reports suggest temperatures as low as -4 deg Fahrenheit at Chatham and -11deg Fahrenheit at Maidstone, both Kent. Obviously daytime temperatures were very low, with sub-zero values persistent.
By the CET series, this January is in the 'top-10' of cold such-named months in that dataset, which runs from 1659.
(A sudden thaw/milder weather evening 1st February.)
October - December 1776 Fog on 14 days in October, 11 days in November and 18days in December (London/South).
1778 - 1800 Dry years frequent in London area over these years. The following are picked out as 'noteworthy': 1780, 1781, 1788, 1795 & 1796. Includes four warm summers (1778**, 1780, 1781 & 1783). [ ** contains a wet July!]
[ However, note also that this period contained some notably wet years/summers! ]
1779 (January to March) The first three months of this year were exceptionally dry by the EWP series. January 1779 was the 3rd driest January in that series, February 8th driest, and March 7th driest. In all, under 20% of the average rainfall was assessed by the EWP set.
Exceptionally warm February in particular: by the CET series, the warmest February in that series with a value of 7.9degC. March was in the 'top-10' of warmest such named months. Also 'fine, warm and mild' in Scotland. [ NB: the winter 1778/79 was also mild, which is unusual, because we (early 21st century) have become used to mild winters/early springs being associated with wet seasons.]
1779 (late Summer/early Autumn) Warm, or very warm through July, August and September,but see note below & elsewhere.
Lambeth recorded 6.5 inches of rain (~165mm) in July 1779; this is a considerable amount above the local average - something around 275%.(LW) Using the wider EWP series, the total was 149mm (roughly 250% of the mean), and it just comes into the 'top-10' of wettest Julys in that series: the rainfall was obviously excessive over a wider area of England & Wales.
1779 After the notably dry start (see above), it turned out to be a rather wet year, with a wet summer (see above) - though LW notes the August as being 'fine & warm'.
1779/80 (Winter) Severe winter (London/South).
Coldest winter in the series 1764/65 to 1962/63 at Edinburgh, Scotland.
Using the CET series for lowland England, the anomaly for the three 'standard' winter months of December, January & February was -2.3C on the all-series mean. January 1780 was particularly cold with a CET value of -0.9degC (-4C anomaly).
1780: (Annual)
A notably dry year by the EWP series - in the 'top-5' by that measure (at 2002). (See also 1788, 1854, 1887 & 1921);
a dry/warm summer (London/South).
Fog on 10 days in August (London/South).
1781 Heavy thunderstorm on 17th February.
1781: (March): An exceptionally dry month in the EWP series. 5.6mm of rain credited, the driest March in the series, and in the 'top 5' driest *any-month* in that series. Coming after a notably dry year (1780/q.v.) and a dry winter, the lack of rainfall during this 'sowing-out' month must have hit agriculture hard.
A dry year; a notably warm summer (London/South & more generally across England & Wales). Remarkably warm by the CET series June, July & August.
1781 (Summer) In Scotland, (in contrast to note above), the summer was cold & dry: grass & corn failed to grow properly.
1782 (February & March) Aberdeenshire: snow began to fall in earnest on 1st February, with a 'good deep storm on the ground' by the 8th. The snow continued to fall thereafter, with hard frosts, so that by the 14th February, 'it was computed 8 inches over all (circa 20cm). The hard, persistent frost was also noted at Forres, Morayshire - here it is said to have began on the 1st February & continued for 8 weeks, i.e. throughout March.
By the 1st March, much of the earlier snow in Scotland had disappeared from the lowlands, but with plenty remaining on the hills. Mixed weather came to an end on the 10th, with a return of widespread snow to north and south of Scotland alike. On the 11th, it is reported that there was a 'great' fall of snow, which continued at least 12 hours. Aberdeenshire again badly affected, with snow recorded every day between the 12th & 28th. Snowfall, with depths of between 2 and 3ft [~ 1m ] also noted at Forres, Morayshire.
1782 (April & May) Wettest such pair of months in the EWP series. Total=281mm. (see also 1983 & 2000). In particular, April was the wettest such-named month in the EWP series (until 2000 q.v.). 112.5mm recorded for this month in Oxford (Radcliffe Observatory?).
6th April (Scotland): A late 'storm' of snow in the West Highlands proving fatal for large numbers of sheep. Heavy snow was also noted from Northamptonshire [English east Midlands] during April.
1782 (Annual & individual) A wet year with a wet summer (in London). The equal 10th wettest year in the EWP series, with 1109mm (=with 1789). Amongst the wet months that year were: January, April (139mm/wettest April in series), May (142mm/2nd wettest May in series), July, August (151mm/6th wettest August in series) and September.
1782: (January): Three floods in 10 days noted at Forres, Morayshire.
April & May: wettest such pair of months in the EWP series. Total=281mm. (see also 1983 & 2000)
In Scotland, for the second year in a row, the season was 'cold & backward' such that unripened corn was buried by the snow that fell in October.
1782 (September
& October)
A great fall of snow across NE Scotland (" the black aughty-twa ") on September 15th & again on October 31st - oat crops ruined and it was Christmas before the crop was cut - and even then it was only fit for cattle feed. The resultant dearth of food led the Duke of Gordon to give his tenants a rebate on rents, or extended time to pay them.
Summer 1783 to late winter 1783/84 Icelandic volcanic eruption (Laki): Primary eruptions (five) from June 8th to July 8th, 1783(60% of the total volume of ejection), but minor eruptions occurred until early February, 1784. A major event, with huge production of sulphur & acid products, as well as the largest production of lava in recorded history. The majority of emissions are thought to have been confined to the troposphere, but the initial ejections of each of the five major events did penetrate the tropopause and entered the stratosphere. The intense period of eruption tallied with contemporary reports across Europe of a blue haze or dry-fog in the atmosphere, damage to vegetation and occurrence of respiratory problems (later analysis suggests that the mortality due to the sulphur-based haze was counted in tens of thousands dead): the effects noted at the time throughout summer & autumn. These effects are consistent with increased atmospheric loading of acid aerosols, particularly sulphates. Because of the (suspected) lack of major stratospheric impact, there is controversy surrounding this event: For Iceland itself, the following winter (1783/84) was known as the 'Famine Winter': 25% of the population died (many from wet and dry deposition of acidic pollutants). Note, there is still some argument as to whether this led to changes to the regional/European climate in the years 1783, 1784 etc., and / or by how much.
late Winter / early Spring 1783/1784 January to April 1784 ... notably cold, and persistently so by CET series. In particular, the winter (1783 December - 1784 February) CET=1.2degC, some 2.5C below the all-series average. The Thames was completely frozen in February and traffic crossed on the ice. (LW)
In Scotland, the period around and after Christmas was bitterly cold with a 'violent' easterly storm 25th/26th December, which caused havoc along the Scottish east coast, and brought a large amount of snow which drifted significantly.
(NB: the following winter/1784-85 was also about 1degC colder than average. This has been attributed to the Laki eruption event but there is some doubt about this - see above.)
2nd/3rd January: Scotland - a severe snowstorm affecting at least the Aberdeen area, with much drifting. Drifts were reported to have reached around 5 or 6 metres in Aberdeenshire, seriously dislocating travel. Houses all down the eastern side of Scotland were unroofed, rocks were blown into harbours on the east coast, and stacks of corn & hay were carried away. Reports from Edinburgh suggest that widespread bad conditions occurred elsewhere.
Summer 1783 1. Hot dry weather set in during June after continual rains. The fine weather was marred until 20th July or later by persistent thick smoky haze and pall, apparently from an Iceland volcano [ see above ]. Overall though, noted as a 'warm' summer (London/South).
2. July 1783 was a notably warm month (in the CET series), not only for July but for any summer month. The value of 18.8degC represents an anomaly of +2.9C over the all-series mean, placing it second warmest in the July lists, and also making it the fourth warmest any named month in that series (which starts in 1659.) [ The other summer months, June and August, were above-average, but by half-a-degree or less, so nothing special. ]
3. A 'high-summer' noteworthy for it's thunderstorm activity. There is a possible link with the high pollution (atmospheric aerosols) due to the 'Laki' eruption.
1783 (autumn) Foggy 26th September to 6th October (London/South).
1783/84 & 1784/85 (Winters) Two successive severe winters occurred in these years; in both winters the Thames was completely frozen for a short period, with navigation affected for much longer periods. In 1783/84, almost continuous frost from late December 1783 to late February 1784. In 1784/85, frost/snow from early December 1784 to early January 1785, most of February and during the first half of March.
Regarding the winter of 1784/85 in particular, in East Anglia (& more widely), the 'winter' season was regarded as extending from the first fall of snow in October (7th) to that which fell on April 4th. The whole period (apart from 12 days in January) had been frosty. Reports from southern Scotland also make mention of 'remarkable' snow & drifts during the winter, with the Spring notably frosty. Other reports from London & the south (LW) note a 'severe winter'. Frost & snow from early December to early January, most of February and during the first half of March. The Thames frozen solid at times and traffic crossed on the ice.
The mean CET for the extended 'winter' period of December 1784 to March 1785 inclusive, was 1.3degC, nearly 3C below the all-series mean for that four-month period. In fact January 1785 in this series was just above average, so it could have been even worse!
[ This has been attributed to the Laki eruption event but there is some doubt about this - see above.]
1784-1786 Three successive cold years; heavy snow fell on the 25th October 1784 and there was snow on the 26th & 29th October 1785.
1784 (Annual & Summer) In this cold year (in the 'top-10 coldest years in the CET record - see below), the summer was wet in London/South; sleet observed near coast of the Moray Firth in August & heavy snow (?London) on the 25th October.
1784 was a notably cold year; with a CET value of 7.8degC, this year falls within the 'top-10' of coldest years in this series (since 1659), and is approximately 2C below the modern-day average. In particular, the summer was consistently chilly. Each summer month (JJA) had a CET anomaly of at least (minus)0.5C, and August had an anomaly of -1.6C on the whole-series mean.
(The 1780's were one of the coldest decades in the CET series & this year was the coldest within those 10 years. There was a notable sequence of three cold years, 1784-1786, where the annual mean for each year was over 1C below the modern-day average.)
1784 (October) Following a dry September (EWP=41mm/~50% LTA), October 1784 was exceptionally dry using this same series, with a value of 16 mm, representing roughly 18% of the average, and placing it third driest for the month of October across England & Wales.
Not only was it notably dry but it was cold; the CET value is quoted as 7.8degC, which gives an anomaly of roughly -2C on the all-series average. Snow fell in Suffolk on the 7th, at the start of a remarkably cold & dry spell that lasted right through the winter and spring of 1784/85.
January 1785 Over Scotland, around the middle two weeks of January, some severe snowstorms, followed by prolonged frosts - lasting into May in some areas. (Not necessarily continuous though!)
1784 December to 1785 June Notably dry during this period. Less than 50% of the average rainfall over these 7 months, and includes the exceptionally dry months of March 1785 (19mm) and April 1785 (10mm/6th driest April in the series). Great distress to Agriculture by the spring / early summer 1785, with spring-sowing failing due to lack of moisture & cattle having to be either killed or fed on sub-standard supplies. [ The drought even more severe in France. ]
1785: (March) Very cold: CET=1.2 degC, the second coldest March in the series.
1785: (Annual) One of the driest years across England & Wales (using the EWP series) - into the 'top-10' using that measure.
Cold year: snow on the 26th & 29th October (?London).
November 1785 1st: Tornado damage in Nottinghamshire.
1786 A cold year: A dry summer (London/South).
Autumn (September to November), was persistently cold (based on the CET series). All three months had anomalies (w.r.t. modern values) between -2 & -3.5C, & November 1786 was equal-tenth (with 1923, 1919, 1740 & 1746) coldest such-named month in the series with a CET value of 3.3degC. For the autumn overall, the average CET of 7.5degC is nearly 3C below the 1971-2000 average for autumn.
1786 (September) 14th/15th September, 1786: Major storm affected much of the British Isles (but perhaps not Scotland) - destroyed houses, overturned coaches/wagons & killed many people. Many trees in the south of England were 'torn up by their roots', with the New Forest specifically mentioned. Ships were driven ashore and damaged or destroyed, with deaths of sailors the result. Lamb thinks that the strongest winds (possibly gusts to 80 knots) occurred in a broad belt across the English Midlands, and the wind may have been 'unusually squally'.
1786/87 (winter) Notaby mild in Scotland. (Severe/cold winters were common at this time - so quite unusual). December was wet & stormy according to an Aberdeen paper, without much frost/snow. The remarkably mild weather affected much of January - temperatures by day in Kelso for example rising to 5 to 10 degC from late December until mid-January. February also noted as being without 'harsh' weather.
1788 A dry year (London/South). The driest year in the EWP series with 612mm of rain; this represents roughly two-thirds of the all-series mean. [Other dry years: 1921 & 1887 q.v.]. Includes the driest December in the EWP series, with a value of just 9 mm averaged over England & Wales. From records in the London area (quoted in 'London Weather'), both South Lambeth and Somerset House failed to record any rain during December.
June 1788 28th: probably the wettest day ever recorded in Suffolk.
1788/89 (Winter) 30th November 1788 - earliest known case of a long unbroken frost began on this date, lasting until early January 1789. Although the winter overall didn't stand out as regards severity, December, and to a lesser extent January, were bitterly cold. The CET value for December 1788 was -0.3degC, some 4.4C below the 'all-series' mean for that month, and for January 1789, the value of 1.5degC was nearly 2C below the 'all-series' mean. December 1788 in particular is comfortably in the 'top-5' of coldest Decembers in the CET series. The Thames was completely frozen during this severe winter (implying a persistence of sub-zero temperatures) and a frost fair was held on the river, with the usual reports of sports / pastimes etc. "Deep snow" is noted in contemporary reports, diaries etc. (In the London area, the 'hard frost' is noted as having lasted from the 25th November, 1788 to the 14th January, 1789.(LW)
The combination of the extreme drought of 1788 (q.v.) & the bitter, frosty conditions, meant that water was in very short supply in the winter of 1788/89; much 'profiteering' as small quantities of water were sold for high prices.
1789 A wet summer (in London). Probably the 10th wettest year (equal with 1782) in the EWP series: in particular, May to July of that year was a particularly wet period, with a total rainfall for those three months of around 350mm (EWP), representing roughly 180% of the mean. This was of course in marked contrast to the previous (notably dry) year - see 1788.
(This was only beaten for these three months by 2007 / 415 mm May, June & July q.v.)
1789/90 (winter) Very mild winter in Scotland. December 1789 began with mild, dry weather from the south-west followed by a mixture of frost and 'fresh' days, with some snow about. Frost at the beginning of January was certainly hard enough to stop ploughing, but fine, fresh weather returned from the south on 6th January and continued for the next three weeks. February continued in similar vein, with winds generally from the southwest.
(However, winter 'arrived' in April, with severe frosts and frequent snowfall; (see below.)
[ Also a mild winter England & Wales, with an anomaly for the three 'winter' months of +2C.]
1790 (January) Fog on 22 days in January (London/South).
1790 (April) After a notably mild winter (see above), 'winter' weather set in with a vengeance in Scotland. Intense cold with frequent hail / snow, with snowfall in the hills more like January than April. Great deal of snow on the 12th with intense cold. Similar on the 15th, with further snowfall in Scotland. The CET value was 6.1degC, around 1.8C below the all-series mean; this month was colder than February or March this year.
1790 (June) Temperature of 91degF (33 degC) on 22nd June (London??)
1790 (December) December 23rd: a severe storm of rain, hail & thunder with very vivid and long flashes of lightning. It extended (reportedly) over the greater part of England & Ireland. Much damage was done to shipping and to houses in London, Windsor, Colchester etc.
1791 (February) February 2nd, a notably high tide accompanied by high winds led to flooding down many east English coastal areas. Specifically, we have notes of flooding in Westminster ('Lawyers were ferry'd into Westminster Hall'), Ipswich, and other coastal areas of Lincolnshire, East Anglia & Kent. (LW/Earl Soham).
1791 (June) On the 12th June 1791 (also the 2nd June 1975), snow fell in London (and elsewhere across southern England), but melted off almost immediately. [With these older reports, we always have to consider the possibility of mis-reporting soft hail etc. June 1791 is not noted as being a particularly cold month - indeed, by the CET series, it was slightly above average as far as the all-month temperature goes. However, in that other famous example, 2nd June, 1975, the cold start, with snow, turned rapidly to a fine, warm type thereafter q.v.]
1792 (summer) A wet summer (in London).
1792 (December) According to Lamb, the month of December, 1792 is remarkable for the frequency with which gales and storm-force winds were reported from many parts of Europe, including the areas adjacent to the North Sea. The upper-air pattern must have been greatly developmental with a very strong jet persisting.
Amongst the notable storms that Lamb (& others) analysed for this month are included: 5th (Southern North Sea), 7th/8th (whole North Sea), 10th-12th (whole North Sea) and 19th-23rd (eventually the whole of the North Sea).
1792 (Annual) This was a wet year (~120% of long-term average), with a particularly wet spell from July to September, the latter month being 9th in the 'wettest' list (for Septembers) in the EWP.
1793 A dry summer (London/South).
January 1794 A 'remarkable' snowstorm swept the southwest of Scotland beginning on the 23rd January 1794. It came to be known locally as the 'Gonial Blast' because of the extraordinary number of sheep that were killed, in addition to the deaths of many of the shepherds attending. [gonial/goniel=mutton of sheep]{'Weather': Vol49/p415,416}
The following is a report written after the event: " there is a place called the Beds of Esk, where the tide throws out and leaves whatever is carried into it by the rivers. When the flood after the storm subsided, there was found on that place and shores adjacent, one thousand eight hundred and forty sheep, nine black cattle, three horses, two men, one woman, forty-five dogs and one hundred and eighty hares, beside a number of meaner animals."
1794 (summer) A dry, warm summer (London/South).
1794 (Autumn) A very wet season over England & Wales (by the EWP series): The anomaly over the three months September, October & November was ~140%. In Norwich specifically, 'excessive rains in September, October & November occasioned a flood of the lower parts of the city; boats were rowed in several streets, and the water was from 2 to 3 feet deep in many houses.
1794/95 (winter & early spring) The winter of 1794/95 was exceptionally severe, with the very cold conditions setting in on Christmas Eve 1794 (though it had been cold since November). The frost then lasted, with some breaks, until late March. The cold was most intense during January, with resulted in the coldest January (and the coldest 'any-month') in the instrumental era (as assessed by CET measure/series begins 1659). The February value of 0.8degC was 3.0C below the long-term mean. On the 23rd, the Severn was frozen and so was the Thames, with the usual 'frost fairs' being set up there. On the 25th January, an extreme temperature of (minus) 21 degC (converted from degF) was recorded at an unspecified location in England, though some references give this as 'London'(**).
A rapid but temporary thaw, accompanied by heavy rain began on the 7th February(##). This resulted in much flooding across large areas of (at least) England - extensive damage to bridges. The severe cold returned after February 12th, and (as noted above), continued well into March. Snow was noted on several occasions between 13th February & 2nd March at Syon House, then a highly rural location on the north (Middlesex) shore of the Thames, opposite Kew Gardens. The snow events were accompanied by 'easterly' winds & anticyclonic type positioned to the north.
In Scotland, it was the seventh coldest winter at Edinburgh in the series 1764/65 - 1962/63. {coldest 1779/80} Frequent heavy snowfall reported from many places in Scotland during January 1795, with transport severely disrupted.
**[There are considerable doubts surrounding the exact value here; one interpretation of the original value is that it represented -38degF, representing -39degC. This would be extreme indeed, and given that temperatures were often read inside unheated rooms at this time, and that the likely location was London (albeit a fraction of it's current size), -39degC is in my view far too low.]
##The problem was one of melting snow plus heavy rain, on top of frozen ground (which takes some time to thaw out after an extended very cold winter), coupled to a wet previous autumn: the autumn of 1794 averaged over England & Wales had around 140-150% of 'normal' rainfall, with much of the excess 'locked up' in the ground by early severe frosts from November onwards. There are many contemporary reports of buildings of 'every description' being swept away; bridges, canals, turnpikes etc., being rendered unusable. Many lives lost. Even some of the 'great' country houses of the land were 'mid-leg deep in Water', with tales of people passing from room to room in boats.
February 1795 Thames flood in mid-February (in London).
April & May 1795 April brought significant flooding after the snow of the winter (see above), and May brought more snow. On the 15th May (calendar uncertain), snow lay about a foot (30cm) deep in Aberdeenshire, and thick layers of ice covered the rivers.
1795 (September) A remarkable September! It was both one of the wrmest Septembers on record, with a CET value of 16.0 degC (nearly 3C above the all-series mean), and in the 'top-5' of warmest such-named months. It was also very dry with an EWP value of just 13 mm, placing it also in the 'top-5' of dry such-named months. Indeed, at Somerset House (London), only 0.08 ins of rain was recorded, or roughly 2 mm.
1795 A dry year; Hot & dry in September (London/South).
1795/96 (winter) One of the warmest winters (by CET) in the series which began in 1659. Up to 1997, rank=7 Value=6.20; Dec=6.6, Jan=7.3, Feb=4.7 (Others: 1686, 1734, 1834, 1869, 1935, 1975, 1989 and 1990.)
1796 A dry year; a dry summer (London/South).
December 1796 Very severe frost in London on the 25th: -21degC in Marylebone, -19degC in Mayfair. Thames frozen.
Although the winter overall did not stand out as regards low temperatures, December in particular, using the CET record, was amongst the five coldest such-named months in that record (since 1659), and included a bitterly cold spell around Christmas. The temperature in London on Christmas Eve was noted as ~(minus)21degC, and Christmas Day was intensely cold, with the Thames frozen.
1796/97 (winter) A notably stormy season.
1797 Fog daily 16th - 28th February (London/South).
A wet summer (in London). A rather wet summer generally across England & Wales. According to Lamb (in CHMW), the anomaly was 140% of LTA (1916-1950).
1798 (late spring) Persistently warm weather through April, May and June by CET series.
1798/99 (Winter) Severe frost late December to early January (London/South).
Frequent, heavy snowfalls affecting at least eastern and central Scotland, from last third of December onwards. Much transport dislocation in late 1798, and again from late January 1799 onwards. (No details for elsewhere in the UK.)
A notably severe winter over western Europe / implied much of Britain (Easton, in CHMW/Lamb).
Early February, 1799 (probably 1st to 3rd), an Edinburgh paper noted that 'these 3 days past, intense frost, accompanied by heavy snow, with a strong gale from the NE. All communication with the country (Scotland) will be interrupted.' Similar story from Aberdeen for these days, there reporting snow 'for eight days past' i.e. from late January. A 'strong gale' from the NE caused much drifting. Later, on the 7th, a great fall of snow interrupted communications, and a 'great storm of snow' in the Edinburgh area on the night of the 8th is reported: newspapers on the 9th confirmed the extreme effects from as far north as Banff. Road completely blocked by blowing snow.
1799 (spring) March to May: persistently cold weather by CET series. In particular, the CET value for March (3.4degC) and April (5.4degC) were some 2 to 2.5 degC below average. From records in Devon (Moretonhampstead), winds were often from between north and east. Snow also often noted. From records in Kendal (Westmorland / Cumbria), we have . . "No vegetation in the fields, nor blossoms upon the fruit trees, on the 7th May, 1799. The skins of upwards of 10,000 lambs, which perished in the spring, were sold in this town. The weather was cold and wet all through the year."
June 1799 22nd June: beginning of long rainy spell: only 8 days without rain in a spell lasting until 17th November.
June 23rd: snowstorm, three feet (about 1m) depth in some places in upland areas of NE Scotland.
August 1799 August 17th: severe southwesterly storm (with heavy rain) affected the West Country. A lot of damage reported from agricultural property (loss of crops etc.), with the Corn crop particularly affected. Fruit also severely 'blown'.  
1799 (Annual) Looking at the CET record, the year 1799 was within the 'top-20' of coldest years in that series [value=7.9/about -1.3C all-series anomaly](starts 1659), and for the 18th century specifically, it was beaten for low temperatures only by 1784 (7.8degC) & 1740 (6.8degC).
1800 to 1849
Date Description Ref
1800-1839 (40 years) These first 40 years of the 19th century often contained references to excessive rainfall, floods etc. Using the EWP series, the following years had precipitation %ages of roughly=/> 110% . . . 1816, 1821, 1824, 1828, 1830, 1831 & 1839. In particular, 1828 & 1839 (~120%) stand out, though even these don't appear in the 'top-10' of wettest years in that series. There is evidence from London-area data that (as might be expected) there were notable regional variations. For example, from the Greenwich series (LW), the wettest years in these four decades did NOT coincide with the EWP set; for London, it appears that 1821 (~140%) and 1824 (~150%) captured the most rainfall, and two years (1817 & 1819), although not 'notable' in the England/Wales-wide series, were wet in the London/SE area.
However, as always with such sweeping statements, there were notable exceptions! The following years and / or seasons are noted as being 'dry' during these first 40 years of the 19th century:
>1800 - A dry summer.
>1802 - A dry year.
>1807 - A dry year & a dry summer.
>1818 - A long, dry & hot summer. (see below)
>1825 - A dry summer. A notable hot spell in July.
>1826 - A warm summer. (see below)
>1827 - A dry summer.
>1835 - A dry summer.
>1840 - A dry year; a dry summer.
First 40 yr. of 19th C. Often wet in London, with 8 years wet (1816, 1817, 1819, 1821, 1824, 1828, 1831 & 1839), with 1821 & 1824 being 'outstandingly' wet. 10 wet summers noted: just 3 'dry' years in this period noted: 1802, 1807 & 1840.
There were 7 severe winters in this period: 1813/14, 1815/16, 1819/20, 1822/23, 1829/30, 1837/38 & 1840/41. There was a great deal of ice on the Thames during most of these winters, but the ice does not seem to have been strong/thick enough for people to walk from one side to the other.
1809-1819: After a relatively benign period from 1790 (several warm summers & less cold winters), these years saw a return to often harsh winters & unsettled, cold & wet summers. The decade from 1810-1819 was the coldest in England since the 1690's. Lamb (CHMW) ascribes this reversal to a renewal of volcanic activity. [ It is generally thought that the works of Charles Dickens take the character of the weather from this less than perfect period, e.g. the often-quoted snow / frost in such as 'A Christmas Carol' & 'The Pickwick Papers'.]
1800 A dry summer (London/South).
1802 A dry year (London/South).
1805 A wet summer (in London).
1807 A dry year; a dry summer (London/South).
1807 (December) Fog daily 17th - 21st December (London/South).
1808 (January) Northwesterly (?) gale affects east coast of England. Serious flooding East Anglian marshes (significant breach is sea walls), with loss of farming stock and damage to ships, onshore etc.
1808: (February) 12th: Significant snowstorm (heavy snow / high winds) affects East Anglia / East of England fens. Dislocation to movement for "several days". This was followed in the days after by a 'very intense frost'.
July 1808 1. Notably warm month (using the CET series since 1659). With a value of 18.4degC, it is in the 'top-10' of such-named months for warmth. In particular, there was a hot spell from the 12th to the 15th, with a peak around the 13th/14th, when the CET daily temperature (i.e. average of 24hr maximum & minimum) climbed to just over 24degC. Studies since that date have shown that individual day maxima were well above 25degC (possibly to 28degC) in the West of England; up to (almost certainly over) 32degC in London & possibly as high as 34degC in Kingston upon Hull (ER Yorkshire): however caution is required with all these values due to the differing instruments, exposure, accuracy of recording etc. It was undoubtedly a very hot spell though, as deaths (people & animals) from heat exhaustion were recorded, particularly from the agricultural areas in the east and north of England. One report at the time (from farm records in the eastern Fens), says that the temperature in the shade near London was 96 (degF), which converts to just over 35degC: the same reference notes that this spell is the "hottest day ever known in Eng'd … the Hot Sunday in 1790 was only 83 Deg". [ NB: August 1808 also reasonably warm, with anomaly circa + 1degC. ]
2. 13th: 'Hot Wednesday': shade temperatures 33 to 35degC in E. and SE England, 37degC (99degF) reported in Suffolk (exposure & instrument details unknown . . see 1. above).
3. Damaging hailstorm affected counties in SW England afternoon / evening of the 15th (presumably as the hot spell above was breaking down), primarily affecting Dorset, Somerset & Gloucestershire. The storm first hit areas in the Sherborne / Templecombe area late afternoon then moved (or developed) NNW'wards to reach Bristol mid-evening. From reports at the time, the diameter of much of the hail was of the order 11 cm, with much damage being recorded - including injury & death to people in the open. If these reports are correct, then this 1808 hailstorm (according to Colin Clark / 'Weather' July 2004), produced the largest hail diameters for Britain known (along with that for 1697).
1808/09 (Christmas & New Year) Fog daily 24th December to 2nd January (London/South). Further fog on 7 days later in January.
January 1809 A flood occurred, which may have been tidal in the lower reaches of the Thames, carried away bridges at Eton, Deptford and Lewisham. Flooding noted at Windsor. Highest flood level (as at 2003) on the upper River Thames recorded at Shillingford Wharf (47.25m above OD). After a cold / frosty period, during which the ground became thoroughly frozen, rain fell on the 19th January, which itself froze, plus a period of snow. Then on the 24th, what is described as 'intense' rainfall, coupled with snowmelt produced a rapid rise in the waters of the Thames over the near-solid surface. A major flood was the result, causing much damage (which may have been aggravated by an above-average high tide in the lower reaches of the Thames), which amongst other things took away the central arch of Wallingford Bridge, part of the old Bridge at Wheatley, and damaged or destroyed bridges downstream, e.g. at Bisham, Eton & Windsor. flood damage also specifically noted at Deptford & Lewisham. Has been dubbed by some: "The Great Thames Flood". It wasn't a particularly wet winter, but the combination of snow/frozen ground and high-intensity rainfall was more than poor flood defence schemes (if they existed) could cope with.
26th: SW gale and a rapidly rising temperature in Scotland after a snowstorm ended a severe frost period with easterly winds which began in December 1808.
26th April 1809 Thames in flood at various points (specifically noted at Windsor).
1809 (October) Fog on 11 days, with thick fog last 3 days (London/South).
January 1810 10 days of fog in London.
October 1810 Fog on 5 days (London/South).
Snow on the 30th (London??).
November 1810 Easterly gale: sea floods around Boston, Lincolnshire.
1810 (December) What is thought to be Britain's strongest tornado (known / accepted) occurred in December 1810. A category of "T8" (on a ten-point scale) has been assigned to it; 14th December, 1810 at Old Portsmouth (Hampshire). From the TORRO web site . . . " tracked from Old Portsmouth to Southsea Common (Hampshire) causing immense damage - although no deaths, it is believed. Some houses completely levelled and many others were so badly damaged that they had to be demolished; chimneys were blown down and the lead on a bank roof was 'rolled up like a piece of canvas and blown from its situation' ".
Jan 1811 Thames frozen over.
May, 1811 Thunderstorms on 9 days in May in the London area.
1811 (September) Fog on 7 days (London/South).
March 1812 Snow fell 1 foot (circa 30cm) deep about Edinburgh, followed by drifting in NE gale 21st to 23rd.
1812 (Spring, Summer & Autumn) 1. Spring & Summer 1812 were notably cold. The anomaly for both seasons on the whole-series (CET) mean was around -1.5C, with March, April, June, July & August having anomalies in excess of -1C. April 1812 was unusually cold, with a CET value of 5.5degC (-2.4C) & thus one of the 'top-dozen' or so cold such-named months. It was the coldest Spring since 1799, and it was not to as cold again in Spring until 1837, though in this latter year, the summer was warm. By contrast, 1812 experienced one of the coldest summers across England & Wales using the CET series (began 1659).
2. In addition to the extended cold, rainfall was often excessive. The months of February & March 1812 experienced EWP anomalies of 177% & 150% respectively, which with the cold ground, would have had a severe effect on the germination of crops sown, or about to be sown. Indeed, although April was drier than average, May, June and July were all wet (averaging ~135%), so sowing may have been impossible on heavier soils.
3. The backwardness of the crops, plus the extended wet/cold weather (with probably a lack of sunshine, though there are no contemporary records for this), meant that the harvest that year was also delayed, as well as being of a low yield. From records in Yorkshire, the harvest began around 20th September, and was not finished until the second week of November (Wintringham Parish Register).
1813/1814 (winter) 1. One of the four or five coldest winters in the CET record. See also 1683/84; 1739/40 and 1962/63. Particularly cold January to March: CET values, with anomalies ref. 1961-90 averages: Jan: -2.9(-6.7), Feb: 1.4(-2.4), Mar: 2.9(-2.8): We had to wait until 1962/63 for comparable, extended cold periods, in particular for the January values. The last time that the 'tidal' River Thames froze over sufficiently to hold 'frost fairs' etc. The activities surrounding the fair lasted well into February, but around 5th/6th February, a thaw set in and the ice started to break up, helped by rain: some people were drowned and many booths were destroyed. The loose ice did much damage to shipping of all sizes on the river. (After this time, the removal of the old London Bridge in 1831, plus other work enabled the Thames to increase it's flow, and freezing of the tidal stretches has not occurred since.) Most commentators say this was the 'last great frost fair' held on the Thames. The greatest frost of the 19th century commenced on the 27th December 1813; the onset of the frost was accompanied by thick fog.
2. Probably one of the snowiest winters in these islands in the last 300 years (1947 comparable). Much disruption in January in particular due to the snow. Reports from Perth (Scotland) spoke of low temperatures in the first week of January: by the end of the week, snow was falling in Aberdeenshire and a few days later reports from Kelso (Borders) spoke of heavy snow blocking roads to Edinburgh. By Monday, 17th January, the storm had become so severe that the newspapers opined that this storm was the worst since 1795. In Dublin, the snowfall was so severe that people were trapped inside their houses, and it is reported that Canterbury (Kent) was cut off for at least six days.
Heavy snow fell during the period 3rd to 5th January, 1814 and this was followed by a temporary thaw which only lasted one day; the frost then returned (often severe over snow cover) and persisted until the 5th February. The Thames was frozen solid from 31st January to 5th February and a frost fair was held on the river; a thaw took place between 5th and 7th February and the drifting ice damaged shipping considerably. [Note also that other rivers had ice problems, such as the Mersey & the Severn - the Thames always gets the headlines! Mention in chronicles of skating at Bristol and horses being ridden over these rivers: no doubt others in the country were similarly affected.]
In addition to the heavy frost, fog was an additional hazard, which commenced (in London) on the 26th/27th December, and only lifted on the 3rd January, 1814. On the 27th December, the fog was so dense (under 20 yards/metres) that the Prince Regent (later George IV), who was on his way to visit the Marquis of Salisbury at Hatfield House, near St. Albans, had to turn back at Kentish Town and return to Carlton House. This short journey took several hours and one of the Prince Regent's outriders fell into a ditch at Kentish Town. The fog was still dense on the 28th December and on that night the Maidenhead coach, which was returning from London, lost its way and overturned. Dense fog continued on 29th December and the Birmingham mail coach took nearly 7 hours to go from London to just past Uxbridge (west Middlesex). Traffic was almost at a standstill in London on the nights of 30th and 31st December; many coachmen had to lead their horses and others only drove at a walking pace. Only pedestrians who knew the locality well dared venture forth, and even some of them lost their way. The fog was finally cleared by a cold northerly wind, accompanied by heavy snow, which set in on the 3rd January 1814 (though Lamb in ref. 6 says this occurred 5th/6th).
1814 & 1816 These years were as cold, if not colder than, 1695. The 'Frost Fair' in February of 1814 is thought to be the last held on the Thames in London (1st to 4th). The summer of 1814 was cold: This year, together with that of 1816 (q.v.), were two of the coldest years in the CET record (began 1659). The value for 1814 was 7.7degC, which places it within the 'top-10' of all-series cold years.
1816 is famously known as 'the year without a summer': in this latter year, heavy snow fell all day on the 14th April, and snow fell on the 12th May.
June 1815 The May and June of 1815 were very unsettled, and marked by high rainfall totals across the Low Countries. In particular, the heavy rain-storms in the lead up to, and immediately prior to the Battle of Waterloo (17th/18th) across Belgium may have been a contributory factor in the defeat of the Napoleonic French forces - the French cavalry in particular finding it difficult to traverse the rain-sodden ground.
1815/16 (winter) A severe winter (London/South).
1816 & 1817 Two wet years, with wet summers - in London.
1816 (Spring) Whether linked to the volcanic eruption (Tambora/q.v. below) of the previous year or not, spring of 1816 had an overall anomaly (on the whole-series mean) of greater than -1C; snow is reported to have fallen 'all day' on Easter Sunday (14th April, quite late) in the 'London' area, with further snow reported on the 12th May.
1816 (Annual / Summer): THE 'YEAR WITHOUT A SUMMER' A violent volcanic eruption of Tambora, in the East Indies (Sumbawa island / modern-day Indonesia) in April of 1815, threw enormous amounts of dust & sulphur dioxide into the stratosphere, which spread around the globe, not only cutting out direct insolation, but leading to a distortion of the global wind circulation [via stratospheric / high tropospheric temperature changes]. In Europe, grain harvests were late, and in western areas of Britain and across Ireland, continuous rain / low temperatures led to total failure of crops with much distress.
Notably cold periods June to September). In particular, summer 1816 had a CET value of just 13.4degC, putting it firmly in the top 2 or 3 coldest summers by that measure.
The annual (estimated) CET for 1816=7.9degC, about 1.3degC below the 'all-series' mean. (NB: however, that Scotland was apparently drier/sunnier than elsewhere - this is taken to imply depressions taking a much more southward path. ) [ See also 1883/Krakatoa ]
September & October 1816 2nd September: Sharp frost: ice on water near London (Luke Howard) .. this in early September remember!!: (This was described as 'the year without a summer' - see above; there were snowdrifts still on Helvellyn, Lake District, on the 30th July. )
After the cold, cheerless summer & early autumn [above], on October 20th, local accounts covering NE Scotland note ' a great hurricane & snowstorm. The stooks of corn were yet out in the fields, and the snow had to be cast to get at them; when dug out they were a frozen lump, and could not be thawed for the cattle '.
1817 (Summer) A wet summer across England & Wales. (according to Lamb, in CHMW). The anomaly is given as 149% of LTA (1916-1950).
1817 was also a 'bad' year across Scotland - with early (i.e. autumnal) frosts damaging / delaying the autumn harvest & much hardship in rural / highland areas.]
[ It may be that this obviously cyclonic type was a consequence of the cold, disturbed patterns induced by the Tambora event .. see above. ]
1817 (September) Fog on 7 days in September (London/South).
January 1818 Severe westerly gale damaged buildings in Edinburgh; repeated SW-NW gale on the 14th/15th.
March 1818 Very severe gales caused much damage on 4th, 7th & 8th March.
Notably wet across England & Wales (using the EWP series).
1818 (summer) The summer was claimed to be the longest, driest & warmest in living memory. (?London/South) Overall, using the CET series, the anomaly for the three summer months (JJA) was +1.3C, with June (16.4degC/+2.1C) & July (18.2degC/+2.3C) notably warm. However, August was slightly cooler than average, with an anomaly of -0.3C. It was certainly a dry season, with an EWP figure of 102mm representing ~50% of the all-series mean. At Greenwich, only 40mm of rain was recorded over these three months, with August particularly dry: the value measured at the time (in inches) was 0.1" (or 2.5mm). This remarkable summer was followed by a wet autumn.
1819 (May) A period of severe frost affected large areas of Britain around the end of the month, tentatively in the period 27th to 30th (based on CET daily series). Considerable plant damage reported as far apart as the Forest of Dean (Gloucestershire), Rugby & several places in Scotland.
1819 (October) Snow fell across southern England (including the London area) on the 22nd; amounts in London around 2 inches / 5 cm reported, with greater amounts in the (then very) rural areas of Surrey.
1819 A wet year (in London).
1819/20 (early to mid-winter & 'winter' half-year) Notably cold weather by CET series. Both December 1819 & January 1820 were notably cold (though not in the 'top-10' of such-named months), and the overall winter season figure of 1.4degC represented an anomaly of around -2.3C on the all-series mean and was ranked just outside the top-20 of coldest winters by this measure. Perhaps of more interest, since this winter, there have only been 6 colder such-seasons viz (date order, with value): 1829/30(1.1), 1837/38(1.4), 1878/79(0.7), 1894/95(1.2), 1946/47(1.1) & 1962/63(-0.3).
[ NB: February not nearly so cold.]
On the 21st/22nd October, 1819 - falls of snow across southern England: snow lay fairly deeply in Surrey (5cm reported in London) after a fall in the early hours of the 22nd probably as a result of a vigorous plunge of Arctic air.
Snow fell widely & heavily towards the end of December, particularly notable on the 28th. During the first three weeks of January, a particularly severe spell produced deep snow across many southern & southeastern counties of England, including the Isle of Wight. The non-tidal Thames froze as far downstream as Kew. There were ice floes in the Thames estuary, with shipping disrupted (very important to commerce in these pre-railway days).
At Tunbridge Wells (Kent) a temperature of (minus)23degC was reported, but there are no details of exposure, instrument etc.('Weather Eye' / Issue 19 / Ian Currie)
Looking at the longer 'winter half-year' of 1819-1820 [October - March], then all months were COLDER than average with respect to the 'all-series' means & notably so when compared with modern data: for example, the monthly sequence of anomalies w.r.t. 1971-2000 averages is: -1.3C, -2.8C, -3.7C, -4.5C, -1.0C & -1.6C.
January 1820 Minus 23degC (-10degF) reported at Tunbridge Wells - no details of exposure known.
1820 (summer) A wet summer (in London).
May 1821 27th: snow in London area. One of the latest known, and possibly *the* latest until 2nd June 1975. (noted as lasting for some 5 minutes).
November & December 1821 A wet couple of months (November and December 1821). Total EWP rainfall=307mm, or about 160% of average. By December, the Thames had risen so much that it flooded the church at Bisham, with a local bridge being washed away on the 26th December. The river was at its highest on the 27th; it was noted at the time as being within 3 inches of the level of the significant floods of 1809. The flooding continued into the New Year.
1821 (December) Extremely low atmospheric pressure reading in London. At around 0500/25th, a reading of 948.7mbar (originally read in inches/to nearest 1/1000'th) was observed at Greenwich. Until at least 2006, this is the lowest known reading for the 'London' & SE area (Burt/'Weather'/January 2007).
1821 (Annual) A wet year (in London).
A very wet year using the EWP series (across England & Wales). The %age value was ~115% of the whole-series mean. It was also a notably wet year in the London area (and by rough extension, the SE of England), where Greenwich recorded 34.5 inches (~876 mm) of rain, representing at least 140% of the long-term average. (LW) [ See also the general note at the head of the 1800s ]
1821/1822 (August - June) 11 months with the CET values above the all-series average, with eight of them (September, November & December 1821, January to March 1822 & May & June 1822) all >1C above the average & five of them (November, December, February, March & June) >2C above.
[ This extended period of warmth was sandwiched between a notably cold late spring/ early-mid summer of 1821 (anomaly ~ -1.6C) and the chilly 'high summer' of 1822. ]
1821/1822 (Winter) Notably mild. The CET value was 5.8degC, some 2C above the all-series mean & in the top dozen-or-so mild winters in this long established series.
Significant flooding along the Thames over the months of December & January: hardly surprising, given the excess of rainfall in the second-half of 1821, with November & December (EWP) taken together seeing a figure of some 150-160% of the long term average rainfall. Floods were reported from Henley, Maidenhead & Kingston-upon-Thames. (LW)
This winter was often stormy according to Lamb [see entry against February, below], and as noted above, was notably mild.
1822 (February) Severe gale did a great deal of damage on 5th February (London/South?).
1822/23 (Winter) The notably mild winter of 1821/22 (see above) was followed by a notably cold winter! The 3-month average for this season was 1.4degC, representing an anomaly of over -2C on the all-series mean.(CET). During this severe winter, there was much ice in the Thames at Greenwich by the 30th December.
Feb. 1823 8th: Great snowstorm in N. England: the ways subsequently opened by tunnelling through drifts.
1823 (Summer) Using the CET series (began 1659), this summer was one of the coldest by that measure across England & Wales.
October to December 1823 31st October: gales.
Thames in flood at Windsor at the beginning of November.
Gales 17th December did great damage.
1824 A very wet year using the EWP series (across England & Wales). The %age value was ~113% of the whole-series mean. It was also a notably wet year in the London area (and by rough extension, the SE of England), where Greenwich recorded 36.3 inches (~922 mm) of rain, representing at least 150% of the long-term average. (LW)
[ See also the general note at the head of the 1800s ]
3rd March: Serious damage caused by gale (London/South).
Autumn: with an EWP value of 388mm (~150% of LTA), this Autumn is one of the dozen or so wettest such seasons in that series. A number of reports of flooding around the country.
On the evening of the 22nd November 1824, a vigorous depression, almost certainly producing a significant storm surge, affected much of the south coast of England, with the high winds causing much damage well away from the coast. A naval officer (variously recorded as being in either Portland [SW Dorset] or Sidmouth [SE Devon]) likened the wind strength, and its effects in coastal areas, to that of a "West Indian hurricane": this may be one of the earliest uses of that name in connection with a 'mid-latitude'/extra-tropical cyclone. Indeed in one report after the event, he is quoted as saying that the wind strengths were greater than a hurricane, though of course the latter are variable anyway & it would depend upon his personal experience. [Ref & much more data:]
1825 (February) Fog on 6 days in February (London/South).
4th/5th: major storm affecting the North Sea & adjacent coasts; the bulk of the problems (wind damage/storm surge) seems to have been a feature for the continental side of the Sea, but high winds would also have affected the Scottish & English coastline, as a very strong gradient from the NNW developed from the second-half of the 3rd February.
1825 (summer) A dry summer - probably across a good part of Britain.
> July 1825 was exceptionally dry by the EWP series: with a value of just 8.2 mm (~12% modern LTA), this is the driest July in the England & Wales Precipitation [EWP] series (up to 2014 update), and the 10th driest any month in that series.
> With the extended drought (see above), it is not surprising that this month also experienced a hot spell; we only have records for the London & Home Counties area, but in central London (Somerset House) there was a sequence of days from the 12th to 20th (9 days) with the maximum temperature >=80degF (>=27degC), with the highest value on the 19th at 89degF (~32degC). At Datchet (then Buckinghamshire, now Berkshire, near Windsor), on four days (15th, 17th, 18th & 19th) the temperature in a 'shaded' area of a garden was recorded between 90 and 96degF (latter is ~36degC); these values are probably too high by modern standards but give an idea of the intensity of the heat. [Phil Trans Royal Society]
1825 Violent gales did much damage 5th August.
Snow fell on 20th & 21st October (?London/South).
Damaging gales 3rd November.
1826 (January) A notably cold January (~-3C anomaly/CET) with 'a great deal of ice' noted on the Thames at Greenwich on the 13th January, and nearly frozen (?over) at Deptford on the 17th (LW).
1826 (Summer) 1. June, July and August: persistently warm weather by CET series. For these three months, the figure was 17.6degC, placing it as the second hottest summer in that series (began 1659) after 1976.
The period mid-June to mid-July using the CET series, was one (of two) hottest 30-day periods in that series, with a value of 19.7degC. (See also 1976)
2. Dry by the EWP series. June 1826, with 12.4mm, was the 3rd driest June in that series (update to 1998). Total (summer) rainfall was just 122mm .. not 'record-breaking', but still noteworthy. " A warm summer" (London/South).
1826: (Annual) A dry year, in the top 20 dry years in the EWP series, and just inside the 'top-10' (as at 2002).
1827 A dry summer (London/South).
1828 (Summer & Annual) A wet summer (148% of LTA 1916-1950) across England & Wales (according to Lamb/CHMW).
It was also a wet year by the EWP series.
Gale damaged houses & trees on the night 9th/10th August (London/South?).
1828 A wet year.
1829 A cold year: Continuous frost 16th to 24th January; ice in the Thames on 23rd January.
A notably wet summer (168% of LTA 1916-1950) across England & Wales (according to Lamb/CHMW). Note the second wet summer in a row, though only three years after a notably dry year of 1826! [N.B. Warm & dry across the northern highlands of Scotland during May & June; local drought here - hence the dramatic impact of the floods / high rainfall noted below.]
The 'extended' summer (June to September) showed a %age of 185%.
Over an inch (~2.5cm) of snow fell on the 7th October. Six inches (circa 15cm) on 25th November (?London/South). (see also entries below).
1829 (July) July, had an EWP of 144mm, and this represented ~230% of the LTA. There was severe flooding on tributaries of the River Aire & reservoir failure at Adel, Leeds (W. Yorkshire) in this month.
August 1829 Disastrous floods of all rivers between Moray & Angus, after torrential rains 2nd to 4th August, with NE winds & waterspouts. Stone bridges and houses washed away in 5 or 6 counties, coastline altered at river mouths. (July had been very thundery in the South, but cold with night frosts in Scotland).
27th: Further floods in the same districts in NE Scotland as above.
August 1829 in particular was in the 'top-10' of wet such-named months in the EWP series: floods washed away bridges, altered river courses & caused much loss to agriculture. It was also a cold month, with an anomaly of around minus one-and-a-half C.
October & November 1829 7th October: snow lay for a while in the London area & elsewhere in the South. From Aylesbury (Buckinghamshire) there was a report of a heavy fall of snow for three hours. (Up to the 1960s, the earliest known date .. "several inches" according to contemporary reports).
14th October: Severe NE gale 13th/14th in Scotland; ships lost.
25th November: ENE gale in Scotland: many ships lost.
1829/30 (Winter) Severe winter. Almost continuous frost 23rd to 31st December 1829, 12th to 19th January 1830 and then 31st January to 6th February. Much ice in the Thames on the 29th December and 22nd January. Thames at Greenwich blocked by ice on 3rd February, but all the ice had drifted out to sea by the 10th February.
The CET value for the three 'standard' winter months of December, January & February was 1.1degC, or an approximate 'all-series' negative anomaly of over two-and-a-half C. Further afield, Lake Constance in central Europe froze over completely for the first time since 1740, and it did not do so again until 1963.
1830 (Spring, Summer & early Autumn) Another rather wet period from April to September (England & Wales).
A wet summer (in London). Further afield, the summer of 1830 was noted as being "remarkably cold & wet" in Kendal, Westmorland. Using the CET & EWP series, for the three months June, July & August, the overall temperature anomaly was -1C & the precipitation value represented well over 150% of the all-series mean precipitation.
1830 (December) 1. 'Spectacular "White Christmas" ' this year is thought to be the model on which Charles Dickens based his 'Christmas at Dingley Dell' episode in 'Pickwick papers'.
2. Minimum temperature at Greenwich on 25th December was on 11degF (- 12degC).
1831 A wet year (in London). During a severe storm, 1 inch (25mm) of rain fell in about 30 minutes. Thunderstorms daily from 2nd to 5th August in London.
1832 (February) Thick fog 22nd to 25th February (London/South).
1832 (Summer) A dry summer across (at least) southern Scotland [more data needed - this taken from local newspaper reports for Moffat in the Border country].
1833: (February) Wettest February (as of 2007) in the EWP record.
1833: (May) Warm & dry, at least across much of England & Wales. Using the CET series, it was the warmest May on record by a large margin over its nearest rival, 1848. The value quoted (MetO/Hadley series) is 15.1degC, or an anomaly on the 'whole-series' of roughly +4C.
This month was also dry, at least across the domain of the England & Wales precipitation series: with a value of 22 mm, this represents roughly a third of 'average' rainfall, and places it (as at 2008) equal 10th driest with 1956, in that series.
1833/1834: (Winter) 1. One of the warmest winters (by CET) in the series which began in 1659. Up to 1997, rank=2 Value=6.53; Dec=6.9, Jan=7.1, Feb=5.6 (Others: 1686, 1734, 1796, 1869, 1935, 1975, 1989 and 1990.)
2. Notably WET January by the EWP series.
1834/35 to 1837/38: (Winters/Springs): sequence of 4 notably SEVERE winters/cold-springs in Scotland.) 1. 1834/1835: Notably snowy winter in Scotland. By the third week of January, 1835, there had been enough snow to seriously disrupt the 'Mails', but it was not until the end of February that the greatest quantities were reported. The bad/snowy weather lasted well into mid-March, with depths of 8 or 9 feet being reported.
2. 1835/1836: Another bad winter for snow in Scotland. From December until the end of March, snow was a feature. Heavy falls were reported in January and February, 1836, followed by 'considerable' accumulations in March, especially across northern Scotland. In Edinburgh, snow was a problem as late as the 31st March, and it was not until 7th April that there was a significant easing in the situation.
3. A very wet March across England & Wales in 1836; (in the 'top - 10' of wettest such-named months in the EWP series).
4. 1836/1837: Although considerable snowfall was reported in January, 1837, the worst of the weather as far as snow was concerned, was still to come. blizzards began at the end of February and on the 14th March, the weather was still 'severe'. All through March, the weather is still described as 'severe' both as to cold & snow. Much transport dislocation, and distress to livestock, damage to root crops etc. On the 12th April, the Glasgow Chronicle reported that the Campsie and Kilpatrick Hills were still white with snow. The wheat was so badly damaged by frost that the farmers had harrowed it down, and were sowing oats instead. Deer were dying through lack of fodder in the hills & the frost was so severe that many lambs died immediately they were born.
5. 1837/1838: Further considerable snowfall across Scotland. However a late start to the winter, with as late as the 6th January, the weather reported as mild with farmers well on with the work. After the 8th, hard frosts & snow however then became a feature of the winter/early spring, with further notes of disrupted mails, hardship for people and livestock. In some parts of northern Scotland, snow was noted to fall on most days between January 8th & May 3rd. snow was also noted in upland areas of NE Scotland in June.
6. 1837/1838: A cold winter across England & Wales. In the CET record, the value is given as 1.4degC, an approximate anomaly of -2.3C on the all-series mean. Of particular note were the low temperatures experienced during January, 1838, when the monthly average (CET) is assessed as -1.5degC, equal 8th coldest such named month in the series (with 1709 & 1881); the estimated anomaly for this month being over four-and-a-half degC colder than the long-term mean. Indeed, this month only fails by a whisker to make it into the 10 'all/any-month' coldest list. (CET)
A dry spell from February to June, then a wet summer (in London).
Fog from 30th September to 6th October (London/South).
1835 (summer) A dry summer (London/South).
1836 (March) A very wet March across England & Wales in 1836; (in the 'top - 10' of wettest such-named months in the EWP series).
October 1836 28th (or 29th?): Snow lay in Edinburgh 4 to 5 inches (10 to 13cm) deep: earliest date (up to 1960s).
Remarkable (compared with conditions for the late 20th/early 21st century) snowfall in the east and southeast on the 29th. An inch (2.5cm) in London, and five inches (eleven or twelve inches claimed in places) lay at Bury St. Edmunds (Suffolk) for five days. Two inches (circa 5 cm) at Cobham (Surrey), which lay for 5 days, with day maxima barely above freezing. From ng/GPE: 25 cm at Newmarket (Suffolk) (LW, amongst others)
29th November 1836 A severe gale blew down trees and unroofed houses (London/South?).
25th December 1836 Great ENE gale and snowstorm 25th - 26th, many lives lost: roads throughout England impassable for several days, snow 5 to 15 feet (1.5 to 4.5 metres) deep in many places, a few great drifts 20 to 50 feet (6 to 15m). [ see also entry above and below for whole winter.]
1836 - 1837 (winter & early spring) Although considerable snowfall was reported in January, 1837, the worst of the weather as far as snow was concerned, was still to come. Blizzards began at the end of February and on the 14th March, the weather was still 'severe'. All through March, the weather is still described as 'severe' both as to cold & snow. Much transport dislocation, and distress to livestock, damage to root crops etc. On the 12th April, the Glasgow Chronicle reported that the Campsie and Kilpatrick Hills were still white with snow. The wheat was so badly damaged by frost that the farmers had harrowed it down, and were sowing oats instead. Deer were dying through lack of fodder in the hills & the frost was so severe that many lambs died immediately they were born.
During this winter, the only (known) disastrous snow avalanche in these islands occurred on the 27th December 1836, at Lewes, Sussex. Heavy snow started to fall on Christmas Eve, and easterly gales blowing over the top of Cliffe Hill with associated eddies, caused a cornice of snow to build up, overhanging a row of houses which stood below. Three days later, on the 27th, bright sunshine caused a fissure in the cornice. Householders ignored a warning. The houses were demolished, and eight people were killed. The "Snowdrop Inn" on the site commemorates the event.
1837 (Spring) The coldest spring (March / April / May) in the entire CET record. March, with a value of 2.3degC (anom. ~-3C) was one of the 'top-10' such-named months, whilst April (4.7degC/anom. ~-3.2C) was the coldest April in the entire series. May was also cold (anom. ~-1.3). The overall seasonal mean CET value was 5.6degC, or around -2.5C on the all-series value (and about 3C below the 'modern-day' average). (See also 1770 & 1695)
Snow or sleet showers on the 10th & 22nd May (?London/South?) [ see also 1770 & 1695]
1837/38 (Winter & early Spring) This severe winter was called "Murphy's winter"; Patrick Murphy won fame and a small fortune from the sale of an almanac in which he predicted the severe frost of January 1838 (a 2 month frosty period set in with a light SE wind & fine day with hoar frost on the 7th (or 8th) January).
20th January 1838: Lowest temperatures (known / accepted) of the 19th century in London; -16degC reported at Greenwich about sunrise (close to minimum time), -20degC at Blackheath, -26degC at Beckenham (Kent). The temperature in Greenwich was -11degC at midday. The Thames at Greenwich was completely covered with ice at high water on the 27th January 1838 & elsewhere, ice floes were reported in the Thames or the Estuary.
Considerable snowfall across Scotland. However a late start to the winter, with as late as the 6th January, the weather being reported as mild with farmers well on with the work. After the 8th, hard frosts & snow then became a feature of the winter/early spring, with further notes of disrupted mails, hardship for people and livestock. In some parts of northern Scotland, snow was noted to fall on most days between January 8th & May 3rd. snow was also noted in upland areas of NE Scotland in June.
A cold winter across England & Wales. (Easton, in CHMW/Lamb): Using the CET record, the average across December / January / February was 1.4degC, or nearly 21/2C below the all-series mean. December was not particularly extreme, but January, with a value of -1.5degC, was in the 'top-10' of coldest Januarys, whilst February, with a mean value of 0.4degC, lay just outside the top-10 coldest such-named months in the same record.
1. On the evening of the 24th February, 1838, a southerly gale developed (" more violent than for years "), this veering west-southwesterly through the night and coincided with a high tide in the early hours of the 25th. The inside slope of the Bude Breakwater (built to protect the harbour/canal entrance between 1820 and 1822) gave way (?scouring / over-topping?), with three-quarters of the structure giving way. [ Apparently the mortar had been weakened by a severe frost in the winter; however, the structure was also deemed to have had too steep a slope, and the replacement breakwater was of much better construction, and has survived many a gale to this day/2003.] damage also occurred to sea structures all along the south coast of England, including the Plymouth breakwater.
1838 (late Summer / Autumn) Following a severe winter/early spring of 1838 over Scotland [ see above ], the crops were already delayed, and were then damaged in the ground by frost in August, with the cold, frosty weather continuing through September & October. A large proportion of the crop was lost, with much hardship for rural tenants.
1838 Cold year:
fog on 11 days in September (London/South).
Snow showers on the 13th October (?London/South?).
January 1839 "The Night of the 'Big Wind'": this is the most notorious of all storms to affect Ireland (also affected other parts of the British Isles - see later). An unusually deep depression (one of the deepest ever recorded so close to the British Isles) travelling in a north-east direction to the north of Ireland was responsible for gusts widely 75-90 knots, and in excess of 100 knots in a few places; Lamb says there is 'evidence of whirlwind / tornado activity'. At least 90 people were killed across Ireland & surrounding waters, though the death toll was surprisingly low, allowing for the lack of warning. There was considerable damage to buildings, shipping and crops right across the island. Around 20-25% of houses in Dublin experienced some form of damage, though some was minor (broken windows). Several tens of thousands of trees were uprooted. The aforementioned storm also affected other parts of the British Isles, particularly western & northern parts of Britain. The newly-built Menai Bridge was severely damaged. In Liverpool & in the adjacent waters of the Irish Sea, much damage ensued - building damage ashore, and loss of vessels & lives afloat. Deaths in the Liverpool area, both on land & at sea is stated to be around 115, with many-a-breach of local sea walls, and the death total across the entire British Isles may have been in excess of 400. (Remember that coastal shipping was of great importance in these days before the railway network reached all corners of the Kingdom - also Ireland was then an integral part of the United Kingdom).
1839 May Showers of snow, sleet and hail on the 14th & 15th May.
1839 (Summer, Autumn & early Winter) A wet summer (148% of LTA 1916-1950) across England & Wales. Specifically, July 1839 was in the 'top-10' of wettest such-named months in the EWP series.
Over the longer period from June to November 1839, using the EWP series, the RAINFALL %age was around 150% averaged over the England & Wales domain, and probably close to twice-average across southern England.
1839 (Annual) A wet year and a wet summer (in London).
A cold year for Scotland. Specifically for agricultural areas of NE Scotland (though not exclusively so - just that this is the area I have data), the following are noted:
> March: a severe snowstorm, with much drifting - loss of life.
> May: about the middle of that month, there was a heavy fall of snow with much drifting.
> September: Severe flooding after heavy rainfall. Damage / destruction of bridges in the area.
Over England & Wales, the period June 1839 to January 1840 was notably wet (including the wet summer - see above); the cumulative anomaly for this period was 140%.
In December, FOG 1st to 7th December (London/South).
1840 (Autumn) Excessively wet over parts of Scotland, particularly the northeast.
1840 (November) Thick fog 27th to 29th November (London/South).
1840 A dry year both by the London & England & Wales series. From the Greenwich record, the total rainfall for this year was 16.43 inches / ~417mm, or about 70% of the contemporary average. February, March, April, August & December were all dry, March & April notably so (just 0.09 ins / ~2mm in the latter month). Using the wider England & Wales series, the total was 801mm (~88% of LTA), with March & April very dry: March 1840, with 10mm (~13%) of rain was the third driest such-named month in the entire series. (LW/EWP)[ contrast with Scotland in the autumn - below ]
1840/41 (winter) Severe winter. All three winter months had CET anomalies considerably below average.
1841 (High summer & autumn) A wet sequence of months from July to November inclusive across England & Wales. Using the EWP series, the approximate anomaly for the period overall was 140-150%. No individual month was exceptionally wet by this series, but the consistency of high rainfall (May & June also had above-average values) led to local flooding later in the year. This was a period of feverish railway building in Britain, and work was often affected due to collapse of cuttings / embankments etc. [ various railway histories ]
1842 & 1843 (Decembers) For two years running, these Decembers were remarkably mild, with CET values respectively 7.2 & 7.4degC: these values represent an anomaly on the all-series mean of at least +3C, and on the modern-era mean of at least +2C. As of 2008, these two early-winter months are comfortably within the 'top-10' of this long established series.
1844 (Annual) One of the driest years across England and Wales using the EWP series.
April, May (DRIEST May in that series), June & December all exceptionally dry.
1844/1845 (Winter) A cold winter over western Europe / implied for parts of Britain. (Easton, in CHMW/Lamb)
1845 (late Summer/early Autumn): BLIGHT & CROP FAILURE ACROSS EUROPE
1. Notably cold weather July to September. The summer of 1845 (June, July & August) had a mean CET=14.2degC, around a degree below the all-series mean. Specifically, August 1845 was over 2 degC colder than average. This summer was part of a run of poor such seasons from 1843 to 1845, with significantly below average temperatures using the CET series.
2. Persistent / often heavy rains over Ireland accompanied by depressed temperatures during the second half of the summer, precipitated the start of a great famine. The failure was caused by rotting of the potato (a staple food for poor families in the island) in the ground - the weather conditions (cold / damp) being ideal for spread of the spores which caused the Blight. By October of 1845, there had been a total collapse of the Irish potato source. The situation was made worse because of the failure of the corn harvest in Britain and western Europe, and the indifference of both the government in Westminster [ Ireland was at this time part of the United Kingdom ] & of the land-owners, many of whom were English, or Anglo-Irish.
1845/1846 (Winter) Notably mild winter in Scotland. (c.f. to 'severe' winter conditions much further south e.g. Paris). The generally mild weather lasted from December to early March, when 'winter' set in. The mild conditions were also reflected in the CET record, where the value was 5.8degC (roughly +2C), placing the winter within the top dozen-or-so of mild winters.
1846 (April) A wet month, with an EWP value of 112 mm, representing roughly 180% of the contemporary LTA. In Dorset, work on the Southampton to Dorchester Railway was halted for a time due to the wet conditions underfoot.
May/Jun 1846 Hot, dry spell began on 25th. Ended (as a 25-day exceptionally hot, dry spell) in Ireland on 18th June.
August 1846 1st: Violent thunderstorms. Hail smashed glass arcade over Regent Street pavements in London beyond repair.
1846 (Summer) 1. Further high rainfall in Ireland - causing additional misery after the previous failure of the potato crop (see above). The hardship in the island continued for many years (until at least July 1849), encouraging emigration & fostering the ill-feeling towards rule from England which was to cause so much strife in the next 150 years. In 1841, the census total for Ireland was 8.17mn; by the 1851 tally, it had fallen to 6.55mn: it has been estimated that over 1mn people died due to the Famine.
2. With a CET value of 17.1degC, this summer over England & Wales was in the 'top-5' of WARMEST summers in that series (began 1659). [ I suppose you could speculate that it was for this reason that English landowners did not fully appreciate the plight of poorer people in Ireland. However note that summer 1846 was also WET in the EWP series, with ~125% of LTA rainfall.]
September - November 1846 20th September: Beginning of period of violent gales in Ireland, lasting until 21st November.
20th October: Violent storm in Ireland, probably former tropical hurricane.
1846/1847 (Winter) The winter of 1846/47 was noted for severe frosts and heavy rains across southern England. Using the CET record, December had a value of 0.5degC, at least 3.5C below the all-series mean; January and February anomalies were between -1 and -1.5C. The winter as a whole ranked within the 'top 10%' of coldest winters in this long established series. [CET] { Rainfall, using the EWP series, doesn't appear to be extreme (December relatively dry), but this series may not reflect local conditions. } On the Southampton & Dorchester Railway, then under construction, working across the soils of the New Forest proved to be very difficult. In a single week, a total of 13 horses became stuck in the mud and had to be destroyed.
July 1847 Cloudburst on Bodmin Moor, Cornwall: Flooding rivers destroyed bridges.
1848: (February) 1. One of the wettest Februarys across England & Wales (using the EWP series).
1848 (Summer) A notably wet summer (157% of LTA 1916-1950) across England & Wales (see Lamb/CHMW). At Greenwich, the total rainfall for the three months of June, July & August=247mm (161%). June 1848 was especially wet here (Greenwich), with 89mm or ~210% of LTA. July had below average rainfall (85%), but August was back up to 186% anomaly with 108mm, by far the wettest month of that very wet year (q.v.).
1848 (Annual) 9th wettest in the EWP series (as of 2004). Notable floods along the Thames Valley.
April 1849 Great snowstorm in S. England: Westerham (Kent) coach buried in drifts.


[See also]

Climate, history and the modern world H.H. Lamb Methuen 1982

The English climate H.H. Lamb English Universities Press 1964

London Weather J.H. Brazell HMSO (Meteorological Office) 1968

Regional climates of the British Isles D. Wheeler and J. Mayes Routledge 1997

The Bude Canal Helen Harris & Monica Ellis David & Charles 1972

Weatherwise Philip Eden Macmillan 1995 (and updated)

The Weather Factor Erik Durschmied Hodder & Stoughton 2000

Historic Storms of the North Sea, British Isles & NW Europe H.H. Lamb Cambridge University Press 1991

Central England Temperature series (Met Office / Hadley Centre)

England and Wales Precipitation series (Met Office / Hadley Centre)

Contributors to newsgroup

Tornado and Storm Research Organisation

Volcanoes Decker & Decker

Weather Eye Issue 19 Ian Currie

Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society [ individual papers and annual weather summaries]