Will we have a white Christmas is the question everyone is asking now that we've seen the first snowfall this winter.
After a plunge in temperatures across the UK, many had been asking when will it snow (opens in new tab) and how cold does it have to be for schools to close (opens in new tab) - because in the short days leading up to winter solstice (opens in new tab) there's nothing like a good old snow day and a few Christmas jokes (opens in new tab) to get us all in the Christmas spirit.
Now, the question has been answered as many areas across the country have seen snowfall in recent days. And with the dusting taking place right in the middle of the festive period, the question that remains is will we have a white Christmas in the UK?
Will we have a white Christmas in the UK in 2022?
Both the Met Office (opens in new tab) and some independent weather forecasters have suggested that there is a good chance we will see snow in the UK on Christmas Day.
Jim Dale (opens in new tab), meteorologist for British Weather Services, has told the Express (opens in new tab): "Although this is an emerging story, the run-up to Christmas now shows the best scenario for a widespread White Christmas since 2010/11."
📉 It has turned MUCH warmer over the last day or so, but there are signs that this milder spell may be brief, with colder air possibly returning in time for #Christmas - perhaps bringing #snow in placesFind out more with Alex here 👇 pic.twitter.com/fGDrlHbxLMDecember 19, 2022
James Madden, forecaster for Exacta Weather (opens in new tab) has also predicted snow on Christmas Day, saying that "the prospect for a white Christmas is high".
However, because Christmas is only at the beginning of the period when it's likely to snow, we're more likely to see snow fall between January and March than in December. The Met Office explains that snow or sleet falls for an average of 3.9 days in December in the UK, compared to 5.3 days in January, 5.6 days in February and 4.2 days in March.
The weather service adds that it can accurately forecast if snow is likely on any given Christmas Day up to five days beforehand, so we may have to wait a little longer to know for sure if 2022 will see a white Christmas.
Currently, the Met Office's long-range forecast for the period of Saturday 24 December to Monday 2 January predicts "wintry showers and increased risk of more significant snow in the north, and milder conditions with rain and showers in the south". They add: "Eventually, as we head towards the New Year, the colder conditions are more likely to come to dominate, with wintry showers in the north and potential for a more settled spell to develop. This would bring below average temperatures, potential for areas of freezing fog with widespread overnight frosts, and very low temperatures given any snow cover."
White Christmas odds 2022
According to Online Betting Guide (opens in new tab) (OLBG), the odds of a white Christmas in 2022 have recently strengthened from 2/1 to 4/5 - meaning a 55% chance of seeing a white Christmas this year.
OLBG white Christmas betting odds:
- Glasgow, Edinburgh - 9/2
- Newcastle - 5/1
- Birmingham, Belfast - 11/2
- Leeds - Bradford, London, Manchester - 6/1
- Bristol - 7/1
- Cardiff - 15/2
The Met Office says, "since 1960, around half of the years have seen at least 5% of the network record snow falling on Christmas Day. This means we can probably expect more than half of all Christmas Days to be a 'white Christmas'." Suggesting the odds of seeing a white Christmas somewhere in the UK in 2022 are around 50%.
How much snow must fall for a white Christmas?
The definition that the Met Office uses to define a white Christmas is for one snowflake to be observed falling in the 24 hours of 25 December somewhere in the UK.
This is a different criteria to in other areas of the world. For example, in the US there must be a snow depth of at least one inch on the ground for it to be considered a white Christmas.
Will there be a white Christmas in London in 2022?
The chances of a white Christmas in London are generally lower than the rest of the UK, as the urban capital has a higher temperature than other areas of the UK.
World Atlas (opens in new tab) says data from the Met Office has shown "on average, the central parts of London experience less than 10 days of snow or sleet every year...for the few days that it snows in the central parts of London, the snow rarely settles since it melts away extremely fast."
However, the capital has recently seen a good blanket of snow in the lead up to Christmas 2022, so it's possible this year will see a white Christmas is the city. Some snow also fell in London in the lead up to Christmas 2021, and the capital experienced heavy snow along with the rest of the UK during the 'Beast from the East' in February 2018.
When was the last white Christmas?
According to the Met Office, 2021 was the last white Christmas in the UK with 6% of stations recording snow falling - though less than 1% of stations reported any snow lying on the ground.
2020 also saw 6% of weather stations recording snow falling, and 2017 saw 11% of weather stations recording snow falling, but none reported any snow lying on the ground. 2016 and 2015 also saw some snow fall in the UK on Christmas Day.
However, many consider 2010 to be the last white Christmas in the UK, as it was the last time widespread snow was recorded. 83% of stations (the highest amount ever recorded) reported snow on the ground that year.
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Ellie joined Goodto as a Junior Features Writer in 2022 after finishing her Master’s in Magazine Journalism at Nottingham Trent University. Previously, she completed successful work experience placements with BBC Good Food, The Big Issue and the Nottingham Post, and freelanced as an arts and entertainment writer alongside her studies. In 2021, Ellie graduated from Cardiff University with a first-class degree in Journalism.
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