Gallery: This time last year transport systems ground to a halt after several inches of snowfall - yet this January we are seeing snowdrops blooming early
18:05 20 January 2014
What a difference a year makes.
Images of families enjoying snow-covered parks and sub-zero temperatures causing transport systems to grind to a miserable halt are now a distant memory after one of the mildest winters on record.
This time last year Suffolk was mired in a week-long Arctic blast. In fact, from the night of January 14 to the afternoon of January 22, the mercury never once rose above freezing in the county.
In contrast, this year we have enjoyed January temperatures as high as 12C (54F) –while last month was the 12th warmest December in the last 114 years in East Anglia.
And in some places snowdrops rather than snow have been the order of the day.
The vagaries of weather fronts and areas of low and high pressure can account for the seasonal disparity.
Chris Bell, forecaster for East Anglia-based Weatherquest, explained: “Throughout that time period last year an area of high pressure over Scandinavia was coming from the east, which is where the cold air at this time of year comes from.
“Contrast that to this year where we have an area of low pressure from the Atlantic – from the north west of Scotland and Ireland – and it has been remarkably mild.
“We have had some very cold winters in the last three or four years but people are saying they are being reminded of the late 1990s and early 2000s when there was not too much snow around.”
When asked if he thought the region would see any snow at all this winter, he said it would be “foolish” for any weather forecaster to confirm either way at the midway point.
However he did suggest temperatures were likely to drop towards the end of this month, while he pointed out that the above-average temperatures currently being experienced may not be an indicator of a winter devoid of snowflakes.
“Last year before the cold weather arrived in January we had temperatures of around 9C (48F) and 10C (50F) which is very similar to this year,” Mr Bell added.
“Just because it is like this now it does not mean it is going to stay mild through to March.” A further examination of last year’s winter charts reveals that overnight on January 16/17 conditions plunged to a winter’s low of -11C (12F).
The same night this year was 6C (43F).
The average minimum temperature for January is 0C (32F). So far in 2014 it has been 4.6C (40.2F). Last year it was 0.1C (32.1F).