UK Weather - past and present
Month of December
Doncaster December, 1697
"...there happened a great inundation in the levels, by means of the great rains which fell above, and the high tides, that encreased the waters so much, that they broke the banks, and drowned the country for a vast many miles about- My father and others in general that dwelt there, lost very considerably in their winter corn, besides the great expence they were put to by boating their cattle to the hills and firm land, with the trouble of keeping them there for two or three months. I have been several times upon the banks, (which are about three yards in height,) when they have been full up to the very tops. Nothing appeared on one side, but a terribly tempestuous sea. The water remains about half a week, and sometimes a week, at its full height; whose motions some hundreds of people are waiting day and night. But if it chance to be so strong as to drive away, as it often does, any quantity of the banks, then it drowns all before it, and makes a noise by its fall, which is heard many miles, before they perceive the consequence, and in the place where the water precipitates itself down, it forms a huge pond or pit, sometimes one hundred yards about, and of a vast depth; so that, in that place, it being impossible for the bank to be rebuilt, they always build it half round ; many of which pits may be seen beyond Thorne. "
On the 17th of December, 1697, we had a very great snow, which on the level ground was about two feet and a half thick, after a pretty hard frost, which froze over for several days. On the 20th, it thawed exceedingly ; upon which, there came down so great a flood, that the like was never known. About forty-one years since, there was the greatest flood that was ever remembered, but that was much less than this ; for this came roaring all of a sudden, about eleven o'clock at night, on to Bramwith, Fishlake, Thorne, and other towns upon the Don; upon which, the people rung all their bells backwards, (as they commonly do in cases of great fires;) but though this frightened all to the banks, and bid them all to look about them ; yet, nevertheless, the loss was very great. The people of Sykehouse and Fishlake had banks to save them ; yet it overtopped all, drowned the beasts in the folds, and destroyed their sheep. Several men lost their lives. The houses in Sykehouse, and several in Fishlake, were drowned to the very eaves ; so that they reckon no less than £3,000. damage was done by the same in the parish of Fishlake. It came with such force against all the banks about Thorne, which kept the waters of the levels, that every body gave them over, there being no hopes to save them ; and ran over them altogether ; and the ground being so hard, they could not drive down stakes upon the tops of their banks, to hinder the water from running over. At last, it being impossible that such vast waters should be contained in such small bounds, it burst a huge gime close by Gore... , near Thorne, where there had been gimes formerly, and so drowned the whole levels to an exceedingly great depth ; so that many people were kept so long in the upper part of their houses, that they were almost pined; while all their beasts were drowned about them. It was indeed a sad thing, to hear the oxen bellowing, and the sheep bleating, and the people crying out for help, round about as they did, all over Bramwith, Sykehouse, Stainford, and Fishlake, and undoubtedly in other places ; yet no one could get to help or save them, it being about midnight ; and so many people were obliged to remain for several days together; some upon the tops of their houses, others were in the highest rooms, without meat or fire, until they were almost starved."
Such was the state of the levels in the immediate neighbourhood of Hatfield and Thorne, so late as the latter end of the seventeenth century ; and even so late as one hundred years subsequently, a similar flood would have had the like effect.
Source: Yorkshire: An Historical and Topographical Introduction to a Knowledge of the Wapentake of Strafforth and Tickhill. by John Wainwright 1829
Extraordinary Mildness, December, 1818
In Plymouth in the gardens in full bloom: jonquils, narcissus, hyacinths, anenome, pinks, stocks, african and french marigolds, passion flower and roses, ripe strawberries and raspberries.The oak and elm kept their foliage and the birds are heard as in spring. Source:Plymouth Telegraph
In many parts of the country the oats and barley which did not make an appearance at the proper time, have now come up very luxuriantly and if the winter is not severe will soon be ripe enough for cutting.
15th December, 1823
Effects of the Late Storm at Doncaster. Among other damage effected by the late gale in this neighbourhood, we hear that a mill in Waxey field was burnt to a shell from the velocity with which the sails were driven round. Another mill at Sykehouse is also said to have been similarly injured.
Sheffield: - On Thursday morning, about 3 o'clock, the gale of wind was so tremendous at the top of Bridge-hill, as to blow down a chimney 17 feet high, upon one of the lodging-rooms of Mr. John Taylor, a carpet-manufacturer, broke through and took the whole of the roof of the chamber in which the servant girl was sleeping. She lay in this perilous position until 5 o'clock, before she could be extricated. It is supposed a large beam saved her life.
Leeds: - On the evening of yesterday week, this town and neighbourhood was visited by a storm of wind, which in the course of the night increased to a perfect hurricane, and was productive of very considerable injury. At the top of Marsh-lane a house only recently erected fell down, and overwhelmed a weaving shop belonging to a poor man of the name of Rushforth. The same night the gable end of a building belonging to Mr.Holdworth was blown down. A part of the buildings now erecting in the south market shared the same fate. The chimney, 36 yards in height, attached to Mr. Hirst's paper-mill, fell upon the building. The damage is estimated at upwards of £500. The stone pediments of Mr. Bulman's newly erected warehouse, near the Philosophical-hall, were torn down, and broken to pieces. At Holbeck a chimney from an adjoining house fell upon a cottage, and penetrating through the roof deposited its ponderous materials upon the bed, in which the head of the family and his wife with two children were sleeping; but though the pressure was so great that the legs of the bedstead were forced through the floor, the whole family escaped with their lives. Source:From the Leeds Intelligencer
Extraordinary Temperature of December, 1839
Weather report for December, 1839
The month of December, so far, is characterised by weather more like the genial atmosphere of the latter end of April, than that usually experienced in December. The air is generally mild. A more favourable winter for getting forward out door labour could not be wished, and we rejoice to see that the husbandmen are taking advantage. Agricultural operations were never farther advanced at this season.
3rd December, 1856
Nottingham, December 3rd: - The winter appears to have regularly set in in this district. For several days past, with a biting north wind, the weather has been frosty, and on Monday the ice in many places was sufficiently firm to bear skaters. Yesterday the wind got more southerly, and last night there was a heavy fall of snow. This morning the wind veered in an easterly direction, and the frost continues. Should this severe weather continue a day or two longer our canals will be frozen and navigation impeded. It is seldom that the weather is so severe at this early period of the winter.
Weather in the West Riding: - Another heavy fall of snow occurred in several parts of the West Riding on Tuesday evening, and the ground is covered to a considerable depth in several places. The Great Northern Railway between Newark and Doncaster was so much obstructed that the evening trains were delayed upwards of an hour. Engines with snow ploughs in front were kept at work on the line all night, in addition to which pilot engines were sent out with the passenger trains. By these means the traffic was kept open, and, with the exception of the goods trains, there was but little delay throughout yesterday. The thermometer, which rose to 40 degrees (Fahrenheit) on Tuesday, fell again yesterday to a degree or two above freezing point, and last night it stood very low, the air being uncommonly keen and inclement.
6th December, 1856
The Weather in Yorkshire. - Yesterday (Thursday) morning the frost in Yorkshire was the severest that has been known for many years past. At Doncaster the thermometer sank to zero; at 9am. it stood at 11 deg. (Fahrenheit); at 2pm. 30 deg.; and at 5pm. 23 deg.
Destructive Thunderstorm December 1859
The most extraordinary occurrence of thunder storms in various parts of the country during the late intense frost, when the ground was covered with snow, and in some districts to a considerable depth, has been more severe and more fatal at Firbeck, near Roche Abbey, Oldcoates, than in any other part of the kingdom yet placed on record.
On Wednesday last a storm of this description, accompanied by a heavy fall of rain, passed over this village and the neighbourhood. No event of recent occurrence produced more surprise and consternation than this unusual visitation at a period of the year when it was the least expected.
The flashes of lightning, from clouds at no great elevation from the earth, were intensely vivid and alarming; and the peals of thunder which followed immediately astounding. It was apprehended that some calamity would be the result. But if human life was spared, the deprivation of animal existence was serious, and Mr. Singelhurst, of Firbeck, is unfortunate sufferer. Thirty sheep, two beasts, and three horses were struck with the electric fluid and killed on the spot, to the very serious loss of the owner.
Summary of 1861
The Climate of the Yorkshire Coast - The following rainfall during the past year has been registered by the Scarborough Philosophical and Archaeological Society. Height of rain gauge, nine feet from ground, ninety one and a quarter feet from sea level:-
- January - 0.66 inches
- February - 1.54 inches
- March - 1.77 inches
- April - 1.08 inches
- May - 0.77 inches
- June - 1.66 inches
- July - 2.89 inches
- August - 0.44 inches
- September - 2.08 inches
- October - 1.38 inches
- November - 2.38 inches
- December - 1.38 inches
Total 17.97 inches
Compared with Malton, 20 miles inland, the rainfall has been less by 6.50 inches. It is also much below the register ... ? on the Yorkshire Wolds, where the rainfall during 1861 was 29.812 inches, being only 3.343 less than in 1860. At Scarborough the prevailing winds during December have been south and west, and only on two days has the wind been "strong," all the other entries being either "moderate," "calm," or "gentle." The barometrical readings are between 29.150 and 30.500.
West Riding Weather, 1863
31st December, 1863 - The storm which seems to have been so general throughout the country during the past week has also set in with unusual severity in the West Riding. The ground is covered with snow, in some places to a great depth; and on Wednesday evening the thermometer fell to 19 deg. Fahrenheit. On Thursday night there was a marked change, and the frost appeared about to depart as suddenly as it had come. The wind veered round to the N.W., bringing with it rain and hail; and by Friday morning the thermometer had risen to 38 deg., and a general thaw had commenced. Between 9 and 10 am., the wind again changed again to due north, the thermometer fell to 32 deg., and the air became very keen. This was succeeded by another fall of hail and snow, after which the sun shone out and tempered the severity of the frost until afternoon, when the mercury again descended, and last night there was every prospect of a continuence of the storm.
Meteorological report for 1st December, 1864