When was the last white Christmas in the UK? Date it last snowed on Christmas Day - and this year’s forecast

By Helen Johnson
Saturday, 18th December 2021, 4:41 pm
Updated Saturday, 18th December 2021, 4:46 pm
Traditionally, the Met Office used to use a single location in the country to define a white Christmas (Photo: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Traditionally, the Met Office used to use a single location in the country to define a white Christmas (Photo: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

You may be dreaming of a white Christmas this festive period, but when did one last occur in the UK and could there be one this year?

Here’s what you need to know.

What is a white Christmas?

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The Met Office defines a white Christmas as one snowflake being observed falling in the 24 hours of 25 December somewhere in the UK.

Traditionally, the Met Office used to use a single location in the country to define a white Christmas, which was the Met Office building in London.

However, with the increase in betting on where will see a white Christmas, the number of locations increased and can now include sites such as Buckingham Palace, Belfast (Aldergrove Airport), Aberdeen (Pittodrie Stadium, Aberdeen FC), Edinburgh (Castle), Coronation Street in Manchester and the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

The Met Office also analyses the data from its observing stations around the UK to provide a complete picture of where snow has fallen or was lying on Christmas Day.

When was the last white Christmas?

Last year was technically the last white Christmas in the UK, with 6% of weather stations recorded snow falling and 4% of stations reporting any snow lying on the ground.

However, there was no record of snow falling at any station in the UK in 2018, or in 2019.

Prior to this, 2017 saw 11% of weather stations recording snow falling but none reported any snow lying on the ground.

This was also the case in 2016, when 6% of stations recorded falling snow, and in 2015, when 10% of stations saw snow.

The last widespread white Christmas in the UK took place in 2010.

The Met Office said: “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.”

There was also a white Christmas in 2009, when 13% of stations recorded snow or sleet falling, and 57% reported snow lying on the ground.

Could there be a white Christmas this year?

The Met Office said there is an increasing chance the high pressure will move allowing for more unsettled and windier weather to affect the UK with rain, and perhaps snow, possible for some places.

Met Office Expert Meteorologist, Dan Rudman, said: “There is still a lot of uncertainty in the forecast for the Christmas period. Whilst there is certainly a risk of wintry conditions for many places, other outcomes are still possible such as warmer air to move across the UK bringing rain widely with any potential snow being restricted to higher ground and the far north.

“We will continue to keep an eye on developments over the coming days and update as the level of certainty increases.”

According to Oddschecker, it’s currently 4/9 odds for snow in Aberdeen on Christmas Day, 6/4 for snow in Newcastle and 5/2 for a white Christmas in Edinburgh.