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Page last updated at 15:26 GMT, Monday, 20 December 2010
Recording 70 years of winters in Snowdonia

Castell y Gwynt in the Glyderau
Les says the first snow has generally been arriving later

A man who has been monitoring Gwynedd's weather since 1942 thinks we may be facing a clutch of bad winters.

Les Larsen of Penisarwaun, near Caernarfon, is not a professional meteorologist, but has kept daily weather records for his own interest.

"The 1940s were very cold, with lots of snow," said Les, fresh from digging through 7.5 inches of snow on his doorstep this week.

"There are patterns of cold winters and milder ones. This year and last have both been colder than previously, so perhaps a pattern is emerging again.

"There was still a snow drift on the Carneddau in June this year. It lasts much longer on the mountains."

Some may remember the famously cold winter of 1963. But despite being one of the coldest winters on Les's books, he didn't record much snow because the weather came in from the north east.

"This week the weather is coming in from the north, so we're getting a lot of snow," he explained.

"It comes down the sea with nothing to stop it, so even places like Anglesey and Llandudno get the snow.

"Llandudno doesn't usually get so much because it's surrounded by the sea, and sheltered by the Eryri [Snowdonia] mountains."

However, one sign that we haven't quite plummeted to the depths of some cold winters is Padarn Lake, Llanberis.

"One sign of a very cold winter is if Llyn Padarn freezes," he said. "Ogwen lake freezes a lot sooner, but Padarn is 100ft deep so it takes more time.

Snowdon at sunrise
Snowdon gets 200ins of rain a year, while Llandudno gets 24

"And it hasn't completely frozen over yet this year."

Les has been fascinated by the weather since his grammar school days and puts this down to the variety of conditions he can spot from his own kitchen window.

"Gwynedd is an ideal place to study it because it has such differences in the weather," he said. "For example, Caernarfon is only seven miles from Snowdon, but it's 12 degrees warmer.

"I look out of my window in the morning at the circle of mountains; Snowdon, Crib Goch, Elidir and Crib y Ddysgyl.

"Sometimes they're covered in cloud, sometimes the sun and in winter when the sun goes down the snow can glow almost pink.

"If I lived somewhere like Chile, everyday would be the same; blue skies and a sandy landscape. I'm so fortunate I live near Snowdon."

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