PICTURES: From ice floes on the Tay to “thunder snow”….Tayside and Fife’s harshest winters

© DC Thomson
Photos from some of Tayside's harshest winters.

Save for the odd snowy spell and a prolonged icy period, Tayside and Fife has dodged much of the recent winter weather; but the region hasn’t been so lucky in the past. Throughout the years Courier Country has endured several brutal winters. We decided to have a look back at some of the most famous ones.

Mookie the cat enjoying the snow during the 2010-11 winter.

1947: One of the UK’s most legendary winters

This was one of Britain’s most famous winters, and Courier Country did not escape it. January 1947 brought the snow and floods to Perthshire. Though skiers lapped up the conditions at Glenshee, farms and roads were reported to have flooded across the Tay Valley. The weather endured until February, with a report in The Courier on the 6th stating that roads in Arbroath and Montrose had been “buried” in snow. A “force” of some 800 men kept the streets of Dundee clear. However in Perthshire there were reports of farmers and shepherds hauling provisions through snow on horse-drawn sledges. The Angus Glens were also hit by “severe” conditions.

The worst of the weather hit Tayside in March. It was so bad for some in Glenshee that food supplies had to be airdropped down to homes. On March 13 of the year the “worst traffic block of the winter” was reported in Tayside with only three roads open. Scotland as a whole was left “cut off” from England by road and rail. Miners in Fife were unable to reach their work due to the conditions, resulting in big production losses. Villages across Courier Country were also isolated from the outside world as a result of the weather. On March 14 the longest bus journey out of Dundee was to Inchture – just nine miles away.

1962-63: The Big Freeze

Britain’s famous Big Freeze affected locals across Courier Country from December 1962 into January and February 1963. Icy roads caused a spate of accidents. The conditions brought widespread chaos to Scottish football fixtures, with some 24 tons of sand delivered to Tannadice to prepare Dundee United for a New Year clash with Queen of the South. Snow blighted communities across the country well into 1963.

On February 6 1963 major roads including the A9 and A90 were blocked as traffic mounted up during blizzard conditions. The Courier reported traffic being “paralysed” by the weather. Conditions in Fife were described as “chaotic”, with people in parts of Scotland left stranded in trains and children even left to spend evenings overnight in schools. On February 8 two helicopters from RAF Leuchars carried out seven rescue missions across Scotland in one day.

During the February of 1963 two Stanley men also became the first to walk across the frozen River Tay since 1898. Alec O’Brien and brother-in-law Ian Smith managed the feat at Burnmouth. They later abandoned an attempt to repeat the daring crossing on bicycles a few days later.



1978-79: Ice floes on the Tay

Tayside endured another frozen spell from January into February 1979.

Just after Christmas, winds from the east spread throughout Scotland and brought Arctic conditions. There was a sustained cold spell between January 8 and February 22. Snow came to Dundee and the surrounding area in early January 1979.

Ice floes formed on the Tay near Dundee during the winter. On January 3 two teenagers were rescued by the Broughty Ferry Inshore Lifeboat near Kingoodie after they became stuck on a drifting slab of ice.

Lows of -9.4C were recorded in Dundee on January 13. Later the same month, blizzard conditions hit Tayside with about 12in of snow reported in Perth on January 30. The poor conditions continued throughout February. Later in the year, on March 22, police described scenes of “pandemonium” across Tayside and Fife following blizzards.


1987: Seven miles of traffic from Dundee as Tayside hit by blizzards

Heavy snowfall battered Tayside again in January 1987, with blizzards affecting roads across Dundee and Angus. Locals fell victim to hypothermia during what was described as “appalling” weather conditions from early January.

Eight inches of snow landed in Dunfermline on January 12, and schools were closed right across the Kingdom, Dundee, Angus and Perthshire. At the time the blizzards which hit the Forfar and Kirriemuir areas were said to be the worst in recent memory with a foot of snow landing. Seven miles of traffic was reported between Dundee and Monifieth on the same day. On January 16, it was reported that Tayside Regional Council had spent some £300,000 keeping roads clear in just six days.


2009-10: Another “big freeze” hits the UK

Starting in mid-December 2009, the UK was hit by heavy snow and freezing temperatures. Arctic conditions returned in early January. Across the country schools were closed, traffic came to a standstill and power outages were a regular occurrence. By January 7 the whole country was blanketed in snow. Overnight temperatures from January 7 to 8 reached -22.3C at Altnaharra, the coldest recorded temperatures in the UK since December 30 1995 when a low of -27.2C was reached at the same location.

Cold temperatures and snowfall persisted until February. Dundee experienced its coldest day in more than 50 years after a low of -9.4C was recorded on January 8.


2010-11: “Thunder snow” hits Tayside

A phenomenon known as “thunder snow” battered Tayside on November 28, 2010; bringing storms and between 8in and 10in of the white stuff to the likes of Dundee and Perth. The Arctic conditions brought chaos to the region, enduring through December into early January. December 2010 was the coldest in the UK since records began. For more on the year of “thunder snow”, click here.