Published: 05:00, 15 January 2022
For many in Kent the year 1987 is remembered for the Great Storm, when winds of up to 110mph left a trail of destruction across the county and four people dead.
Its long-standing infamy is why fewer recall the weather phenomenon that struck nine months earlier during one of the coldest winters on record.
The snow started to fall on January 11 and didn't let up for four days, with temperatures plummeting to a staggering -20C.
Cars were buried, roads became impassable and hundreds of schools were forced to shut as the blizzard left the county at a standstill.
Supermarkets ran low on food amid delivery delays and panic buying and petrol stations were left without fuel as the supply chain ground to a halt.
Hospitals were forced to cancel non-urgent operations and a number of elderly people were admitted suffering the effects of hypothermia.
The temperature dropped so low that even the sea froze in Herne Bay for the first time since 1963.
Several towns were cut off and practically all train services were cancelled – one journey from Charing Cross to Ashford took an incredible 13 hours.
The extreme weather came as a shock to many as it followed what had been a relatively mild start to winter.
But harsh winds from Siberia moistening over the North Sea created the conditions for a snowstorm like few before it.
Angela Maybourne, of Staplehurst Road, Sittingbourne, has more reason than most to remember the early hours of January 13.
At 3am, the mum-to-be’s waters broke and she was faced with the daunting task of making it from Hartlip to Maidstone Hospital.
“We rang the hospital and they told us to call the police," she recalls.
"They arranged for a snow plough to meet us at Key Street traffic lights, as it was then.”
Wrapped up in a hat, coat and blankets, off they went with Angela’s parents in tow.
“The snow plough took us up and over Detling Hill and then a police car met us at the bottom, and we had a police escort to the hospital," Angela remembers.
“We had to phone the police station later to say whether it was a boy or a girl.”
Holly was born at 1.15pm that day but the drama did not end there.
As he drove home from the hospital, new dad Simon Baker came off the road and had to be dug out by Gurkhas.
The late Tom Castle, who farmed at Petham all his life and kept weather records for more than 50 years, described January 1987 as a particularly savage cold snap.
During the big freeze he recorded a bone-chilling -19C, with the mercury not rising above -9C, even during the day, on January 12.
Speaking 15 years ago, Mr Castle said: “It barely lasted two weeks but it was savage while it was here.
“All the local farmers turned out to clear the roads with diggers and the Army even had to drop in hay by helicopter to sheep that could not be reached.”
The Isle of Sheppey, which at the time was accessed by the Kingsferry Bridge, became almost completely cut off.
Sheerness residents remember seeing a broken-down car, a broken-down AA van and a broken-down AA tow truck all on one snow-covered road.
There were thousands of call-outs to recover stricken vehicles, yet many had to remain abandoned for days.
Ian Read, a senior reporter for the Evening Post at the time, recalls covering the snowstorm on Sheppey.
"They were sending RAF helicopters up like taxis," he recalls.
"They were flying out from the Isle of Grain and dropping supplies to villagers. I was out with the RSPCA as they tried to save a woman's cat.
"I haven't seen weather as bad as that since."
Strong easterly winds combined with heavy snowfall caused drifts of up to 6ft deep in places.
Ray Morris was a field engineer working to restore electricity across the county when he became lost in a blizzard.
Speaking in 2017, aged 67, he said: "The linesmen managed to get me up the top of Detling Hill in the Land Rover.
"The snow was almost as high as the windscreen. It was terrible, I’d never known anything like it.
“The equipment I needed to reach was within walking distance, but the snow was 4ft deep in places.
“I started walking but the snow was blowing all around me, my tracks were covered and I became disorientated. I was lost for about an hour-and-a-half, which was frightening, but I eventually found my way back by recognising the shape of the trees I noticed when I left the Land Rover.”
A detective sergeant in Dover at the time, Ashley Clark, recalls working through the bitter temperatures.
"I remember going out and arresting someone and because it was so blimmin' cold, I had a Davy Crockett hat on," he said.
"I think I scared the living daylights out of him, thinking a wild man was on his doorstep.
"Life went on during the snow. As detectives, we just did a lot more on foot – when you're working all the time you just get on with your job.
"I remember it was very cold and there was lots of snow, but it was nothing like the winter of 1962/63.
"That one was for real men and real women – '87 was a freeze for snowflakes.
"If we had something like that now, I think society would come to an utter halt. We're totally reliant on shopping out of town and relying on mail order.
"We've made ourselves more fragile as a society."
While the snow finally relented on January 14, Kent was gripped by the big freeze for about 10 days.
The snow only began to properly thaw on January 18, paving the way, literally, for the county to return to some sense of normality.
But for some the impact was longer-lasting.
Herne Bay Junior School was forced to shut for almost a month because its toilets remained frozen.
Lower temperatures have not been recorded in Kent since, but the January of 1987 was not as cold as the winters of 1947 and 1963.