ON THIS DAY: Coldest Winter in 30 Years


 -8 Temperatures and heavy snowThat was what the weather was like 5 years ago today on the wirral.

Winter 2009/10 was the most severe in the UK for over 30 years and the coldest since 1978/79. As snow and ice swept across the country, the country was riddled with cold alerts and weather warnings.

On 5th/6th January, Merseyside experienced heavy snow which saw 1,000’s of motorists stuck in traffic, some of which abandoned their cars completely, schools & colleges shut and most public transport was cancelled including airport closures.

Here’s how it turned out on wirral:

2nd January 2010

A weather front driven by a strong northerly wind brought heavy snow in north Wales, the Isle of Man and north-west England. Wythenshawe near Manchester Airport had 5 inches (130 mm) of snow.

3rd January 2010

Weather front continues to head south with colder air now sweeping in behind, BBC issue a weather watch and this amazing 3 day forecast.

4th January 2010

With day time temps below freezing at times the North West Ambulance Service declared the situation a ‘major incident’ and as a result will only attend life-threatening and genuine emergency calls. NHS in the Merseyside area asks people to think carefully and only visit A&E departments when it is absolutely essential.

As ICE is a major issue transport was already impacted on the 4th as Merseyside Police advised drivers not to make unnecessary journeys during the icy weather and if they did, they must make a journey to drive with extreme caution. The Highway Agency also said: “don’t drive unless you have to”

Arriva cancelled the following services due to ICE: Bootle, Birkenhead, Green Lane, Speke, Skelmersdale, Southport, St Helens. Cumfy: No services. Stagecoach: Merseyside & Preston. A2B: No services. Avon: No services. First Wirral: No services. Halton: No Services

Over 100 schools and colleges shut across merseyside as forecasters warn of large amounts of snow heading for the area on the 5th. 

The Met Office issued weather warnings for every region in the UK. The Met Office also confirmed that the UK is experiencing the longest prolonged cold spell since December 1981.

Cold alerts and snow warnings issued for 5th Jan 2010
Cold alerts and snow warnings issued for 5th Jan 2010

Everyone on the wirral watched the BBC weather forecast for the following day, as snow was predicted to fall over the merseyside area.

5th January 2010

The 5th saw transport grind to a halt on the wirral. Schools were shut, most transport was cancelled, traffic didn’t move and the M53 was gridlocked. The area saw one of its heaviest snow falls ever on this day. Here’s the scene on wirral that I took during my college days (excuse the badly taken video)

Below are a few reports from the media on the day.

1:56pm: Merseyside Police issued a warning about driving conditions on the M53 in Wirral, they said ‘the motorway runs the length of the Wirral and traffic is said to be down to 20mph in both directions, with visibility very poor’.

2pm: Students at Birkenhead Sixth Form College were allowed to leave early after afternoon lectures were scrapped due to the snow.

2:06pm: Birkenhead town centre was gridlocked as cars couldn’t move and ‘were slipping all over the place’.

3pm: Police close the Queensway Tunnel between Liverpool and Birkenhead due to massive congestion problems in Birkenhead town centre.

Storeton Woods in 2010
Storeton Woods in 2010


Police say cars being abandoned on Wirral’s snow-blocked roads are adding to gridlock across the borough.

Arterial routes like the A41 are like “car parks” due to huge congestion in Birkenhead town centre.

Traffic on nearby main roads such as Argyle Street South and Conway Street is also moving at a snail’s pace, said a spokeswoman.

Many people have abandoned their vehicles to either catch a train – as most are still running normally – or even walk home.

But those abandoned cars are only adding to the congestion, she said.

One driver left Birkenhead at 2pm to head for Hoylake – and just reported that he is still only half way there.

Brendan Kenny, Twittering from the side of the A41, reports it has taken 90 minutes to get from Bromborough to Rock Ferry.

Twitter Reports:  @escapistescape: “A41 is solid with traffic as far back as Great Sutton. Current speed on there is 1 mile an hour…”

@lindaknox: “Warning to Wirral motorists, the whole of Bebington all way through New Ferry & up to Hr. Beb almost standstill and has been for about 1 hr.”

BBC North West Tonight also had this amazing report:

6th January 2010:

One youtube user took this footage of busses losing control in the slippery conditions on Hardman Street in Liverpool:

Overall, the prolonged freezing conditions resulted in an exceptionally cold December across the UK: the coldest December in the last 100 years and the coldest across central England since 1890. Indeed, this was the coldest month in the UK since February 1986.

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Wirral snow in 2010 - Levers Causeway
Wirral snow in 2010 – Levers Causeway

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