How likely is a White Christmas?
We can accurately forecast if snow is likely on any given Christmas Day up to five days beforehand. In terms of the statistical likelihood of snow based on climatology, we know that a snowflake has fallen somewhere in the UK on Christmas Day 38 times in the last 54 years, so we can probably expect more than half of all Christmas Days to be a ‘White Christmas’.
However the more Dickensian scenes of a widespread snow lying on the ground on Christmas Day is much rarer. There has only been a widespread covering of snow on the ground (where more than 40% of stations in the UK reported snow on the ground at 9am) four times in the last 51 years.
When was the last White Christmas?
The last widespread White Christmas in the UK was in 2010. It was extremely unusual, as not only was there snow on the ground at 83% of stations – the highest amount ever recorded – but snow or sleet also fell at 19% of stations.
We also had a White Christmas in 2009 when 13% of stations recorded snow or sleet falling, and 57% reported snow lying on the ground.