January began with the garden and landscape under snow, a situation that continued until the 11th, with the temperature on many days never getting above freezing, and some very hard frosts, with minus 12 degrees C registered one morning, and often minus 5 degrees C by 3 pm in the afternoon as the sun fell away.
These low temperatures came, inevitably, with some clear skies and sunshine, which was a welcome change after the gloom of the latter part of December. Our own records had mirrored the official Met Office report for 2020, that it was both one of the wettest, but also the sunniest year we’ve experienced here. Although this was skewed towards a marvellous sunny spring 2020, and a very wet autumn and winter, as shown by the PV readout for the year. The rainfall total for the year was 2257.4 mm.
The very cold start to January has restricted most activities, save alpine walking and work on the access track, top dressing several sections with 20 mm gravel – we’ve found this is longer lasting than the previously used gravel to dust, or ‘scalpings’, even if a little more expensive.
A secondary significant snowfall on the morning of January 3rd, approaching from the North as the sun rose, created some wonderful light effects, but exacerbated the treacherous state of the local roads.
This didn’t seem to put off many vehicles chancing the hill above our house, in spite of hospitals currently being close to being overwhelmed with Covid cases, and the third national lockdown still being in place, and just extended throughout the whole of the month of January.
As the early snow and harsh continues left us, they were replaced with heavy rain on most days, so we still had few chances for either safe bike rides, or good garden photography. Things worsened with the arrival of Storm Christoff on January 18th to 20th which saw us receiving 105.5 mm of rain in 3 days. This sort of deluge would have played havoc with our access track, if we hadn’t cleared our run off channels in advance. As it was we escaped lightly, though everywhere was now saturated. Once again though the weather flipped shortly afterwards, after advance warning from a very rarely glimpsed lunar halo the night before heavy snow and then minus 13 degrees C over the weekend of January 23/4th.
The 4 inches of snow which fell lasted for about 4 days, then suddenly on a murky misty day on January 28th, temperatures rose with little wind, to about 9 degrees C, and for the first time in January honeybees from 4 of our hives were active, even managing to visit some of the many snowdrops now open.
The month ended with a couple of brief but spectacular sunrises, before the winds picked up, from an easterly/Northeasterly direction and temperatures fell again. The Met Office confirmed that across the UK as a whole, it’s ended up being the coldest January since 2010, and was the coldest average temperature month since March 2013, so unsurprisingly, apart from a few Crocus, Daphne bholua, Cyclamen coum and snowdrops, there’s not been much to look at in the garden – apart from frost and snow!
The rainfall (and snow melt) total for the month ended at 218.8mm, so certainly enough to leave the land sodden heading into February, as is often the case. January ended with a fabulous evolving sunrise.