Will 2019 be the UK’s coldest winter on record?

UK shivers through coldest night of the year

Snow, winter
Parts of UK had 67 consecutive days of snow of 1962-63 - but that wasn’t the coldest
(Image credit: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Parts of the UK have endured their coldest night of the year, with temperatures dropping nearly as low as -10C in some parts of the country.

Rural Scotland has been hit by the coldest weather, with a brisk -9.9C recorded in Braemar, Aberdeenshire.

The chill follows a Sunday night drop that saw temperatures plummet to -8.6C in Tulloch Bridge and Dalwhinnie, the lowest of the autumn so far.

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And it was a nippy affair in Northern Ireland, where temperatures in County Down dropped to -5.1C.

The cold snap has prompted Public Health England (PHE) to issue a cold weather warning until 12pm on Wednesday, and encourage people to look out for anybody who might be vulnerable.

Dr Emer O'Connell of PHE said: “Older people and those with heart and lung problems are at risk of getting sick in cold weather.”

The Met Office issued a yellow weather warning for dense and freezing fog this morning, which the North West Motorway Police Group said had led to a few accidents.

“The gritters have worked tirelessly all night, but it's still icy out there,” they told Sky News.

What was the coldest winter on record?

Identifying which winter holds the distinction of “coldest on record” depends on the data and criteria used.

By monthly mean temperatures, December 2010 holds the record for the coldest December since Met Office records began in 1910, at -0.7°C.

But according to the Central England Temperature (CET), a record of monthly mean temperatures dating back to 1659, December 1890 was marginally colder, with a mean of -0.8°C.

If judged by the mean temperature for an entire winter (December, January and February), the coldest-ever season title belongs to the winter of 1962-63, when a freak cold snap brought much of the country snow for 67 consecutive days up until early March. Temperatures fell as low as -19.4°C in parts of northern Scotland.

However, there are two winters that reportedly break even that record, according to CET measurements: 1683-84, followed by the marginally less chilly 1739-40.

The coldest single temperature ever recorded in the UK is claimed, unsurprisingly, by Scotland. In 1895 and 1982, Braemar in Aberdeenshire hit an overnight low of -27.2°C, a temperature matched in 1995 by Altnaharra in the Highlands.

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