SNOW and ice appeared in the coldest January in Dorchester and Weymouth for more than 20 years. Town weathermen John Oliver and Bob Poots said it was cold but also sunny at the start of 2010. Mr Oliver said the county town experienced its coldest January in 23 years.

Daytime temperatures were 3.1C below average at 4.6C, while the average night temperature of –0.8C was 3.3 degrees below average.

Throughout the cold snap in the first two weeks of the month, temperatures failed to rise above 5C, and for three consecutive days from January 7 to January 9 temperatures remained below freezing.

The coldest day of the month was January 4, with a maximum temperature of –0.4C, while the mercury reached as low as –10C the following day.

Mr Oliver added: “Although south Dorset missed out on the heavy snow that blanketed nearly all of southern England, there was a 2-3cm fall on January 6 that, due to the extremely low temperatures, survived for six days.”

The second half of the month was less severe, with alternating cold and milder periods. The mildest day was January 16, with the maximum temperature up at 9.7C, and the mildest night was January 22, at seven degrees Celsius. Frost was recorded on 17 nights last month – the highest total for any month since February 1996, while rain fell on 14 days.

The total month’s rainfall of 95.7mm represents 87 per cent of the January average.

Mr Poots, Weymouth and Portland Borough Council weatherman, said there was snow and sleet on January 6, and hail on January 5.

He said: “While the surrounding part of the county and indeed most of the country suffered with heavy falls of snow, Weymouth as usual had a virtually snow-free month.

“However it was the coldest January with regard to maximum daily temperatures since 1997, and the lowest average minimum and mean temperatures since 1987.”

The first 10 days of the new year were dry except for the snowfall and on January 6 and 7. Sunshine was well above average.