11th December 1920. Snow in Summer!
Early June in Britain, can be wintry for around mid-month in 1869 snow was seven inches deep in North Yorkshire, and in early June 1975, snow had fallen in most parts, as far south as Dorset and Devon.(1)
December is not the coldest month of the winter as records in the last 100 years show January and February to have that honour.
Pre-Christmas snowfalls are relatively rare, but can be severe as happened in the December snowfall of 1920.
It started with slight snow on the 10th in the east and south-east, but in the evening of Today the 11th, it fell over a wide area dumping 14 inches at Clacton Essex, whilst at Plymouth it lay for ten days.
An observer near Ipswich reported the snowfall as ranking ‘among the most memorable of the past half-century’. Snow fell until the 16th.(2)
Snow is rare in October, and in September even more so, as on 25th September 1885 when snow was observed in London at a time of abnormally cold, northerly winds, with snow reported in Surrey and Leicestershire, as well as London.
The 19thc was cold and snowy and on nine occasions between 1819 and 1880, snow fell in the Home Counties in October.(3)
The village school log book of Bretby, Derbyshire recorded in 1882 on October 24th [the snow] ’caused scholars to be absent’. Further entries each year between 1878-88, related to heavy falls of snow in November and December.
Snow fell in October in lowland England in 1926, caused by an easterly airflow from the continent and a depression from the Channel, as happened in December 1927, a month dominated by easterly winds, with snow falling widely during the second week.
Snow in 1938 came out of the blue, with many places having no overnight air frosts, before the freeze up. Snow was to fall from the 18th until the 26th December after a warm November.
Five inches was to accumulate in central London-a rare event. The 20th was the coldest day with temperature failing to exceed –3c (27f) over a large part of the country.
Post-war, snow fell in October on the 7th in 1974 and on November 6th 1980. That of 1981 happened in a severe December.
Nine years later the heavy and sticky snow on December 8th 1990, as the Author remembers in Burton-on-Trent Staffs, was poorly forecast when 16-to 20 inches fell, with widespread chaos on motorways.
Snow tends to be more slushy in the milder pre-Christmas months, and it is in the new-year that we get the ferocious snow and low temperatures of 1947 and 1963.
(1) June 2nd 1975.
(2) F.L. Bland Observer at Copdock (Ipswich).
(3) Symon’s Monthly Meteorological Magazine.
Ref: metoffice.gov.uk/records/december 20th.