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A look back at the extreme weather stories of 2013

John Hercock took these stunning pictures of Upminster Windmill in the January snow. John Hercock took these stunning pictures of Upminster Windmill in the January snow.

Saturday, January 4, 2014
12:00 PM

A chaotic year of weather created headlines throughout 2013 - as Havering battled snow, sun and storms.

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Havering's St George's Day celebrations in April were bathed in sunlight.Havering's St George's Day celebrations in April were bathed in sunlight.

As 2013 ended amidst more storm warnings and public disruption - Sam Gelder looks back at the year’s weather-related news stories - including the extended winter, July’s heatwave, the St Jude storm damage and the Christmas floods.

A chaotic year of weather created headlines throughout 2013 - as Havering battled snow, sun and storms.

The first forecast of arctic conditions came in mid-January, and supermarket shelves emptied as people stocked up on groceries.

But when the snow failed to come, the internet was flooded with people asking what all the fuss was about.

volunteers at Wellgate Farm are making ice pops for the animals to keep them cool - with turnips and apples etc frozen together.
Donna Widlake, with Winston and Willowvolunteers at Wellgate Farm are making ice pops for the animals to keep them cool - with turnips and apples etc frozen together. Donna Widlake, with Winston and Willow

Rise Park resident Colin Grainger, former editor of the Recorder’s sister paper the Newham Recorder, wrote on Facebook: “Is that it? Front page warning today ... Don’t go out unless your journey is necessary! Careful, you might enjoy yourself. Welcome back to health and safety gone mad UK.”

However, the hasty residents were eating humble pie – and tinned goods – over the next few days when the heavy snow arrived, closing many schools across the borough.

February brought more scatterings – but it was a case of the calm before the snowstorm as Mother Nature tore up the rule book in March.

The extended winter saw Havering under white blankets for periods of the month – in what was the UK’s coldest March since 1962. Freezing temperatures swept the borough right up until the end of the month.

Cars damaged by fallen trees in Rush Green during St Jude storm in October.Cars damaged by fallen trees in Rush Green during St Jude storm in October.

The cold snap continued into April, with temperatures heating up only slightly, although the sun did make a timely appearance for the Romford Market St George’s Day celebrations.

Thousands took advantage of the nice weather and flocked to the historic market in honour of England’s patron Saint on Saturday April 20.

Leader of the Council, Cllr Michael White said: “Seeing the sun shine and the market clad in red and white bunting provided the perfect ingredients for a great day of celebration.”

With spring seemingly bypassed, it was left to the summer months to make up for lost time and provide the country with a heat wave – which eventually arrived in July.

The borough experienced temperatures of 25C plus for 17 of the 31 days in what was the third hottest July since 1910.

A couple of relatively quiet months weather-wise were disrupted in October by the St Jude storm – which caused major damage across the whole of Northern Europe on October 27 and 28.

It even led Michael Fish – who famously downplayed the great storm of 1987 and was publicly blamed for its damage – to encourage people to take the morning off work.

Public transport in Havering was badly affected by the storm – which caused widespread damage across the borough due to winds of up to 40mph.

Many trees were uprooted causing damage to vehicles and parks, though no serious injuries were reported and Havering avoided the worst of the storm – which caused 17 deaths across the continent.

Cabinet member for streetcare, Cllr Barry Tebbutt said the organisation of the council’s street teams ensured the storm was dealt with efficiently.

He said: “We have a good team here and they were all set up and ready to go after we received the warning.”

The warnings were back just in time for Christmas, as another storm hit the country’s shores on December 24 – ruining thousands of people’s holidays.

Again, Havering avoided the worst of the damage – although flooding of two feet deep was reported in Rainham and Upminster.

It was a disruptive yet unsurprising way to end a year that saw a spike in weather warnings – and as a result provided plenty of small talk material for the British public.

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