The Great Global Weirding of 1876/7

Paul Homewood has an interesting post on the wet and windy spell of winter 1876/77,  part of a series highlighting previous precedented periods of ‘unusual’ rainfall and storminess . Whilst reading the British Rainfall Publication for 1877 that he highlighted, I was struck by the similarity in the storm patterns, from the relentless succession of storms, gales and heavy rainfall to the short lulls between. This Times report from December 3 1876 notes how at one point during one storm “the mercury has fallen below 29 inches [982 mb] in all of the Kingdom”

Times_4Dec1876

A familiar look.  Chart courtesy wetter.de

The all too familiar look of lows piling off the coast of Canada.
Chart courtesy wetter.de

So I wondered what the temperatures were like.

1876_2013CET

Temperature wise, 2013/4 was far less extreme with far less variability. From mid November until the beginning of March the mean values varied by only ~7 degrees Celsius compared to ~12 degrees for 1876/7.

It was whilst I was looking at  the rainfall values I noted how remarkably close the two patterns were. Using the hydrological cycle (which runs from October) I added the values until the end of February, the last date for values this year.

1876/7 – 601.1

2013/4 – 691.9

So similar but this past winter is a fair bit higher with 90.8 mm more. This is how the values compare monthly

ewp_1876_2013

What is striking is the winter values almost seem to match, something I noticed more as I played with different visual charts excel has to offer. The two periods had near identical shapes but 1876 seemed to lag a month behind. The following is the two values, with the 1876 starting one month earlier as annotated in the chart below.

1876_2013

Julia Slingo February 2014 “The “clustering and persistence” of storms that have hit the UK was extremely unusual, she added. “We have seen exceptional weather. It is consistent with what we might expect from climate change.”

Over the ten month periods rainfall this year was greater by just 25.7mm (985.3-959.6mm) . Comparing the last four winter months of Oct-Jan 1876/7 and Nov-Feb 2013/14 the difference is just 16.4mm more for this year (539.9-523.5). 16.4mm is what often falls from the sky when a single low or front passes over. 

To me this is suggestive of an unusually stuck, or blocked, jetstream pattern happening 137 years ago, long before carbon dioxide levels were a concern – indeed it was a couple of decades before Arrhenius started the carbon cycle of excuses. Our winter was unusual but it was not unprecedented. A quick search pulled up an interesting observation made in the Bighorn Mountains in Wyoming for the 6th January 1877

Unusual heat followed by snow. In the evening there was snow and hail driven by a cruel wind.

http://images.library.wisc.edu/History/EFacs/SetPerAmerInd/Victor/reference/history.victor.i0061.pdf

Back on the other side of the Atlantic, in Longthorns (Dorset?) a “severe thunderstorm” was reported “lasting 1 1/2 hours, with large hail.” From the early hours of the 7th an unstable system passed over the British isles hitting the West coast in the early hours before reaching Norfolk later that evening.

f f

Hopefully I’ll be able to find further observations from both sides of the Atlantic.

Data: 

EWP: http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/hadobs/hadukp/data/monthly/HadEWP_monthly_qc.txt

CET: http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/hadobs/hadcet/data/download.html

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6 thoughts on “The Great Global Weirding of 1876/7

  1. 187x was the time of the huge temperature spike (as 1998) which has been sandpapered away and why certain parties start their record at 1880.

    There were indeed wet times back then, have some photos too in local history books. Copyright.

    I may have explained why the train of storms, no-one has disputed it, where you would need to look at more of the Atlantic. In this case blocking over North America led to warm water pool Gulf of Mexico etc. forming storms as it does which were circulated across to sweep up into the UK. Normally activity over NA. would break this up.

    Next weekend is fun, cold air penetrating almost down the Africa, expect snow flurries in England.

    • Tim, apologies for the tardy reply-never sure on wordpress interface where a reply is to one of my posts or following a comment/reblog. I’ll get the hang of it someday!

      187x was the time of the huge temperature spike (as 1998) which has been sandpapered away and why certain parties start their record at 1880.

      I’m looking up global newspaper reports from 1876/7 as analogous to 2013/14 having looked at ~1880s for various reasons. Fairly good records and observations. Could well be worth a crowd sourced post at the Talkshop (or DE) to reconstruct? 1880 an obvious low point to start like 1979 Arctic ice. All arbitrary.

      There were indeed wet times back then, have some photos too in local history books. Copyright.

      Again this comes to crowd sourcing. Lots of free nuggets waiting in public records online & in libraries/museums. Paul Homewood highlights many sober MetO reports.

      I may have explained why the train of storms, no-one has disputed it, where you would need to look at more of the Atlantic. In this case blocking over North America led to warm water pool Gulf of Mexico etc. forming storms as it does which were circulated across to sweep up into the UK. Normally activity over NA. would break this up.

      Yes did read your comments but will go back to them. Ren’s observations also throwing an interesting aspect.

      From a personal pov the reconstructions are just to get my head around the cells ‘reforming’ with the change in magnetic resonance. Gail C made interesting comm referencing Steven Goddard on shape of polar vortex vs. laurentide sheet.
      Cymatics-inadvertently referenced on latest Sky at Night looking at the music of the spheres. Not that the notes were connected.

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03y31f0

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