November is drawing to a close and temperatures are starting to drop, the thoughts of many Britons inevitably turn to Christmas and whether the country will finally see the legendary blankets of snow that we promise each year on a million greeting cards, but which rarely actually occur.
Our obsession with this phenomenon cannot be blamed solely on Charles Dickens, who portrayed an unforgettable snowy Christmas in The Pickwick Papers and “A Christmas Carol,” as it did regularly between 1550 and 1850, when Britain was hit by a “Little Ice Age” and temperatures were so low that it was still possible to hold a “Frost Fair” on the frozen surface of the Thames in London in the winter of 1813/14.
Bing Crosby’s famous song “White Christmas” from the 1954 film of the same name, which was first groaned by the American pop singer Holiday Inn, has undoubtedly also played an important role in anchoring the idea in the popular imagination, its association of longing for winter snow with grief over losing one’s youth is an irresistibly poignant and universal theme.
So what about our outlook for 2021?
Well, the latest forecast from the Met Office suggests Arctic winds could push temperatures below zero in southern England next week, which in turn could bring in early snow, a promising omen.
Scotland, meanwhile, could see the white stuff start falling as early as Thursday, at least on higher ground.
“Several shots of arctic air are en route to the UK later this week as the jet stream dips south and brings in much colder and wetter weather,” the institution tweeted. “Strong winds can lead to disruptions up to the weekend, whereby snow is possible in places.”
As for a White Christmas, it’s too early to predict with confidence, but interestingly The mirror reports that the current level of uncertainty is such that the Met Office and the BBC are “at war” on this issue and their respective predictions are conflicting.
While the former predicts months with only mild weather, “consistent with a warming climate,” the latter, which gets its information from private contractor Data Transmission Network, says the UK is on the verge of being hit by a freezer.
“It’s a meteorological chaos with a lot of disagreement about what happens in the coming months,” former weatherman John Hammond, who has worked for both sides, told the tabloid.
“These are completely different forecasts and they cannot both be correct. This has a huge impact on customers such as government, the energy sector, the media, and a host of other industries. One of the big boys is asked to step back. Who will blink first? “
Who in fact.
The fact is, the weather on Christmas Day has been incredibly changeable for decades, with the coldest temperature ever recorded in the British Isles being a staggering -18.3 ° C, which, according to the Met Office, hit Gainford in Durham in 1878.
In contrast, the warmest temperature of 15.6 ° C recorded in 1920 in Killerton, Devon was the warmest.
The deepest snow ever seen on Christmas morning was 47 cm long snow recorded in 1981 at Kindrogan in Perthshire, Scotland.
As the Met Office suggested in its recent statement on the issue, climate change means higher temperatures over land and sea, which would suggest that the likelihood of a white Christmas in the UK by Dec.
But there is cause for hope: “The natural variability of the weather will not stop cold and snowy winters in the future either. In fact, there was only one year (1980) between 1971 and 1992, while there were six such cases between 1993 and 2004.
The yardstick for deciding that a white Christmas occurred was formerly a lone snowflake that fell on the Met Office operations center in London, but since the service was relocated to Exeter in September 2006, the phenomenon is now officially confirmed when even a single snowflake will be spotted falling at any one of the UK’s 12 major airports at any time within the 24 hours of December 25th.
Tech-wise, the last White Christmas in the UK took place on December 25, 2017, when 11 percent of UK weather stations reported snowfall, even though none of it had settled on the ground.
In 2015 we saw flurries of snow on the ground, but the last really significant and widespread flood came in 2010, the coldest December in a century, when 83 percent of weather stations reported flakes on the sidewalk.
Bookmaker William Hill, who bases its calculations on information from Exacta Weather, says Leeds-Bradford Airport, which is the highest in the UK at 700 feet above sea level, has the best chance of snow on Christmas Day, along with Edinburgh and Glasgow, and currently has the best chance of snow Offers odds of 3/1 for all three locations.
Expecting the coldest winter since 2010, the bookmaker says the odds of snow falling in Liverpool are now 7/2 and 4/1 for Newcastle, Birmingham and Manchester.
Belfast is on 9/2, London City Airport on 6/1, while Dublin, Bristol and Cardiff are on 8/1.
Rupert Adams, a spokesman for William Hill, said: “It appears that this latest cold snap arrived on time and is part of a larger narrative that is likely to take place by the big day.
“The strongest La Nina weather phenomenon since 2010 should result in a much colder winter than normal. And with every week that goes by, the arguments for a white Christmas become more convincing. “
Ladbrokes is also offering odds on a winter wonderland in 2021, with spokesman Alex Apati said: “Many players will dream of a white Christmas this year, and the odds suggest they can do their thing, with 2/1 being offered for anyone Part of the UK to wake up to snow on December 25th. “
Keep on dreaming.