Top 5 worst winters in the UK

Top 5 worst winters in the UK
13 September 2022 16948 view(s) 4 min read
Top 5 worst winters in the UK

I’m sure you have seen plenty of ‘winter is coming’ captions from companies but, winter is coming, and it can throw up all sorts of weather conditions and issues for the UK.

Last winter, the UK recorded its lowest temperature in two decades, combined with snowfall in some areas, which caused havoc for residents. This wasn’t enough to break into the top 5 worst winter conditions faced by the UK.

What makes a bad winter in the UK?

In the UK we have accepted that throughout a year we may face a wide variety of weather conditions, this is especially true in winter periods. High winds, snow, rain, hail and even some rare sunshine.

Winter can be unpredictable but to be classified as a bad winter there usually must be some form of disruption caused to our daily lives. Heavy snowfall or icy conditions are the most likely to bring the country to a grinding halt with transport issues, road closures and closures of schools or businesses.

The winters we are about to discuss certainly caused havoc across the UK and stand as examples of how bad it can get during winter cold spells.


Winter of 1946/47

With the country recovering from the impact of the Second World War, the UK was struck down by one of the worst winters on record. The cold snap was felt across Europe, but the UK suffered the worst, and the country came to a standstill.

Between January 1947 and March 1947, snow fell somewhere in the UK for 55 straight days. The snow was the main issue, but temperatures hit -21C across the UK.

Once the snow started to melt, the water poured into rivers. Many of these burst their banks and flooded nearby areas.


The coldest winter in 200 years – 1962/63

Believed to be the coldest winter since 1740, the ‘Big Freeze of 1963’ is considered the worst in modern British history.

Despite not breaking any records for the actual temperatures, the persistency of the sub-zero temperatures was harsh on the UK. To show how cold it was during this time, the River Thames froze over.


The Big Snow of 1982

A mixture of snow blizzards and low temperatures made this winter spell record-breaking. At the time, the winter was the coldest in the UK for 100 years, with a mean daily temperature of 0.3C.

This time also saw the coldest registered temperature in UK modern history recorded in Braemar. A rather frightening -27.2C was recorded.

Along with the freezing temperatures, there was an influx of snow. Snow fell on and off from December through to March, and some areas saw snow of up to 23ft.


The Big Freeze of 2010

A more recent example of harsh winter conditions in the UK.

December 2009 and January 2010 saw snowfall and low temperatures in a two-month spell that caused transport disruption, school closures and power failures across the UK.


Winter 2010/11

The 1982 record for coldest winter was wiped away by the temperatures recorded in December 2010. An average temperature of -1C was recorded that froze much of the UK.

Snow did fall during this time, but it fell unexpectedly in late November, which isn’t seen often in the UK. As with the previous winter, the cold weather led to transport issues and school closures. Due to the snow starting in November and the cold weather across December, it’s estimated that the UK economy lost out on £1.2 billion in the run-up to Christmas.


Warm Winters

As climate change alters seasons across the world, it isn’t a surprise that five out of the top 10 warmest winters in the UK came between 2010-2019.

The warmest winter came during December 2019 to February 2020. Despite a rather wet few months with floods across the UK, the mean temperature for this period came in at 5.28C which is mild for that time of year.

Experts predict we may begin to see a shift to wetter but warmer winters in upcoming years because of climate change. As we approach winter, all eyes will begin to turn to weather reports. Make sure you beat the weather this year by stocking up on winter products from our wide range of items.

If you’d like to find out more about the winter products we have available, please contact our sales team on 01777 802213 or email

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