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Wootton

Severe Weather On The Island 1940

During the second and third weeks of January islanders had to withstand the severest spell of wintry weather that had been experienced for at least 45 years. There were many nights when the temperature dropped to between 10 and 15 degrees of frost and on one night it dropped to 26 degrees, this being the lowest since records began.

Due to wartime restriction it has not been possible to report this meteorological information in the paper until 15 days after the event, to avoid giving information to the enemy.

The Artic conditions started on the 16th December and have persisted since then with one or two short break. The only comparable winter in living memory was that of 1895 when there was a month of frost during January and February caused a lot of distress through unemployment, the lowest temperature being recorded was 21 degrees of frost.

In January 1939, 22.5 degrees of frost were recorded and it was possible to walk across the River Medina at Hurst Stake. In January 1929, 25 degrees of ground frost was recorded in Newport.

On the 11th January [1940] after three days intense cold with a bitter Easterly wind skating was enjoyed all over the Island for about a week. One of the most popular venues was the Mill Pond at Lakeside, Wootton where it was possible to skate from the bridge almost two and a half miles to near Havenstreet. The boating lake at Ryde was another popular venue and an amusing sight was to see women pushing prams on the ice.

On the 17th & 18th the River Medina was completely frozen over from the Quay to the cement works, however due to the rising tide and the passing boats it was not possible to walk on the ice. One of the Southampton & Isle of Wight Steam Packets was frozen at her berth in Southampton. In Bembridge swans were frozen into the ice, which had to be broken up with axes to free them. Wootton and Fishbourne Creeks looked like streams in the Artic regions with ice covered banks and ice floes.

Plumbers were working night and day repairing burst pipes whenever there was a rise in temperature and there was also a loss of water supplies due to the main supply pipes freezing.

Though the weather was bad on the Island the mainland suffered worse with heavy snowfalls and the Thames was frozen for an eight-mile stretch. As today different parts of the Island can have different extremes of weather, on the night of the 20th January the temperature in Newport was 11 degrees but in Ryde it was shown 20 degrees, a difference of 9 degrees.

Sources:
Isle of Wight County Press, Mid January 1940
Isle of Wight County Press, 3rd February 1940

This page was last edited on: 4th March, 2015 06:17:16

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