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Gordon Hensman's Weatherview

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: March 06, 2014

  • The blizzards of the winter of 1947

  • Spring has sprung

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THE BLACK COUNTRY

Birthplace of Industrial Revolution

Weather in Dudley for 21st -28th February 2014

SUMMARY

This was an exceptionally mild period, but despite rain falling on every day except one, rainfall was moderate due to a lull in the frequency of depressions affecting the British Isles. Once again it was an almost frost free period – just ideal for slugs and snails to damage the signs of new growth. In my garden they love the new shoots of delphiniums – so go out and check yours.

TEMPERATURE

1. Mean maximum 9.8, 49.5F

2. Anomaly +3.5

3. Mean minimum 3.6, 38.5F

4. Anomaly +2.3

5. Average of max. & min. 6.7, 44F

6. Anomaly +2.9

7. Highest/date 11.1, 52F 22nd

8. Lowest/date 1.5, 34.5F 21st

9. Days with air frost 0

10. Days with grass frost 4

11. Lowest grass/date -4.0, 24.5F 16th

12. Mean 30cm soil depth 5.0, 41F

PRECIPITATION

13. Days with rain/snow 7

14. Total fall 10.7mm

15. Wettest day 5.7mm 21st

16. Days with snow falling 0

17. Days with hail 2

HUMIDITY

18. Mean Relative Humidity 9h 87%

AIR PRESSURE

19. Average at 9h 1005mb

20. Highest/date 1007mb 27th

21. Lowest/date 996mb 25th

WIND DIRECTIONS

22. N 0, NE 1, E 0, SE 0, S 2, SW 2, W 3, NW 0, CALM 0

PAST FEBRUARIES

28th 1662 Some places in the British Isles and the adjacent continent such as the Netherlands and Denmark, have suffered badly during the winter as a result of storm force winds. Coupled with record rainfall over the last couple of months or so, the damage to some coastal areas such as Barmouth, Aberystwyth, Dawlish and some towns on the North Sea coast, the disruption due to gales has created a record unsettled winter – and that is to say nothing of the dreadful inland floods.

However do not think that this is unprecedented – far from it.

Samuel Pepys writes, "We have letters from the Forrest of Deane, that above 1000 oakes and as many beeches are blown down in one walke there."

Furthermore, he writes of 'Windy Tuesday': "Everywhere full of brick battes and tyeles flung down by the extraordinary Winde the last night (such hath not been in memory before) that it was dangerous to go out of doors.

"Several persons have been killed today by the fall of things in the streets."

The destruction of forest timber may not seem very serious to us nowadays, but it was a serious matter to the Royal Navy, which consumed some 3,800 trees, 75 acres of woodland, to build a third rate ship of the line. Well, every cloud has some sort of silver lining, and this gale led to the very first treatise on forest management, by Evelyn who presented it to the Royal Society in 1663 – Silva, or a Discourse of Forest Trees and the Propagation of Timber.

SPRING HAS SPRUNG

1st March – Yes, it's March already! Officially it's the first day of spring. March, April and May are the spring months after December, January and February winter months.

1986 Dudley had 9.5cm of lying snow with a daytime maximum temperature of 1.1, 34F after a hard frost.

1947 "Liberal doses of cod liver oil have helped the animals at Dudley Zoo to combat the weather, supplying the vitamins normally provided by the sun."

Reported in the now defunct County Express. The newspaper also reported the death of a 75 year old man with paralysed legs at Wordsley Institute, after being burned by a metal hot water bottle.

The Smethwick Telephone newspaper reported a Klondyke scene. The site of the derelict Bullocks Farm Colliery was swarming with people excavating for any piece of coal they could find. NB. Coal was the only form of heating and after two months of dreadful winter weather, there was a serious shortage.

2nd 1948 Our major airport, Heathrow, began as an army surplus tent with a bar and a post office in 1946. There was a crash when a Dakota nose-dived into the ground and exploded. Rescuers reported seeing a gentleman in a bowler hat and twill trousers asking about his briefcase. This gave rise to the myth of the ghost of Runway One. There have been intermittent sightings of this phantom ever since – which, of course, you will instantly dismiss. However, you may well have second thoughts when you learn that the ghost has been detected by radar.

4th 1947 The blizzard which swept England and Wales on this date, re-buried an already paralysed country. Snow had fallen every day since 21st January and the Black Country Ridge had a total fall of six feet by mid-March. It was the snowiest winter in modern times in the West Midlands, and the coldest ever February.

5th 1947 Two motorists were charged with "during the hours of darkness, causing a motor car to remain at rest otherwise than with the left or nearside as close as may be to the edge of the carriageway." This most dreadful offence took place outside Sedgley Conservative Club, during a severe blizzard. They pleaded that the kerb was covered by a ridge of snow and they couldn't see it.

STILL FOOD RATIONING

6th "WOLVERHAMPTON'S WEEK-END [MEAT] RATION IS SAFE DESPITE THE BLIZZARD," reported the local newspaper, "in spite of the chaotic road conditions left by the worst Midlands blizzard for generations, Wolverhampton's food supplies for the week-end are ensured.

"In all, about a dozen buses had to be abandoned in the snow last night – some at Sedgley, some at Pattingham, and a bus on Penn Common."

YOU MAY BE INTERESTED

TO KNOW ...

1.Archaeological evidence reveals that there have been humans in the British Isles for at least 80,000 years. It was easy at times for people to cross from the mainland, as the southern North Sea and the English Channel did not exist.

However, a surprising feature of our Mesolithic ancestors about 7,000 years ago has been revealed by a team from the Institute of Evolutionary Biology in Barcelona. Genetic analysis of one man's skeleton found in Spain, has shown that he was dark skinned with black hair and, surprisingly, had blue eyes.

2. Mind your tongue. Every world religion has had its periods of intolerance when to disagree with certain beliefs leads to persecution and often execution. Certain adherents of Islam are actively practising intolerance in some countries even now, and Christianity has a sorrowful record of persecution of minorities which is still manifest in parts of Africa.

Medieval England was a dangerous place to be if you weren't quiet when you disagreed with the Church, but I was surprised to discover that the last execution for blasphemy in Britain took place as late as 1697 in Scotland.

In January of that year, twenty years old Thomas Aitkenhead became the last person to be killed by the church for his beliefs. He was at Edinburgh University, where he was able to read what the Church called, "atheistically, erroneous or profane or vicious" literature. He had persistently "ridiculed the holy scriptures" claiming that Christian theology was a rhapsody of ill-invented nonsense, patched up partly of poetical fictions and extravagant chimeras."

He declared that he looked forward to life in hell because it was bound to be warmer. The Church of Scotland's General Assembly asserted that only the strictest punishment would stamp out, "the abounding of impiety and profanity in this land." Are you not thankful that we live in more tolerant times?

3. Demise of the Shire Horses? The tractor was invented in Great Britain by Dan Albone of Biggleswade, Bedfordshire in 1896. In heavy soil ploughing was a tedious and hard process using the large Shire Horses. He called his invention the Ivel Agricultural Motor, which he patented, and subsequently exported all over the world.

4.Iron instead of bricks. Skyscrapers were only made possible as a result of an innovation in building construction in Shropshire in 1797 by Charles Bage, who designed the Ditherington Flax Mill in Shrewsbury, using an iron frame work to avoid fire. It was five storeys high. Bricks and stones are able to take great compressive forces as they have tremendous strength to resist crushing, but steel framed buildings are a lot stronger and bit more flexible to resist sideways forces especially.

5. Dogs – You love them and hate them

Have you ever taken your dog for a walk, and constantly had to guide the animal in a direction it appears that it doesn't want to go? Yes, we all have. Well, I wonder if it is because of forces we cannot detect?

Researchers in Germany and the Czech Republic have discovered that defecating dogs tend to align themselves north- south along the earth's magnetic lines of force. Apparently, this happens only during periods of calm magnetic field conditions which only prevail for less than a quarter of the time.

WEATHER EVENTS AROUND THE GLOBE IN JANUARY

1st Temperatures have exceeded 31, 88F, every day since 13th in Buenes Aires, putting such a strain on the Argentine national grid that there have been many power cuts as people try to keep cool with air conditioning units which use a lot of electricity.

2nd The north-east of USA had very heavy snowfalls with 60 cm widespread. Upstate New York had 90cm. The wind chill in New York was reportedly -25,-13F All the airports were closed as were all schools

3rd Australia has recorded the hottest year on record. Average temperatures were 1.2 above the long term average of 21.8, 71.5F. The heat increased across Western Australia late in December before moving into South Australia and eventually across parts of Queensland.

New South Wales in early January. The highest temperature was in Moomba, South Australia on the 2nd with 49.3, 121F.

8th-9th Much of Europe has had an exceptionally mild winter. Scandinavia and Western Russia has had a particularly mild winter with many normally snow-covered areas having no snow. Oslo had its third warmest December on record. Iceland has been having a very cold winter.

11th-12th A powerful cyclone brought devastation to Tonga in the Pacific.

16th-20th Unusually heavy rains hit the French Riviera, killing two people.

21st In the Philippines forty two people were killed in floods.

26th Detroit has had its snowiest January on record.

29th Atlanta had an ice storm (freezing rain) – paralysing the city and causing over 800 traffic accidents.

A cold spell swept eastern Europe with blizzards affecting the Balkans.

30th Australia. Bush fires were out of control in Victoria, with more than 140,000 hectares burnt. This is nothing new during an Australian summer.

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