LAST week’s snow and ice came as a shock at the end of another mild south coast winter.

The weather event dubbed the “Beast from the East” caused the kind of disruption that people will remember for a long time.

But how does it compare with previous cold snaps to hit Dorset and Hampshire?

In the spring of 1908, the UK was hit by one of its strangest weather vents of the century. Many parts of southern England had heavy snow for four days, from April 23-26, while further north, the UK saw some of its lowest ever temperatures.

After that, snow was practically unknown in the UK for several years, until some of the south west saw falls of up to 14 inches in 1916 and 1917.

The winter of 1962-63 saw a big freeze that began with a December blizzard and lasted until March. January 1963 was the coldest month of the 20th century.

On January 1, more than 50 Bournemouth corporation workmen failed to report for duty because of exhaustion. Fourteen inches of snow had fallen within days, and people were out of work because building projects had ground to a halt.

In February, a snowdrift 8ft deep cut off several North Dorset villages.

February 1978 brought the heaviest snow since the big freeze of 1962-63. Snowfall on February 15 was followed by gales and blizzards on February 18, with at least six inches of snow in most of Dorset and areas cut off by drifts.

In December 1981, some parts of the south saw 12 inches of snow, while January 1982 saw 1-2ft of snow and very cold temperatures.

In January 1985, several inches of snow fell in many areas, while Poole Park Lake was frozen solid and many schools were closed. January 1987 saw Dorset miss the worst of the widespread snowfall, but the area was scattered with white.

The 21st century has seen a succession of mild winters, but in 2009 more than 100 local schools closed as snow fell. The A338 Spur Road was closed after a gritting run failed to prevent a series of collisions, causing chaos on other roads.

The snow and ice of March 1-2 this year was brief, but hugely disruptive.

Jim Smith, who collects weather records at Springbourne, recorded the longest unbroken spell of frost locally since the first week of 1997.

He added: “What made this spell remarkable was the wind. In 22 years of records, I’ve never recorded windchill as low as this – minus 13.2C. For comparison, you need to look at January 1987, which produced lower temperatures and windchill than we experienced last week.”