Diarmid's Observatory

Banishing Winter
Buchan's 'warm' and 'cold' spells.
by John Harper

If you live in England, have you noticed how, no matter how joyfully you banish Winter and welcome Spring at Imbolc, there is often a cold spell, sometimes with snow, just after it?

The days between Feb 7th and 14th are usually colder than normal for the year. This period is known as Buchan's First Cold Spell. Alexander Buchan observed the weather patterns for about fifty years prior to 1900, and found that there were six periods in the year when lower than normal temperatures could be expected, and *also* three periods where the weather would be *higher* than normal. The other dates are thus:

2nd Cold Spell, 11th - 14th April, often called 'Blackthorn Winter'
3rd Cold Spell, 9th - 14th May
4th Cold Spell, 29th June - 4th July
5th Cold Spell, 6th - 11th August
6th Cold Spell, 6th - 13th November

and his warm spells

1st Warm Spell, 12th - 15th July
2nd Warm Spell, 12th - 15th August
3rd Warm Spell, 3rd - 14th December

Take notes for a few years and see if you agree with him!

It would be interesting to see whether there are similar patterns elsewhere. (Start your records *now*.)


By John Harper for Diarmid's Observatory


The Castle The Observatory