Brrr...but will our rivers freeze over?
AFTER ALL, IT’S HAPPENED QUITE RECENTLY
The frozen Tyne at Haydon Bridge in January 1982 Reporter IT’S cold, and it’s getting colder, but will it ever get cold enough for the Tyne to freeze over?
The answer is yes - it’s happened before and it could happen again.
The Met Office says the upper reaches of the Tyne are most likely to freeze while the mouth of the river is least likely.
A spokeswoman for the Met Office said: “The Tyne is a large moving body of water. Whether it will freeze is subject to a lot of ifs and buts and caveats.” But how cold does it have to be? Weather expert Ken Cook, who looks after the Met Office’s weather station at Copley, near Bishop Auckland, County Durham, says a week of sustained subzero temperatures would be enough.
He remembers the winter of 1963 when parts of the Tyne froze, trapping ships in Newcastle.
As the ice melted and broke off, ice floes could be seen at South and North Shields.
Ken said: “For North East rivers to begin freezing, a long period of cold weather is required, usually over a week of sub zero temperatures.
“The normal temperature of our rivers is pretty close to the average air temperature which ranges from close to 0C at the source in the high Pennines to 5C at the river mouths.
“Where the three main rivers begin at Cross Fell is close to 3,000ft above sea level and the temperature there is below freezing more often than not during winter and ice is quite common. Our rivers are the coldest in England.”
He said a long cold spell with plenty of snow in the higher Pennines that will melt slowly will soon cool the water to a degree or so of freezing.
A low river level also helps as there is not the volume of water to cool down.
“A blocking pattern of weather is needed to bring a long cold spell and the block should preferably be a cold anticyclone either across Scandinavia producing easterly winds or one across Greenland with northerlies,” he said.
“The last time this happened was in 2010 when the rivers froze over as far down as the North Sea coast.
“In recent times the really cold winters of 1947, 1963 and 1979 saw copious ice but there have been many others.
“It is not necessarily the extreme low temperatures that cause the freezing but the continual below freezing temperatures by day as well as night, although a week of -10C nights would probably do it.”
Met Office records say the record for the coldest place in the North East goes to Haydon Bridge, near Hexham in Northumberland.
It was January 1881 and temperatures around the whole region plummeted.
But nowhere as much as Haydon Bridge where it reached a chilly -23.3 degrees celsius. But as chilly times go it wasn’t alone. Going further back to 1814, the Tyne froze solid and people held a frost fair on the ice.
Records say: “On January 15, 1814, the river Tyne at Newcastle was completely frozen over. For several days, the ice was covered with crowds of people, and the scenes exhibited resembled a country fair or raceground. Booths were erected for the sale of liquors, and fires were kindled. Fruit and cake sellers, fiddlers, pipers, razor-grinders, recruiting parties, etc were perambulating in all directions. A horse and sledge, and a horse and gig, were brought upon the ice.”
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