19 Dec 2014

The year that we didn’t have to dream about snow at Christmas

With Christmas now less than a week away, there are lots of you asking me on Twitter and Facebook whether or not there’ll be any snow on Christmas day this year.

Whilst the weather is still looking a little uncertain, as I wrote in my blog last week, it looks as though any snow on Christmas day will be confined to the hills and mountains of Scotland.

The news of a white Christmas being unlikely this year will bring disappointment for some, yet joy for others – depending on if you have much travelling to do during the festive period, of course.

london_snow_g_wp

Even though the white stuff will be in short supply this year, we don’t have to look too far back to find a Christmas that delivered the goods.

Christmas 2010 – a snow fest

In 2010, the UK had its coldest December on record, in records that stretch back to 1910.

The mean temperature (an average of day and night temperatures) was -1C, well below the average of 4.2C and beating the 0.1C set in the previous coldest December back in 1981.

Throughout the month, a blocking area of high pressure meant that we had some exceptionally cold and snowy weather, with parts of Scotland and north east England having more than 50cm of snow on the ground at times.

Bitter cold was also a notable feature, with overnight temperatures regularly falling to between -10 and -20C.

The cold weather lasted into Christmas too, with snow falling at 19 per cent of weather stations on Christmas day.

Even more remarkable, was that 83 per cent of weather stations had snow lying on the ground (see Nasa image below) – the highest ever recorded.

xmas_snow2010_NASA_wp

Where, statistically, is most likely to have a white Christmas?

Statistically, snow is more likely to fall between January and March than December. Sleet or snow falls on average for just five days in December, in comparison to 7.6 days in January, 6.8 days in February and six days in March.

The map below from the Met Office shows that during December, snow is more likely to fall the further north and the higher up you go. This ties in well with Belfast and Edinburgh being the capital cities with the greatest number of white Christmases since 1960 – happening 11 times.

metoffice_avgdecsnow_wp

I’ll be keeping a close eye on the weather to see if the odds of a white Christmas change in the days ahead. You can follow my festive updates on Twitter – @liamdutton

Tweets by @liamdutton

3 reader comments

  1. Ashley Haworth-roberts says:

    What happens this Sunday might set the broad pattern for the rest of the winter.
    Scenario 1 – deep depression steered east with west or northwest gales but blizzards confined to Scottish Highlands and staying mostly fairly mild further south;
    Scenario 2 – deep depression steered southeast with northeast gales and a risk of blizzards across Scotland and England too in particular and turning increasingly chilly with northeast winds and then frost.
    I suspect it will either stay mild or else some lengthy spells of cold but drier weather might set in just before the end of this year. Hard to tell which at present.

  2. Ashley Haworth-roberts says:

    I am not a professional meteorologist but I would not be surprised if blizzards set in across large parts of England and Scotland in particular around 48 hours from now ie Boxing Day evening.

  3. Ashley Haworth-roberts says:

    Well, snowfall in Staffordshire, Derbyshire and Yorkshire anyway. The depression changed course and was a little less developed than initially thought.

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