he winter of 2010–11 was a weather event that brought heavy snowfalls, record low temperatures, travel chaos and school disruption to the islands of Great Britain and Ireland. It included the United Kingdom's coldest December since Met Office records began in 1910, with a mean temperature of −1 °C (30 °F), breaking the previous record of 0.1 °C (32.2 °F) in December 1981. Also it was the second-coldest December in the narrower Central England Temperature (CET) record series which began in 1659, falling 0.1 °C short of the all-time record set in 1890. Although data has never officially been compiled, December 2010 is thought to be colder than December 1890 over the United Kingdom as a whole, as Scotland was up to 2 °C warmer than England. Hence, it is thought to be the coldest December across the UK as a whole since before 1659.
The winter of 2010 in England saw the earliest widespread winter snowfall since 1993 with snow falling as early as 24 November across Northumberland and North Yorkshire. A maximum snow depth of 30 inches (76 cm) was recorded on 1 December in the Peak District, Sheffield, Doncaster, the Cotswold Hills and the Forest of Dean. In this event Scotland and Northern England were most severely affected. On 9 December temperatures recovered across much of the UK, causing a partial thaw.
Later, on Thursday 16 December a cold front reintroduced a cold, arctic airstream. This cold spell brought further snow and ice chaos back to Ireland and Britain with Southern England, Wales, the Republic of Ireland (excluding the westerly coastal regions) and Northern Ireland bearing the brunt of the wintry conditions. This led to severe disruption to the road and rail network with several airports being closed including London Heathrow Airport for a time. Several local temperature records were broken including a new record low for Northern Ireland of −18.7 °C (−1.7 °F) recorded at Castlederg on 23 December 2010.
By the new year a thaw had begun, and there was no recurrence of the extreme conditions for the remainder of the winter. There was some snowfall in early January, and there was an anticyclonic spell at the end of the month that brought some cold, frosty days. February was above average in temperature and ended on a mild note, although the snow returned in much of Scotland during March.