Over the centuries, the counties of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire have experienced many notable weather extremes. Drawn together geographically and bound by a common heritage, they have a long and remarkably well documented history dating back to the first reliable weather notes which were recorded on 30th August 55 BC. Both Long Eaton and Sawley would obviously have shared in the experience due to their position on the borders of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. Amid all the devastation, misery and personal tragedy caused by the weather, emerged some humorous stories. Like the man who, during the thirteen weeks of continuous frost in 1814, built an igloo for his two pigs, complete with all mod cons; and shopkeeper Gary Draper, who was actually selling snow at 50p a box "while stocks last"!
People from this region have always known that the weather deteriorates with the arrival of weekends. This was confirmed by a 14 year scientific study by Mr Adrian Gordon of the Flinders Institute For Atmospheric And Marine Sciences. He concludes that temperatures fall at weekends when the warming effects of fuel burning factories and vehicles taper off. This fall in temperature is said to be especially noticeable in the Northern Hemisphere. On average, by two hundredths of a degree Celsius.
|Nottingham and surrounding districts experienced a frightening earthquake - the first to be recorded in England. The river Trent dried up for several hours.
|On 13th July, a violent hailstorm hit the Trent Valley. This was followed by a whirlwind which flattened buildings and destroyed the cornfields around Long Eaton and Sawley.
|Both Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire suffered a great drought, no rain had fallen from the end of March to the end of July.
|In July it was reported that hailstones as big as cannonballs beat down on all the houses along the River Trent. Five or six men were killed by the storm, the hailstones were said to be as much as 15 inches in circumference.
|A severe drought destoyed practically all the crops and vegetation in the areas around Nottingham. The rivers Trent and Erewash, plus other rivers were almost without water.
|On Michaelmas Day, blizzards raged throughout Derbyshire. Snowstorms were unparalleled in recent history. That year was also noted for exceptional rainfall , so ferocious in one instance that three prisoners were drowned in Derby Jail.
|A prolonged hot summer devastated the Nottingham and Derbyshire countryside. Many heaths and forests were vunerable to fire. On August 23rd, a burning ember from a fire accidentally fell amongst dry timber which instantly caught fire. The blaze spread rapidly and soon consumed an area of forest four miles mong and one and a half miles wide.
|Even the Great Plague at Eyam in Derbyshire succumbed to a great freeze that paralysed both Nottinghamshire and Derbyshier during this year.
|A severe frost lasting between September until February the following year inflicted harship in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. Both fuel and food were in short supply and boats on the river Trent were brought to a standstill.
|A tremendous thunderstorm rained down on Nottingham and the surrounding areas. Several people were struck to the ground by lightning, though thankfully none were killed.
|From Christmas Eve 1794 until 9th January 1795 the two counties had to endure remorseless frost andfrequent heavy snowfalls. At the time of Candelmas, the thaw came as temperatures rose overnight to melt the snow and frost. Torrents of water cascaded down from the Derbyshire hills and flooded the Trent Valley. Also in this year an earth tremor demolished dozens of chimney stacks and rang church bells in the area.
|Nottinghamshire experienced a terrific storm on 2nd August of this year. Torrential rain accompanied by very loud claps of thunder and lightning lasted for more than an hour, in which time two lambs and a horse were struck dead by lightning in a barn which was also set on fire. Hailstones as big as marbles battered houses and residents alike in the town.
|Nottinghamshire experienced a hurricane on 22nd August. The hurricane lasted some minutes and caused considerable damage, especially to trees which were uprooted.
|The summer of this year was particularly miserable and also one of the coldest ever recorded. The lack of sunshine and low temperatures was reliably ascribed to a volcano erupting in 1815, in the East Indies. The effects of the eruption took seven months to reach England and lasted 15 months in total. It spewed millions tons of ash into the atmosphere blocking out the sun. In Derbyshire particularly, conditions were bad. Snow fell in the county as late as June affecting crop growth and workers had to be laid off.
|The snow that fell in Derbyshire on 9th May was so fine that it penetrated some rooms in people's houses, blowing through keyholes and under doors . The south west wind drove clouds of particled snow into huge drifts of up to 15 feet deep, blocking roads and cutting off villages.
|A group of people took part in a cricket match which was played on the frozen River Trent. The winning team roasted a whole sheep on the ice to celebrate their victory. A month later, as the thaw set in, a mini iceberg estimated at being several tons in weight destroyed a bridge.
|Millions of gallons of water swamped Nottinghamshire towns and villages following three days of heavy rain, the Rivers Trent, Derwent and Erewash all broke their banks. Many suburbs including Attenborough, Beeston and Chilwell were submerged, and some people had to make their way through water up to eight feet deep. Some shop keepers including butchers, bakers and provision dealers, improvised by selling their wares from hired boats.
|Lasting from early January until late February a devastating frost held both Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire in its grip. There were accounts of frozen rivers, ice floes and ice bound creeks and jetties which led to massive job losses in industry.
|An earthquake struck in the early hours of 27th April. The tremor lasted for up to 10 seconds. Doors and windows rattled violently, crockery smashed to the ground in people's homes and people ran out into the street - some even half naked.
|Persistent rain and heavy falls of snow combined to flood the whole of the Trent Valley. The Midland Railway line from Long Eaton to Attenborough and then on to Nottingham was submerged by three feet of water and hard pressed steam engines had to battle to maintain services.
|This summer was the hottest in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire since 1868. Temperatures reaching 34.2 degrees celsius during August.
|Heavy rain caused a deluge of mud and debris to sweep down the Rivers Trent and Erewash in August of this year. Nottinghamshire registered a local rainfall of 4.2" in one day and many houses and properties were flooded along the banks of the Trent and Erewash.
|23rd May this year will never be forgotten by the residents of Derby, Nottingham, Long Eaton, Sawley Ilkeston and other surrounding areas (see floods page) and it ranks alongside 1947 as one of the most prominent weather years of the 20th Century. England in general was the wettest for 160 years and there was catastrophic flooding over a wide area. Long Eaton, Attenborough, Beeston, Chilwell were all under water. Hundreds of acres of farmland were inundated with scores of helpless cattle being swept along by the raging current of water. Local boat owners did sterling work in ferrying supplies and rescuing the sick and injured.
|Floodlight skating was one of the main attractions of this very cold January. The use of motor vehicle headlights allowed the midnight sport on the Lodge Farm Pond at Long Eaton.
|Torrential rainstorms brought further flood torment to Long Eaton and surrounding areas. Emergency deliveries of food, coal and medical supplies had to be provided by the local authorities who were severely criticised for the inadequate warnings and for failure to implement flood protection. At the height of the flood road access from Long Eaton to Nottingham was cut and the local railway station was submerged by the rising water.
|The 'Big Freeze' of this year is regarded as one of the worst in history. The whole of Britain was virtually ground to a halt and Long Eaton and Sawley were no exception. Coal supplies ran out, fires were stoked with broken furniture and there was a run on candles as electricity supplies were cut. Even essentials like bread and fresh vegetables were scarce and families already used to rationing due to the recent war were asked to economise further by the Prime Minister. Thousands of farm animals were lost from all farms in the Long Eaton and Sawley area. Snow fell almost continually from late January until March. Five lace manufacturers in Long Eaton had to close as workers couldn't get to work and even those who did had no electricity to power the machines. For 13 days in February the temperature never rose above freezing point. Thirty degrees of frost in the Trent Valley was recorded on 24th February. The end of March brought the 'Big Thaw' causing widespread flooding throughout the area.
|Summer returned with a vengeance, hot dry conditions persisted throughout June, July and August. Sun parched vegetation was susceptible to fire, and sparks from locomotive steam engines caused a number of fires to break out. Even the fitting of "spark arresters" to the engines failed to solve the problem and some areas of grassland adjacent to the railway tracks were completely wiped out.
|Derbyshire experienced a tornado. On 19th May at 3:00pm the skies went dark and although it was a very hot day, the wind began to pick up until it reached tornado strength leaving a trail of destruction, damaging over 100 houses and uprooting mature trees in its path. Heavy stone ridge tiles were plucked from the houses and slates from the roofs flew through the air like pieces of paper. According to the Met Office at the time, the tornado owed its origins to two levels of "slow moving unstable air masses" meeting up with the hot updraught from the countryside and the local factories in the area.
|One of the most notable earth tremors ever recorded in England and Wales hit Long Eaton and Sawley on 11th February of this year. It caused damage and panic as far away as Blackpool and Bristol. The epicentre in the Charnwood Forest area of Leicester hit both Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire very badly. Hundreds of chimney stacks across the region were sent crashing to the ground. Several people were hurt , not badly, although severely shaken. The tremor happened in the afternoon and there were scenes of panic in the local cinemas as there was a mass stampede of people trying to reach the emergency exits as the floor, seats and screen began to vibrate violently. Local builders were just washing down their trowels, when it happened again. A second tremor shook just before midnight the following day. Houses shook and significant damage was reported in Long Eaton, Sawley, Ilkeston, Borrowash and Stapleford. The fire brigade attended 21 dangerous buildings in the area.
|The summer of this year has only been eclipsed by the 1976 heatwave. It was consistently hot and the summer seemed exceptionally long. September saw only one day of rain and on 3rd October the temperature reached 79 degrees Farenheit. Both beer and soft drinks sales soared dramatically and so much water was used that the local reservoirs dried up. One local farmer took advantage of the lack of water in the reservoir to visit the site of a family farm he had worked on 16 years earlier. Across the region, hosepipe bans were commonplace and standpipes were installed in a number of locations. Tinder dry conditions persisted and flash fires were commonplace throughout the area.
|The worst December snowfalls for over 50 years left Christmas shoppers in Long Eaton and district wading through ankle deep snow and slush. Eight inches of overnight snow caused traffic chaos and gritters and snow ploughs were hard pressed to keep roads open. Hundreds of householders had to cope with the misery of burst pipes and power failures.
|Almost the whole of Britain was covered in snow by early New Year. By 20th January Britain had been almost "cut in half" by blizzards which paralysed the whole of the Midlands. The River Derwent froze over which allowed skaters to have their fun on the ice. Eight foot drifts of snow were reported on many roads. It is estimated that this mini "ice age" killed at least 49 people. Avoidable accidents were all too common. Blocked flues were blamed for a number of gas fire poisonings and there were several tragic deaths from hypothermia. Icicles stopped an express train en route from Derby to Newcastle because as the engine entered a tunnel, the icicles struck the driver who was injured and had to be taken to hospital.
|Long Eaton and Sawley residents, along with the rest of Derbyshire, had to contend with a severe Easterly gale on 19th February, also having to cope with up to 10" snow which fell in just five hours. The accumulation of snow and ice even brought down ITV's Elmley Moor transmitter in Yorkshire. Locally, many trees were damaged and overhead telephone lines and electricity cables were also brought down.
|Hailstones the size of marbles caused widespread damage and destruction throughout Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire. Some localities recorded 1" rain in only 20 minutes, and hail drifts were over three feet deep in places and there was widespread flooding which caused transport chaos.
|Hurricane force winds gusting up to 90mph caused extensive damage throughout Derbyshire on 3rd January 1976. Many trees toppled onto houses and in one instance killed the occupant. Power and telephone lines were brought down and there were scores of injuries. The emergency services answered around 1,200 calls in less than 18 hours. Later that year one headline described the effects of the worst drought in England since 1720, the relentless sunshine fuelling a fierce and continuing debate about global warming. In July and August when the drought set in, water stocks were already low in reservoirs. On 25th June the Met Office recorded a temperature of 106 degrees Farenheit. Local residents consumed ice cream, soft drinks and beer by the barrel load, and overindulgent sunbathers caused unprecedented sales of Calamine Lotion! It was wall to wall sunshine all summer. People discarded their nightwear in an attempt to keep cool, but sleep was almost impossible with temperatures already reaching 60 degrees Farenheit, even in the early morning. Local sun worshippers were flocking to bathe in the Trent and other local rivers, parks and other public places were forever crowded. Long Eaton's West Park in particular became overcrowded as people from surrounding areas brought their children to the paddling pool to try and cool off. Sales of paddling pools for children soared and the highest temperature recorded for that year was 120 degrees Farenheit.
|Compared in ferocity to the winter on 1947, the big freeze of 1979 characterised by biting cold and driving blizzards, brought disruption throughout Long Eaton and Sawley. So acute were the problems in Britain at the time that the government appointed Dennis Howell as Minister for Snow. Although Christmas temperatures in 1978 were comparatively mild, January 1979 began bitterly cold, a temperature of -16 degrees Centigrade was recorded and January as a whole for that year was the coldest month since 1963. February was no better - this month experiencing blizzards and blocked roads. Journeying to work was at a snail's pace, there was widespread absenteeism and dozens of schools were closed. Whole fields of winter vegetables were ruined. Snow continued to fall until the end of February.
|Everything but the kitchen sink fell on Derbyshire on Friday 10th July 1981. The wettest day in 40 years brought over 3" rain in just 70 minutes. It was a very hot, sticky day but by 3.30pm a dense wall of dark cloud engulfed the sky and 15 minutes later a violent storm broke and lasted for 75 minutes. It was so dark that the automatic street lights were triggered, and manhole covers were lifted by the force of the water. Business premises had to close because of flooding.
|Torrential rain and gale force winds gusting to over 90mph swept across Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. So severe was the weather that two lanes of the M1 had to be closed because trees had been uprooted and had crashed down onto the motorway. Hundreds of residents suffered damage to their roofs, and the East Midlands Electricity Board had to restore power cables that had been damaged.
|After listening to the assurances of weatherman Michael Fish, Britain slept soundly only to be awoken by the "mother of all storms" that had been brewing out in the English Channel. Suddenly it changed track and hit southern England in the early hours of the morning. Winds well in excess of 100mph demolished hundreds of homes, factories and public buildings and left scores of people dead. Communications were crippled and millions of trees destroyed. Although Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire escaped the worst effects, the eye of the storm passed close to the region, gusts of 60mph and above were recorded and there was some damage, although compared to that of the southern counties, this was slight.
|According to the Met Office statistics, storms like the one that occurred in 1987, visit England every 250 years. So less than three years later it happened again in January, only this time the storm arrived during daylight hours when people throughout the country were on the move. Hurricane force winds were reported at the Watnall Weather Centre. The M1 was littered with toppled vehicles and the North bound carriageway was closed by police for four hours. Throughout Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, 20,000 homes were without electricity and the Derbyshire police recorded that 19 vehicles had been overturned. Insurance policy holders were examining their small print and the national insurance cost of the storm was reckoned to be in the region of £2,081 million. The first year of the 90s was notable for its warmth. The winter months proving to be very mild and spring flowers blossomed in Mid-February. Daffodils making their appearance in local parks and roadsides as temperatures reached 21 degrees Centigrade during this month.
|Between 8th and 9th August, several thunderstorms targeted the twin counties. At Ilkeston in Derbyshire up to 30 lightning flashes a minute were recorded and many houses were struck. Many homes were flooded by the sudden downpours. Later that year there was a 30 vehicle pile up on the M1, due to thick fog and sub-zero temperatures. In one incident a speeding lorry ran over a police car!
|Torrential rain lashed the region on 13th September. A depressing autumn faded into a dreary winter and by late November, cold winds sent temperatures plummeting. Blizzards on 13th December closed a number of roads around Long Eaton. This was followed by a further snowfall of 21st December and lots of local football matches had to be postponed.
|The start of 1994 was nothing to write home about, strong winds and heavy rain continued to lash Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. In one instance a van was blown over twice within a few minutes, by a 60mph gust of wind. The high winds brought chaos to railway timetables and blizzards caused a number of accidents on the A1 and M1 motorways. There was a bad accident at junction 25 of the M1 at Sandiacre, involving five cars and a lorry. Conditions in the East Midlands in general were the worst for three years, with extensive traffic disruption and delayed flights at the regional airport, with many rural roads being closed.
|In late October and early November of this year, after periods of unusually heavy rain for a number of weeks, the flood defences surrounding Long Eaton and Sawley were put to the test once again. For the main part they were a success, but homes and businesses in the flood plain areas succumbed to the rising waters. The area around the Harrington Bridge in Sawley and surrounding fields, West Park in Long Eaton and Trent Meadows on Meadow Lane, were among the areas which suffered the most (see floods page).
|In November of this year, an earth tremor measuring 4.1 on the Richter Scale hit Long Eaton, Sawley and the surrounding areas. The epicentre was close to Charnwood Forest in Leicestershire. This tremor was the most notable since 1957 and caused some damage to properties in Long Eaton. Warnings of possible aftershocks were issued early in 2002.
|In the early hours of Monday 23rd September of this year, Long Eaton and Sawley experienced their second noticeable earth tremor within a year. This one measured 4.8 on the Richter Scale. The epicentre was in Dudley, West Midlands, but the shockwaves were felt over most of England and Wales. No damage was done locally but Long Eaton police were inundated with calls from concerned residents.
|At around 1am on the morning of Wednesday, February 27th, Long Eaton and Sawley and surrounding areas experienced the effects of an earthquake measuring 5.3 on the Richter Scale. The epicentre was near to Market Rasen in Lincolnshire. It was the strongest earthquake felt in the area since 1984.