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<<<<1400 - 1499

(T: warm/cold events; R: dry/wet events; S: 'stormy' events)

 Date T R S  Description  Ref:
 1500 - 1599
 1502 (late winter, spring)  Possibly 'wet / cold': Prince Arthur, Prince of Wales at Ludlow (Welsh Marches) and contracted TB - died there allowing younger brother Henry (VIII) to succeed. (This area not normally exceptionally wet in a standard 'westerly' climate, so suggests, perhaps, some 'abnormal' synoptic pattern.)  var
 1503  Dry summer (London/South).  8
 January 1506 (OSP)  Severe frost. Thames frozen throughout January; horse and cart could cross the frozen river. The sea was also frozen at Marseilles. This implies that it must have been bitterly cold (and persistently so) since at least late December. It often needs some period of strong east wind as well to remove the heat from the water. [ Given the doubt about which calendar convention was in use, this could be 1507. ] (LWH)
Again, depends upon the year-dating in use: on / around 11th January, 1506 (which presumably would be 1507 in our dating convention, and roughly ten days later in the Gregorian calendar (i.e. around 21st), a major storm of wind affected at least the southern half of Britain and the southern North Sea - damage to St. Paul's Cathedral & buildings in London (and presumably elsewhere); Archduke Philip and his wife, Joanna, daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella, blown ashore onto the English coast near Weymouth (Melcombe Regis) en route for Castille, Henry VII entertained them for three months. By the treaty of Windsor, he recognized Philip as King of Castille, and the two rulers promised mutual defence and assistance against each other's rebels.
( )
 Similar to the event in 1477 (q.v.) and known as the 'Second Cosmas & Damianus flood); dated as 26th (OSP)  GOTT
 A cold winter in western Europe / implied parts of Britain. (Easton, in CHMW/Lamb)  1
 13th/14th (OSP) - storm/flood affected Dutch coastal communities - perhaps also the English coastline.  GOTT
( July)
 July 21 (OSP) - England: 'Hot Wednesday'. Several killed by heat.  LWH
 A severe winter in western Europe, including many parts of Britain. (Easton, in CHMW/Lamb). From (LWH) "Thames frozen" in January 1514: carts crossed from Lambeth to Westminster. This would imply extended period(s) of sub-zero temperatures, together with persistent, and perhaps strong east winds.
 1, 8,
 1516  Hot & dry (London/South). More generally, there was a drought with very little rain falling for 9 months .  8
 Major storm/flood affected Dutch coastal communities and perhaps the English coast. Date given as 27th (OSP), therefore "St. Steven's Flood".  GOTT
 A 'great frost' started on the 12th January (OSP). A severe winter (1516/1517) across England - Thames frozen.  LWH
 1517  A very hot summer (London/South)  8
 England - cold winter (began?). Frostbite. Deaths by cold.  LWH
 Noted as a 'very hot summer' in Dublin. ['Annals of Dublin' / ]  op.cit.
 1527/1528  Probably the 'wettest' pair of consecutive years since weather chronicles began. 1527 is regarded by some climatologists as being significantly wetter than 1258. In particular, in 1527, rain fell over 'England' (no specifics) every day from April 12th (C?) to June 3rd (C?)  8,
 1529  Thames in flood on 2nd October.  8
 1530-1560  The downturn in temperature during this period [ see notes elsewhere ], probably helped to encourage the use of glass in windows (for those that could afford such of course).  6
 14th/15th November (NS), 4th/5th November (OS) - Storm surge flooding of coasts and estuaries southern parts of the English North Sea coast, particularly Essex and Kent, also south Holland, after three days of high winds. Strong northerly wind implied given the areas affected - possibly aggravated by a secondary intense cyclonic centre developing in the southern North Sea (Lamb).  23,
 Storm/flood - affecting Dutch coastal communities on/around 2nd (OSP); noted as being 'worse than 1530' (q.v.); possible/probable impact on English coastline.  GOTT
 Frost lasting from November to February; Thames frozen below Gravesend (which presumably means it was also frozen up-river from this point; the river below Gravesend is at the head of the Thames estuary - so perhaps only ice along the shore-line, rather than being completely frozen all the way across?)  8
 December 1536 & January 1537  Severe frost. Thames frozen in London: King Henry VIII, with his queen (Jane Seymour .. who was to die late in the year [1537] after giving birth to the future Edward VI) rode on the ice-bound river from London (probably Whitehall) to Greenwich.  6, 8
 1537  A wet summer.  8
 1538-1541  1. These four years apparently experienced drought, with 1540 & 1541 particularly dry - in both these latter years, the Thames was so low that sea water extended above London Bridge, even at ebb tide in 1541. Three successive fine / warm summers from 1538-1540: the weather in 1540 was so fine that picking of cherries commenced before the end of May and grapes were ripe in July.
2. General warmth over Europe during the spring & summer of 1540. For England, there are several references to a hot summer, with great heat & drought; also many deaths due to the 'Ague'. In this year (1540), there was so little water flowing in the Seine through Paris that people were able to walk across. (The next warm summer of equal worth is possibly that of 2003!)
(also noted in usw via Holland .. " 1540 is described in contemporary chronicles as the 'Big Sun Year'; the lower part of the Rhine from Cologne into the Netherlands is 'dry' - it didn't rain over Italy, with Rome dry for something like 9 months. Forest/city fires, with many people dying of heat stroke, heart failure etc.")
3. 1541: as indicated above, another drought year with rivers drying up (must have been quite extreme given that the previous year was notably dry). Cattle / other livestock dying for lack of water: dysentery killed thousands.
 8, usw,
 A wet summer.  8
 A cold winter in western Europe / implied parts of Britain. (Easton, in CHMW/Lamb)  1
 June 25th (OSP) - England - hail - "fist-sized" stones, Lancashire.  LWH
 A cold winter in western Europe / implied parts of Britain. (Easton, in CHMW/Lamb)  1
 1547  Intense frost at the end of the year [December?] (London/South).  8
 Tidal flooding in the Thames, as far up-river as Millwall, in December. (This would imply some form of storm-surge event, though heavy rains inland might also have been a contributory factor.); Gottschalk also has this in her analysis of Dutch coastal floods, giving a date of 19th(OSP): one of three 'significant' storms/floods to affect the Low Countries this winter [see below] (and perhaps England?)  8,
 As part of a notably 'stormy' winter season (see also 1551/December above), two storms/floods were noted in the Dutch coastal communities in these months; the first on/around 13th January (OSP) & the second on/around 15th February (OSP).  GOTT
 1552  Drought (London/South).  8
 (or possibly 1552*) 15th & 18th-25th January (NS), 5th & 8th-15th January (OS): Periods of major cyclonic storms and associated sea flooding affecting much of the North Sea.
(* As this is a January event, then it is possible that the chronicles would have ascribed this to 1552, when in fact we would regard it as part of the new year of 1553 - see comments elsewhere.)
 Three autumn storms/floods affecting the Netherlands (and the storms perhaps affecting the English side of the North Sea.) The dates: 13th/14th September, 29th/30th September & 2nd/3rd November (all OSP).  GOTT
 1555  A wet year: Westminster flooded after great storm of wind and rain in October (or possibly September - some doubt about attribution and calendar usage here).  6, 8
 1556  The drought of this year was reputed to be responsible for a 6-fold increase in the quarterly price of wheat. Springs failed - implies a 'significant' event, particularly if the entry for 1555 above is correct!  8
 1558  Very hot summer (London/South).  8
 Sneiton, Nottinghamshire. A severe thunderstorm with large hail (described at the time as having a circumference of 38 cm*, which means a diameter of 12 cm / or around 4.5 inches!), destroyed houses & churches; the bells were thrown into the churchyard and some sheets of lead were carried over 100 metres. Trees uprooted. A child was lifted and carried about 30 metres then dropped: his arm was broken and he later died from his injuries. 5 or 6 (some accounts say 7) men were killed in the same area. On either the 17th or the 21st July, 1558 (7th July OS, so probably 17th NS).
[ * Hail sizes when reported in the historical record are always difficult to assess; it may not be diameter, or circumference that is being reported, but an aggregate of several stones, or even the depth on the ground. However, in this case, given the death toll, the damage and the obvious possibility of a tornado being present, the hail certainly had the potential to be of massive proportions. ]
 (JMet / TORRO,
 June 1561  St. Paul's steeple struck by lightning - causing fire-damage (see also 1444); this was long before the days of lightning conductors which were first suggested by Benjamin Franklin in 1752).  8
 On the 19th (possibly the 14th) January, 1563 (NSP), at Leicester, Leicestershire. A tornado of possibly T6 force (estimated wind speeds ~170mph) caused considerable damage.  JMet
 Tidal flood in the Thames on 20th September. This would imply some form of storm-surge event, quite a severe storm no doubt for this early in autumn?  8
 December 1564 and January 1565  Severe, prolonged frost (set in 7th December 1564/OSP). The court (of Elizabeth I) later (21st/OSP) indulged in sports on the ice at Westminster (perhaps one of the first occasions a great frost had been treated in this way: but see also 1309/10 which contradicts this). Football & other games were played on the ice.
(In the depths of the Little Ice Age, this would not have been too unusual; the reason the event is noted is because the Queen & Court were involved: it would have been an impressive sight!)
Thaw set in circa 3rd (old-style)/13th (new-style) January 1565 - accompanied by a notable Thames flood: A notably 'unhealthy' fog followed this thaw.
The winter of 1564/1565 was notably severe as regards depth of cold - amongst the top 10% of bitterly cold winters in the millennium. (Easton, in CHMW/Lamb).
 1, 6, 8
 July 1565  26th: Severe thunderstorms with hail.  6
 Thames flood, probably tidal (& therefore storm-surge related), on 24th December(OSP).  8
(Summer &
early Autumn)
 Drought all summer & 'harvest-tide' (London/South).  8
 Severe winter (London/South). [ Is this 1566/67 or 1567/68? Most often, the year of a great winter is that in which January falls ....]  8
 1567  Dry summer (London/South).  8
 1568  Excessively hot with drought (period not given, but presumably includes late spring & much of summer; London/South).  8
 A cold winter in western Europe / implied parts of Britain. (Easton, in CHMW/Lamb)  1
(October / November)
 October 30th (OSP, therefore ~9th/10th November NSP) Nottinghamshire - tornado 60 yards wide, lasted 7 minutes - destroyed all in its path.
[ The phrase 'destroyed all in its path' is a difficult one to interpret without knowing exactly what was in the way! A relatively weak tornado would destroy hay ricks, poorly built cottages etc., but if solid, brick or 'high-status' wood structures are meant, then this might be at least a 'moderate' tornado (on the TORRO scale.)]
  October & November 1570  5th October(OS)/15th October(NS): A tidal flood affected the Thames estuary as far up-river as Erith: extending from the Humber to the Straits of Dover. The high tide was associated with severe gales and the flood was aggravated by heavy rainfall.
11th November (new-style; known as the 'All-Saints' Day storm, so must have been 1st November old-style; in Holland, this is the 'Saints Flood'): The greatest North Sea storm / flood (after that of 11th October 1250 q.v.): coastal changes; cities drowned on the continent. However note that this storm is not regarded as having affecting (significantly) the English / Scottish side of the North Sea.
[ 1570 was a year of noteworthy storms / coastal flooding around the North Sea region; Great cities flooded, and many peopled killed. ]
 1, 6,
8, 23,
 A severe winter in western Europe / implied for parts of Britain. (Easton, in CHMW/Lamb)  1
 October 1571  Gales & sea flood in Lincolnshire & in the Fens: many ships wrecked, houses destroyed, cattle perished.  6
 Hard frost from early November to about mid-January (London/South). [ Also a cold winter much of western Europe.]
November 1st (C?) England - cold winter begins. Deep snows & freezing rains to January 6th (C?).
 1, 8, LWH
(November / Winter /
early Spring)
  Europe - cold winter, Rhine frozen. Great snow until April.
[ I've included this as it might imply that some part of Britain / the British Isles experienced cold weather too. At the very least, there would have been short-period incursions of bitterly cold air into the SE of England.]
 A tornado T6 (possibly T7 though this now thought to be less of a possibility) on the 27th (new-style calendar corrected from the Julian) at Patrick Brompton, North Yorkshire from historical records. Destroyed cottages, trees, barns, hayricks and most of a church.  (TORRO)
 October 24th(C?) - A 'marvellous storm and tempest of lightning, thunder, rain & hail of six inches at Exeter'. [ Six inches! Is this diameter, because if so, it is a huge stone measurement - might be circumference. ] (from Devon Co.C web-site)  x
 10th(OSP): Thames flooded by melting snow, deposited fish in Westminster Hall.
14th(OSP): 4-day snowfall 14th to 18th(OSP) with N. wind, deep drifts: many people & cattle lost.
 Snow 1 foot (~30cm) deep in London [ location not specified, but 'London' was a relatively small area - compared to today ] after 5-hour fall on the 4th (not clear if this is 'old-style' dating).  6
 August 1582  Severe thunderstorms & very "big" hail in Norfolk.  6
 1583  Drought, very hot / dry summer (London/South).  8
 October 8th (OSP) - England - gale - Houses & trees destroyed.
[ For the time being, I'll assume this is a 'widespread' storm event, and not a tornado - though from the brief description above, that is not clear. ]
 A cold winter over western Europe / implied for parts of Britain. (Easton, in CHMW/Lamb)  1
 July & August 1588  In July, 1588 the King of Spain dispatched a huge fleet of warships into British waters with the aim of engaging and defeating the English Navy. By the 8th August (new-style) the Spaniards finally accepted defeat (in the sense that they realised that they were not going to make the Spanish Netherlands and collect the army of invasion) and were running for safety. The Spanish fleet attempted to escape by sailing through the Strait of Dover and 'north-about' round the British Isles. The synoptic situation for the summer as a whole has been described by Hubert Lamb as 'winter-like' & also by contemporary reporters. It was during the summer that the Armada was (first) coming up from Lisbon (then controlled by Spain) through the Bay of Biscay. Also, the circuit around Scotland and west of Ireland was plagued with further 'un-seasonable' storms, and it was not until the later part of September that the stragglers could head directly for Spain. (For more details see an article by Lamb in the November 1988 issue of 'Weather'). It is arguable that the notably stormy weather (due no doubt to an unusually strong & southward - displaced jetstream) was as much a factor in the defeat of Spain's ambitions as the Royal Navy!
29th July: Spanish Armada entering the English Channel with SW wind after repeatedly stormy, often NW-N winds on the Atlantic coasts between England & Portugal since 9th May.
31st July: Squally WNW wind: thereafter mostly light W winds in Channel until 8th August.
8th August: Armada defeated off French coast (Gravelines), carried northwards by strong SW winds in North Sea.
24th August: Severe Atlantic SW gales 24th Aug - 3rd September, completed the break-up of the Spanish Armada, now northwest of Ireland and west of the Hebrides.
(possibly 1591 or 1592)
 A dry year (London/South); Drought so great that horsemen could ride across the Thames at London Bridge. [ see also below ]  8
 A cold winter in western Europe / implied for parts of Britain. (Easton, in CHMW/Lamb)  1
 1591 (or perhaps 1592)  A drought so great that horsemen could ride across the Thames at/near London Bridge & the River Trent was also said to be almost DRY. These accounts would imply a dramatic lack of rainfall (and winter / early-spring snowfall), not only during this year, but for the previous year as well - hence the possible confusion over dates. Taken with the dry weather noted for earlier years (above), and the cold winter - it looks as if this period was often visited by anticyclonically-driven drought episodes.  8
or April)
 March 30th (C? - might be Julian dating, therefore more like April 9th NSP) - England - gales - 1000's of trees fell.  LWH
(Summer / Annual)
 Wet & unseasonable summer - extensive flooding of fields etc., with loss / spoiling of crops across England: probably the year (1594) referred to in Wm. Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream". (This latter was set in Ancient Greece, but it is obvious from the writing that the weather-type was influenced by events in 'middle - England'!)  8
 A severe winter in western Europe / implied for parts of Britain. (Easton, in CHMW/Lamb)  1
 July 1596  11th: period of frequent severe gales in Scotland set in and lasted until 16th August: many ships lost on the east coast.  6
 1598  Great drought & very hot (?summer) (London/South).  8
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