Community engagement is a key part of this project, so this is where we kindly ask you to contribute your memories of extreme weather through words or photos.
Do you, your friends or family remember a particularly harsh or mild winter? A warm, wet or dry summer? A disappointing or plentiful harvest? Unforgettable thunder and lightning? A flood, drought, storm or hurricane?
When did it occur and how long did it last? Why was it particularly good or bad for you, your family or your community? What did you do during this period to cope with or enjoy the weather?
Please share your memories and pictures here using our comments form .
- January 24, 2013 - cerysjones
Snow has caused some disruption to The Snows of Yesteryear project in the last few days, as heavy snowfall and strong winds resulted in drifts and poor driving conditions. One of the areas affected was Talgarreg, Llandysul. Though forecasts have mostly been correct, sudden snowfall in the Talgarreg area on Monday 14th January and Thursday 17th caught many by surprise. However, the greatest fall of snow occurred on Friday 18th, which was accompanied by strong winds. The snow clung to windows, resulting in poor visibility and an intense sense of isolation. At Clettwr, snow was blown into lambing sheds; under doors and through holes in walls. By the time night fell, the farm lane which ascends the Clettwr valley was blocked by deep drifts, making it unconquerable even to a 4×4 vehicle (see photo below for a drift on the side of the farm lane). Nearby B-roads, such as the Synod Inn to Llanybydder road and the Synod Inn to Ffostrasol road, were also closed, until they were re-opened by snow-ploughs the following day.
On Thursday 24th January, as this blog entry is being written, the A- and B-roads are open and clear, though the smaller C-road and farm lane down to Clettwr still require great care. The car is left at the end of the farm lane; though it may be possible to drive it down the hill, it may not be able to come back up! This requires a twice-daily walk to and from the car in sturdy walking boots and warm clothes. Though this may seem an inconvenience, recollections of the conditions at Clettwr during the 1962/63 winter put it in perspective (read ‘Expert number 2’ here). Note that Clettwr no longer has any dairy cows so, luckily, milk wastage is no longer a problem.
Yesterday (Wednesday 23rd January), southwest Wales was greatly affected by heavy snowfall which, luckily, wasn’t too bad at Talgarreg, though Dyffryn Teifi School (Llandysul) was closed and remains closed today (24/1/2013). The area wasn’t forewarned of snow and, as TV and radio weather presenters reminded us throughout yesterday, “snow is a very difficult thing to predict”.
- October 29, 2012 - cerysjones
Kindly received by letter:
Cofiaf aeaf 1947 yn dda iawn pan oeddwn yn byw ym Mryneglwys, ger Corwen ac yn methu â mynd i’r ysgol uwchradd yn Rhuthun am 8 wythnos oherwydd trwch yr eira.
Yn y dyddiau hynny, roedd Bryneglwys a Bwlchgwyn wastad yn cael sylw yn y newyddion am fod yn ddau le cyntaf i gael eu hynysu gan eira a rhew, ac felly y bu ym 1940 a 1947. Roedd fy nhad wedi bod i rywle yn ei gar bach Austin 7 yn ystod diwrnod cyntaf yr eira mawr, a method a’i yrru nôl i fyny’r allt i’n tŷ ni ac felly bu raid iddo ei adael yng ngwaelod y ffordd, ac yn y fan honno y bu am y ddau fis y parhaodd yr heth. Cofiaf i ni, blant, unwaith yr oedd y lluwchfeydd wedi rhewi’n gorn, gael caniatad ‘nhad i gerdded i waelod y ffordd (tua chwarter milltir) a sylweddoli ein bod yn cerdded uwchben y car bach ac ar ben y gwrychoedd heb unrhyw beryg y byddem yn suddo gan mor galed oedd y rhew. Roedd yr un peth yn wir am y llyn hwyaid wrth y tŷ lle cawsom lawer o hwyl yn sglefrio.
Ond ‘doedd yr holl brofiad yn fawr o hwyl i mam, druan, a oedd yn gorfod coginio ar dân agored yn yr ystafell fwyta yn lle’r popty arferol yn y gegin am fod y pibellau dŵr cysylltiedig wedi rhewi, a ‘nhad yn gorfod cario dŵr o’r nant gyfagos, nid yn unig i’n teulu ni o chwech ond hefyd i’r gwartheg a’r moch ar y fferm. Cofiaf ein bod wedi methu â gwneud menyn yn y fuddai fawr oherwydd y rhewi cyson, ac ar waethaf ymdrechion pob un ohonom i droi’r fuddai am oriau.
Bu ‘nhad, ynghŷd â sawl dyn arall o’r pentref, yn cerdded i Gorwen, saith milltir i ffwrdd, sawl gwaith i brynu bara i bawb oedd ei angen; bu’r eira mawr yn fodd i gymuned gyfan glosio at ei gilydd a gwerthfawrogi ymdrech a chymwynasgarwch y dynion.
- October 8, 2012 - cerysjones
Kindly received by e-mail:
The extreme weather I remember was in, I think, 1962. I was living in Pembrokeshire, on the coast where we rarely had snow that stuck. But this particular Winter I woke to find everything covered in depths of snow. Our house was situated on a back lane in the village and the snow was level with the hedgerows. It has been funnelled in with the wind. I remember walking or rather scrambling to the Post office sinking up to my shoulders in snow. It was magical…No school for a week and our lane wasn’t passable for vehicles for quite a few weeks after that.
- September 14, 2012 - cerysjones
In addition to direct contributors to this blog, The Snows of Yesteryear project gains inspiration and information from other websites which may be of interest to weather enthusiasts:
Llen Natur’s Tywyddiadur, where you can search for accounts of the weather according to date.
From Warfare to Welfare’s The Valley, which is a digital story by Bryn Hughes, a Ceredigion farmer, and includes an account of the snow during 1947.
The National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales’ colour footage of “The Great Blizzard of 1947”, showing shots of a tractor/snow plough and volunteers in action at Llanwddyn, which was snowed up for 9 weeks, and shots of the streets of Newtown. Filmed by Geoff Charles.
People’s Collection Wales’ photos of snow (‘eira’), including the winters of 1962/63 and 1981/82.
British Pathe’s film of Storm Damage at Aberystwyth in 1938.
From outside Wales, the following are found to be particularly interesting:
The Weather Memory bank, which has video clips of people in Reading answering set questions on the weather.
Flood Memories blog for the River Severn, mainly concerned with the Tewkesbury floods of 2007.
The British Hydrological Society’s Chronology of British Hydrological Events. Search the database according to date and/or river catchment in the UK.
If any of these pictures, videos or written accounts strike a chord, why not share your memories of similar extreme weather right here using our comments form.
- September 10, 2012 - guest
Car llusg pren yn anrheg Nadolig, ac eira y diwrnod wedyn. Ryw 4 milltir i’r gogledd o Gaerfyrddin, lle roedd yr heolydd cul rhwng banciau uchel a wedyn perthi ar ben y banciau. Wrth i’r eira lluwchio fe lanwyd yr heolydd bron i ben y perthi. Roedd y car llusg yn mynd yn bert i lawr tyle serth, a dim perygl o gar neu dractor yn dod i gwrdd â ti.
Sawl wythnos wedyn, pan oedd yr heol fawr wedi’i chlirio, fe gerddais i (9 oed) gyda mam a’r car llusg i fewn i’r dre i brynu bwyd. Erbyn hyn roedd y rhewgell yn wag. Cerdded i lawr yn iawn, ond tynnu’r peth yn ôl, gyda’r holl bwysau newydd, a tuag at lan bob cam, yn araf iawn.
- August 31, 2012 - cerysjones
The mobile phone rang, flashing “Unknown number”. Could be a salesman, could be a person asking whether I had been mis-sold PPI, but no – it was a researcher from Radio Cymru. The very friendly voice asked me whether I could talk on Nia’s program about the weather of 1962. I instantly agreed; I’ve learnt not to decline any offers from the media.
But, what did I know about the weather of 1962 when Mum had only been born a year earlier?! They wanted a Welsh perspective and the internet was surprisingly unhelpful. I only had Jenny Ogwen’s recollection to go on. It was now my time to make some phone-calls… to ask the experts.
Expert number 1: Grandad. Age in 1962: 26
He remembered that it started snowing in December 1962 and the snow stayed until mid-March 1963. Living in Llanybydder (Carmarthenshire) at the time, which is a fairly large village, he remembered that it was very difficult to travel; buses and cars were “on stop”. He also worked in the forestry, and he remembered it being so cold that he had to wear two coats at all times. This came as a bit of a shock after the warm summer of 1962! The following year, he left the forestry and went to work at a timber merchants. No doubt, the winter of 1962/63 was a part of his decision to change his occupation.
Expert number 2: Father-in-law. Age in 1962: 28
My father-in-law is a farmer; born and bred in Talgarreg (Ceredigion) down in the valley of the river Clettwr. The winter of 1962/63 is the worst he can remember. It lasted from Boxing day 1962 until the beginning of March. Snow would fall and instantly form drifts as it fell. There was also frost every day and a chilling wind from the East. As a result, their water supply froze. It was so cold that the pipe which took water underground to the cowsheds had frozen. This was a serious problem for a farmer as they had no water to give to the dairy cows.
They were also stranded as the farm road was impassable; another serious problem for a dairy farmer as they weren’t able to take milk up to the milk stand for the tanker to make its daily collection. This meant no income and – worst of all for a ‘Cardi’ (renowned for being careful with every penny) – wasted milk. As they couldn’t ascend the Clettwr valley by road, their only option was to go across it. They put the full milk churns in a box on the back of the tractor and traveled across the valley floor; across the fields towards the village of Talgarreg. There, they met the milk tanker who collected their churns. In return, the farmer would get empty churns, ready for tomorrow’s milk. But first, they had an other job; they filled the churns to the brim with water from the village and returned to the farm to give water to the livestock. They did this every day for around ten weeks until, finally, on the 10th of March 1963, they were able to take the churns up the farm road to the milk stand once again, the last time having been on Boxing day 1962.
It was a very long, cold winter. And they had no ‘cab’ on the tractor to protect them from the elements. But he remembers that, somehow, the coldest day was the day it started to thaw and it started to rain.
The experts had spoken, and I tried to do as much justice as possible to their recollections during the radio interview (which was broadcast on BBC Radio Cymru on August Bank Holiday (27th), 2012).
Cerys, Research Assitant, The Snows of Yesteryear Project.
- August 31, 2012 - cerysjones
During the project’s time at the National Eisteddfod in Llandw recently, we spoke to Jenny Ogwen, a familiar face in Wales as she used to present the weather forecasts on S4C (the Welsh-language public-service television channel). She was there to promote her autobiography entitled ‘Glaw a Hindda’ (‘Rain and Shine’). When asked what periods of extreme weather she remembers during her career, her answers were:
“1963 – Eira Mowr – Llundain a dros Brydain.
1976 – Haf tanboeth – drought ym mhobman.”
She remembers the Great Snow of 1963 in London and over Britain (she was working in London at the time), and the scorching summer of 1976 as there was drought everywhere.
What do you remember of these periods?
- August 7, 2012 - guest
Contributor at the Eisteddfod:
I remember watching the water levels coming across Sophia Gardens – it was like a black mass slowly coming across the fields. The water came up Cathedral Road. We were protected by the houses of Plasturton Avenue and our house wasn’t flooded. But the water came to the front garden; it was literally lapping over the front step. Me and my friends were waist deep walking down Cathedral Road helping people get stuff out of their houses. I was 15 years old.
I remember the sludge and the smell after the water levels dropped. And everyone was so upset – especially the ground floor flats in Cathedral Road. A man was trying to get his guitar to safety – I think it was ruined.
From a kid’s point of view, we had fantastic fun. But the adults were horrified and anxious.
- August 6, 2012 - cerysjones
From two ladies from the Llanelli area at the National Eisteddfod during a heavy shower of rain (summarised, originally said in Welsh):
When they were children during the 1950s, summers felt as if they lasted forever. We don’t have summers like they used to be. 1976 was the last proper summer we had; everything was dry. There’s a village, near Rhandirmwyn, that was drowned for the reservoir. But in 1976 the lakes were all dry and you were able to see the old village.
- August 1, 2012 - cerysjones
Kindly received by comment:
My mother in law died at 00.20 on the morning of December 17th 2010 in Tycroes, Carmarthenshire. The doctor couldn’t get to the bungalow to certify her death for several hours, neither could the District Nurses. The undertaker couldn’t get to us until 05.00, using a 4 wheel drive vehicle. Her funeral was a week later on Christmas Eve and again, only 4 wheeled drives could get to us, so no service in the house, no limos, many friends and family struggled to get to the chapel. It was a strange, sad time. The snow added to the feeling of a surreal experience. The silence that night was eerie, almost deafening.