Forecasters have given an update on the possibility of a white Christmas in the UK for 2023.
Hopes of festive snow appeared to be slim last week as experts had said there is 'very little sign' of widespread wintry weather over Christmas. The UK is even forecast to see an unseasonably warm December overall, with cities including Newcastle, Plymouth, Liverpool and Sheffield set to see temperatures of 12c or 13c in the early part of this week.
However, there are also weather warnings in place for later this week, with warnings for strong wind in place for the whole of Scotland, north of England and parts of eastern England from Thursday 21 December. Now in their latest update, the Met Office has revealed the likelihood of snow for parts of Britain on Monday 25 December.
The Met Office has forecast 'unsettled' weather generally leading to the weekend before Christmas.
Forecasters predicted a chance of 'wintry showers' in northern parts of the UK at the end of this week and on Saturday and Sunday. They also clarified, however, that any snow which does arrive is unlikely to settle, with few signs of 'widespread or severe' sub-zero weather.
The long term forecast for 22 December onwards by the Met Office currently states: "By the Christmas period, a chance of a colder, showery interlude with northerly winds potentially bringing some snowfall, mainly across hills in the north. However, this colder interlude could be short-lived, and may not reach the far south before a milder Atlantic, westerly flow, becomes re-established."
The Met Office's extended forecast also suggests the potential for snow towards the end of 2023, but these predictions are subject to change. For most of Britain, it is expected that people will experience a wet, but milder Christmas day.
Describing possible weather from Christmas day onwards, forecasters added: "This pattern most probable towards New Year's Eve, with the majority of cloud and rain likely across the west, and drier and brighter conditions more probable in the east."
What has the Met Office said about Christmas Day?
The Met Office said it expects 'wintry showers' and 'colder conditions' across the north and rural areas for Christmas - but stated on 18 December that while this could technically lead to a white Christmas, it's likely to only be frost on the ground and a few snowflakes in the air.
Met Office Deputy Chief Meteorologist, Helen Caughey, said: "As we begin Christmas Day wintry showers initially feeding in across the north in the colder air mass would technically make it a white Christmas, as we only need to see a single flake falling. Elsewhere, while it is likely at first to be mostly dry there is the potential for rain approaching from the west later on.
"As this moves east, we may see rain turning to snow, at least over high ground. It’s unlikely that we will see widespread or settling snow giving any proper accumulations. Although technically it might be a white Christmas, don’t get your hopes up for a picture-perfect white landscape."
How does the Met Office measure a white Christmas?
Although it is too early for the Met Office to give a forecast for Christmas Day, Maxey did offer some hope for those wishing for snow on the 25 December.
“When many people think of a white Christmas they are thinking of a complete covering of snow, however, the definition used most widely is for a single snowflake to be observed falling in the 24 hours of 25 December.”
In the past, the Met Office used a single location in the country to define a white Christmas, which was its own building in London. However, because of the increase in betting on a white Christmas, the number of locations has increased and includes sites such as Buckingham Palace, Belfast International Airport, Pittodrie Stadium in Aberdeen, Edinburgh Castle, Coronation Street in Manchester and the Principality Stadium in Cardiff.
How likely is a white Christmas?
The Met Office said that snow falls "somewhere" in the UK on more Christmas Days than not. Since 1960, about half of the years have seen at least 5% of the UK record snow falling on Christmas Day.
Despite this, widespread snow on the ground on Christmas Day is very rare, with it only being reported four times since 1960 — in 1981, 1995, 2009 and 2010. The Met Office said wintry weather is much more likely in early January than at Christmas.
In fact, earlier this year, the UK's big deluge of snow came in March.
When was the last white Christmas?
Technically, this was in 2021, with 6% of weather stations recording snow falling, but less than 1% of stations reported any snow lying on the ground.
The previous year, 2020, was also a white Christmas, but only 4% of stations reported any snow lying on the ground. The last widespread white Christmas in the UK was in 2010, with snow on the ground at 83% of stations, the highest percentage ever recorded.
In 2009, 57% of weather stations reported snow lying on the ground.
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