Has the Thames ever frozen over?

This is about the listing of recorded extreme weather situations, especially in winters, of the last two millennia

Winter is just around the corner and, like every year, there are various forecast attempts. The spectrum ranges from the so-called 100-year calendar to the farmer's rules and scientific long-term forecasts. However, a reliable method has not yet been found and forecast hits are more likely to be random. Extreme weather situations in particular are particularly difficult to predict and they always occur when you least expect them. This is not about a climate trend discussion, but simply about the question: What kind of extreme weather situations can occur in Central Europe (even without the influence of modern industry).

The winter of 1995/96 was considered by many people to be exceptionally cold and

felt long winter. As already shown in my winter evaluation, was

it is less the cold than the long duration that is decisive. The cold period lasted from the beginning of November to April 15, of a total of 167 days, the daily mean on only 20 days was noticeably (> +0.4 K) above the normal value. It is by no means uncommon for cold winters to last well into spring. In the monthly overviews of the Schwerin series of measurements I have often referred to the Berlin series of measurements (since 1730), which clearly shows that there have been far greater fluctuations in the past two centuries. Winter is usually the most affected by the seasons. In the last few years it was the frequent mild winters that led to the current climate debate:

The spectrum ranges from climate fluctuations to the beginning, man-made climate catastrophe. The experts have been dealing with this topic for more than 50 years. So wrote Prof. Dr. A. Wagner as early as 1940 in his book “Climate changes and climatic fluctuations. . "Since the beginning of our century, a change in various elements of the climate has become more and more noticeable. This leads to the unquestionable conclusion that what is commonly referred to as climate is nothing immutable, but is subject to quite noticeable changes over the course of decades or centuries" .. . "A prognosis about the further development of the current climatic fluctuations can of course not be given. The task of climatology is only to carefully observe these processes and to present them clearly ".

Up to now there has not been a climatic phenomenon that has not already existed. The climate has been relatively stable over the past 100 years. But it would be quite naive to assume that it must go on like this. In the past centuries there have often been major and minor climatic fluctuations. In the Middle Ages (10th to 12th centuries), for example, we find a pronounced optimum climate, while the counterpart in Central Europe was the so-called "Little Ice Age" in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Unfortunately, the weather has only been consistently documented with measured values ​​since the end of the 17th century (1680 Central England); the Berlin series that I often cite begins in 1730.

Fortunately, chronicles (churches, cities, etc.) have been kept for many centuries in which all important events were recorded. The respective weather was very important. For example, a good harvest depends on the survival of many people. Two successive failures inevitably led to famine. Extraordinary weather phenomena will therefore most likely be found in two chronicles.

A. Wagner wrote about this: "Perhaps even more convincing than the dry figures for the climatic elements are changes in nature, because these become obsolete without any aid, so they cannot be interpreted as pseudo results due to any deficiencies in the measurement methods."

As early as 1904 the Royal Prussian Meteorological Institute published a "Catalog of remarkable weather events - from the oldest times to the year 1800" by Dr. R. Hennig. There you can find excerpts from old chronicles, some of which are quite strange and amusing to read .

Entries such as 1069/70 severe winter or 1283 mild winter and spring are not very meaningful, because the assessment of what is severe or mild is relative and depends subjectively on the respective chronicler. I therefore only used the entries that also contained information on phenological or physical effects (e.g. blossoming trees in January or all rivers frozen over, etc.). Indirectly, conclusions can then be drawn about the respective temperature level, there are sometimes no flowering plants and trees in winter with a temperature deviation of only 2-5 ° C. and a few degrees of cold are necessary for the Baltic Sea or the Danube to freeze over. Very long winters were of interest and I placed particular emphasis on finding examples from as different centuries as possible. A small selection of extreme weather conditions follows:


Extremely severe winter; the Rhine and many other rivers frozen over.


Very severe winter in western Europe: the snowpack is preserved for 6 months.


Unprecedentedly severe winter, probably the hardest. that has ever affected Europe: on October 1st all rivers and seas suddenly freeze over; also the Black Sea and the Dardanelles frozen over; Snow cover 20 EIlen high. The terrible winter was followed by a period of great drought.


Unusually severe winter: the cold of winter began as early as September 22nd. Frost and snow almost continuously until April 12th. For a month all rivers in Europe carry the heaviest trucks.


Extremely severe winter; the Thames frozen for 3 months; the army of Emperor Heinrich l. sets up camp on the frozen Havel during the siege of Brandenburg.


Three extremely severe winters (the Canossa winter) across Europe from late October to April 15; the rivers frozen from November 26th to mid-March.


The winter so mild. that snow never fell.


A winter of unusual mildness; probably the mildest that has ever been in Central Europe; In January the trees bloom in Switzerland, in February you can find small apples, hazelnuts, and large apples, in May the crops and grain are ripe, at the beginning of August the grapes are ripe.


Very mild winter and spring: the vines bloom in April, the harvest ends before Midsummer, and the grapes are ripe at the end of July.


Very mild winter; in February the trees bloom and the sheep go to pasture


Extremely warm winter without frost and snow until the end of March; then very cold until mid-May.


A winter of unheard-of mildness that only the winter of 1185/86 was equal: at Christmas the trees are in bloom, the girls come to church adorned with fresh flowers, and the boys bathe in the rivers; on January 6th the birds breed; strawberries are found on January 14th and the vines begin to bloom.


Very mild year. The trees bloom in January, the vines in April, the grain harvest begins around May 22, and the grape harvest around July 25.


Very severe winter from September 16 or 28 to April 6. - On March 9th, wagons can still drive over the frozen rivers.


Extraordinarily severe winter, called "The Great Winter" in Germany, from

November 11th to January 27th, all rivers carry the heaviest trucks; on the

frozen Skagerrak the wolves run from Norway to Jutland; the Thames

frozen. January 28th: ​​Sudden thaw all over Central Europe, making it very big

Floods are caused.

1420 - 1428 Almost all winters are very mild.


Unusually mild winter; in Switzerland the trees bloom as early as March, the roses on April 7th, the vines in April, and ripe cherries and strawberries can be found there in mid-April; The grain harvest begins on June 4th, and ripe grapes and peaches are produced on July 22nd. In Brandenburg, too, the trees bloom on March 20th and the vines on April 4th. On June 8th all of Central Europe to Transylvania suddenly became very frosty, in the Rhenish mountains on June 7th and 8th big snowfalls.


Very severe, long and snowy winter; there is a blanket of snow in Prussia

uninterrupted from November 11th to February 22nd; the Vistula frozen from November 11th to April 23rd.


Very severe, long winter, the Baltic Sea frozen until the beginning of May.

1538 - 1540 A time of abnormally warm weather


Extremely mild winter; On New Year's Day and Epiphany, the girls in the Mark Brandenburg come to church with wreaths of fresh violets and cornflowers.


Very severe and snowy winter in all of Central and Western Europe from 7.

December to January 2nd; the Elbe frozen for 13 weeks. Thames and Scheldt all frozen.

1586/87 Severe winter from November 9th to February 24th.

End of May: Lots of snow and frost and cold all over Central Europe.


Extremely severe winter, called "The Great Winter", in all of Europe and also in North America, where the European colony Sagadahoc was founded, next to 763 and 1740 the hardest that has ever occurred; Start in Europe on December 21st, peak on January 20th; all rivers frozen over, even the Thames so big that boats are built on the ice; the Baltic Sea and Lake Constance also frozen over; still unusually high snow cover in Padua; Spain also hit hard; Even King Heinrich IV's beard was frozen one morning when he woke up; the wine freezes in the barrels; Even after Whitsun (May 15th a. St.) the boys are skating on the frozen trenches near Danzlg.


Extremely severe and snowy winter. cold until June 7th (n.St.); the Swedes under King Charles X march with all their guns over the frozen Oresund, forcing the Danes to peace at Roskilde (February 26); in Rome as much snow as no winter had brought in centuries; even in England the snowpack does not melt away from December 1st to the spring equinox with sustained north winds, and the cold weather lasts until June 1st. After June 7th, great heat.


Extremely mild winter; 17 to 23 May: severe, perishable frost with snow and frost all over Central Europe.


Very mild winter; the flowers begin to bloom as early as February.


Very snowy and unusually severe winter across Europe; on the frozen

Thames Market is held; in Paris the thermometer drops to -15.7 ° R (-20 ° C) on January 22nd. the lowest temperature observed there until 1788.


In the whole of Europe, the winter was incredibly severe and long, next to 1607/08 probably the coldest of the whole millennium; Duration from October 24th to June 13th; already on

November 27th

in Dresden - 20 ° R. according to the Florentine scale; even in Spain and Portugal it is

Snow 10 feet high; on the frozen Thames there is a market and an ox

roasted, the great Windermere lake is crossed by deer; From February 23rd to March 1st there will be a target shooting on the frozen Rhine near Mainz; On March 5th, bread is baked on the frozen Neckar near Heidelberg; Zuidersee and Sund freeze over completely, so that one can travel across on foot; The wells in Germany were still frozen in April, in May there are still a lot of heavy snowfalls, especially on May 4th; the last frost in Germany does not appear until June 13th.


Very severe winter since December 27, 1766; all rivers in Germany and

France freeze over; in Hanover on January 19 - 18 ° F (-28 ° C); a lot of snow in England.


Very snowy, extremely severe and long winter; the Little Belt frozen solid. A market is held on the ice near Rotterdam and Hague; even in England from October 18th to March 14th only 26 days without frost: Cold maximum on February 27th and 28th in Leipzig -2I ° F (-29 ° C), in Waldheim -29 ° F. (-34 ° C); at the same time snowstorm in Naples; Eastern France's snow is 2 feet on March 12 and 13, and 15 fingers on April 2 and 3.


Very severe winter; the French army under Pichegru passes on

December 28th the frozen Meuse with all guns, on January 8th as well

frozen Waal and seized the frozen Dutch fleet on January 25; The cold peak on January 25th, in London minimum temperature -20 ° F. (-29 ° C).


Exceptionally mild January. Average temperature of the month in Berlin 4.9 ° R. (6 ° C).

These records show us that Mother Nature's weather offer can be quite broad and that the seasons can be completely shifted in individual years. These extreme weather conditions existed in the past and they cannot be ruled out for the future either. The winter of 1995/96 was therefore quite modest compared to the extreme winters of the past.

Against this background, the accumulation of mild winters in recent years appears far less spectacular.

Of course, interesting weather reports from the other seasons could also be found. z. B. extremely long periods of drought. Floods or very strong storms etc., but that is beyond the scope of this work. It was only intended to show that freak weather does not necessarily require human influence.

The current pollution of nature through environmental toxins and dirt should not be denied, but one should be more careful with "scaremongering" and reports about "weather sensations".