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Wiltshire wild weather: the long winter of 1982
By Allan Colman
Teacher of Mathematics at Wilmington Grammar School for Girls and Fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society

Heavy snow in Kington Langley in 1982
Strong winds whipped the snow into deep drifts - Kington Langley, 1982

This is the most extreme weather event I have ever experienced.

I was living in the small village of Etchilhampton in the vale of Pewsey, Wiltshire at the time.

The first few days of January 1982 were mild and wet. Then on the 6th the wind changed to a north-easterly and the overnight temperature fell to -4° C.

On the following day the wind got up and cloud increased throughout the day, the temperature failed to exceed
-1° C and overnight despite the complete cloud cover it fell to -5° C.

The wind freshened further and veered easterly and throughout the 8th and 9th a blizzard raged across the countryside.

The snow was so fine that it made its way through a loose fitting window frame and piled up on the inside window sill!

Six foot drifts

The electricity supply failed, and all cooking had to be done on an open fire, in the only warm room.

The temperature didn't rise above -3° C over the two days and fell to -6° C overnight on the 8th.

Allan Colman
Winter 1982 - the most extreme weather experience for Allan Colman

The strong wind whipped the snow into deep drifts filling the narrow country roads to a depth of about 6 feet while level snow accumulated to over 6 inches.

On the 10th the snow finally petered out in the afternoon, the temperature failed to exceed -5° C all day and in the clear night to follow it fell to a low of -11° C.

The wind fell lighter and the weather stayed crisp and sunny for the next couple of days, but no thaw took place as temperatures peaked at -3° C on the 12th from a minimum of -10° C.

Many roads remained impassable and the only way to leave the village to get supplies was on foot, as helicopters occasionally circled overhead.

Mercury drops to -20° C

The 13th became calm and a thick freezing fog shrouded the snowy landscape with a heavy rime deposit and temperatures starting at a breathtakingly low -14° C failed to rise above -5° C.

With clear conditions returning overnight the mercury dropped to the lowest I have ever recorded, touching -20° C!

This was lower than the record breaking -19° C recorded just a month earlier in similar circumstances.

The 14th was a dazzlingly brilliant blue/white calm sunny day, and the temperature struggled to reach a high of just -8° C, before plunging back to a twig shattering -15° C in the early evening.

By dawn however the wind had changed to a southerly and a slow thaw heralded a premature end to a memorable winter. A spell of eight consecutive ice days in this part of the country has not been exceeded since.

Coldest dayColdest Day -19.5Lacock on 14th January 1982

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