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News / City Life

Sun, snow and a weird sepia sky: London’s year in weather

Kensington Gardens in the snow
Flicker/dm-set

If there’s one thing Londoners can agree on, it’s that we’re never satisfied with the weather. It’s either too cold, too grey or too hot (okay, that’s a rare one). From thundersnow to, er, regular snow, let’s look back at London’s year in weather.

We might not have had a white Christmas, but there were rumours of snow in January. There hadn’t been proper snow in London for three winters, but TfL announced it was bracing itself for snowy weather, stockpiling 100,000 tonnes of salt – enough to last for 139 days of ice, which seemed slightly excessive, tbh.

So, London was prepped and ready for the white stuff. But rather than the gentle flurry we were hoping for, weather reports suggested we were getting ‘thundersnow’ – the snowy version of a thunderstorm.

Thankfully it was all a bit of a fuss over nothing, as snow finally arrived in mid-January with a flurry that lasted around 30 minutes. Still, everyone got VERY excited. Including us.

  

 

While January was all about colder climes, things started hotting up in February as the Met Office is predicted that temperatures in south England could reach as high as 17 degrees. As always, this was an ideal opportunity for a spot of city rivalry, as it meant London would be hotter than Madrid (admittedly only by one degree, but still). The reason for the increase in temperature? A load of hot air. No, seriously – it was wafting its way over the Atlantic Ocean from Florida and the Caribbean.

No sooner were we feeling smug about the unusually warm weather when a storm started brewing in London. Storm Doris might have been named after a kind, old granny with a penchant for Werther’s Originals, but it packed an impressive punch. Trains and flights were cancelled and the London Fire Brigade said they’d dealt with 20 Doris-related incidents between 8am and 11am, including a trampoline which had blown onto a roundabout. Ouch.

Fast forward to April and things started hotting up again as temperatures reached a balmy 23 degrees – a whole 11 degrees higher than the average temperature for that time of year. Oh, and the unseasonably warm weather meant London was hotter than Rome, Barcelona and Athens, which meant we could brag about the weather some more.

But that was nothing in comparison to the steamy temperatures London reached in July, with sweaty highs of 34.5C. As often happens when things get hot in London, the Central line essentially became an inferno, with passengers withstanding temperatures of up to 42.3C. In case you need a reminder of this fairly useless fact that gets wheeled out every time it’s really warm: the legal heat limit for transporting cattle is 30C. So yeah, it was too darn hot.

Thankfully, things cooled off a bit over the following months, but it all got a bit weird in October when London’s sky got a real-life Instagram filter. The skies went from the usual grey hues to a cool sepia tone, a side effect from Hurricane Ophelia dragging dust and sand in from the Sahara. Some people worried it was the beginning of the apocalypse, but thankfully order was restored the next day.

We ended the year as we started: with snow. A brief flurry in November before a proper snowstorm in December – enough of the white stuff for snowball fights, snowmen and whizzing down the nearest hill on a toboggan/surfboard/piece of cardboard. Lovely stuff.

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