JUST as we were beginning to think we might get away with it, winter arrived with a vengeance. Up until the 18th it was quite warm, about 2C (3 to 4F) above the mean, quite sunny and relatively dry in the east of the region. Then the mercury dropped, averaging around 3C (5 or 6F) below what we'd usually experience for the rest of the month.

Consequently, over the month as a whole, temperatures were pegged back to about the normal for the past 20 years, but compared to 30-year means, they were still slightly on the mild side. One only has to go back two years for a generally cooler February, though day-time temperatures were the lowest in February since 1996.

With a great deal of snow towards the end of the month it became wet in the east, where more than one and a half times the normal rainfall accumulated. Closer to the Pennines, it was more evenly distributed throughout February and only added up to around two-thirds of expectations.

For more than half the month, high pressure persisted to the South-West of the British Isles. This is where it had resided for most of the winter, bringing us a warm westerly airstream interrupted occasionally by a cooler north-westerly and the odd brief northerly interlude.

The first week-end provided a minor departure from this trend. Once more, cooler conditions were pushing south-east across the country. However, at the same time, very cold air was also attempting to filter west from the continent as another high cell formed briefly over northern Europe.

We were caught in the filling of the resulting sandwich and had to put up with grey skies and spots of rain, but at least it was still reasonably mild. The westerly flow soon reasserted itself but this was the first time this winter that a bitter easterly had threatened. It was a hint of things to come.

The next two week-ends also coincided with the invasion of north-westerlies. The second spell was again short-lived, but the third certainly wasn't and came with an added twist. The associated low took a more southerly track down the North Sea. Winds behind it veered into the north-east so that the abundance of wintry showers that were produced in its circulation not only affected coastal districts but spread right in land to the Dales.

High pressure then built over Scandinavia, where it became established for a few days, dragging in an icy easterly blast from Russia on its southern flank. On the plus side for the North-East, the chill was moderated by its long journey over the sea. On the other hand this supplied the moisture to maintain the plentiful supply of snow and hail showers.

Towards the final week-end this anticyclone began to lose its grip, but only to be replaced by another close to Iceland. This backed the breeze into the north once more, allowing the showers to keep rattling into coastal fringes and giving some longer periods of snow, too. With the wind becoming strong at times, the snow drifted considerably over the Moors with a few houses being submerged up to their eves.

Fortunately for many of us, the snow was mostly wet and didn't blow around, even turning to rain or sleet on occasions, especially near the coast.

At Carlton, up until the 19th, rainfall amounted to only 15mm (0.6ins), less than a third of a typical February total. During the remainder of the month the equivalent of 70mm (2.8ins) of rain tumbled down, largely as snow. It became the third wettest February in my 22-year record after those of 1991 (102mm, 4.0ins) and 1996 (91mm, 3.6ins).

The snow depth reached nearly 25cm (10ins) around my house on the 24th, the greatest I've known here in February. More fell during February 1986, when the severe weather lasted the whole of the month, but then the snow came and went, with a maximum depth of 15cm (6ins).

At least with a lot of wind and cloud, temperatures didn't dip much at night. The lowest at Carlton was well over 10C (18F) higher than the minus 15C (4F) to which it plunged in that February of 1986.

February temperatures and rainfall at Carlton-in-Cleveland: mean max 6.6C, 44F, (-0.5C, -1F), mean min 1.3C, 34.5F, (+0.0C, +0.0F), highest max 11.5C, 52.5F, 3rd, lowest min -3.5C, 25.5F, 23rd, total rainfall 85mm, 3.35ins, (+35mm, +1.4ins, 168%), wettest day 19.2mm, 0.75ins, 20th, number of rain eays, with 0.2mm (0.01ins) or more: 16 (+2). Figures in brackets show the difference from the 21-year mean, 1984-2004.