Meteorologists say the weather patterns around the globe are leaning to the month showing a trend for higher than usual temperatures.
But Britain’s leading expert in snow has delivered a positive message to those looking for a dusting on Christmas Day - saying history shows there is around a 50 per cent likelihood of it happening. However, the question remains, will snow be lying* on the ground at Heathrow come 9am on Christmas Day, for Betfred to settle as a winner? Only time will tell...
Dr Richard Wild, the first person in the world to secure a PhD in snow trends, has delivered an all-you-need-to-know message about the white stuff to launch Betfred’s £5million Christmas Draw.
The man nicknamed Dr Snow having advised the James Bond franchise and other Hollywood films of what the weather will do, will verify if snow is lying at Heathrow Airport weather station at 9am on Christmas Day - potentially triggering Betfred making five people millionaires.
And despite the negative mood music coming out of forecasters right now, he says history tells us snowfall is more likely than is thought.
Dr Wild said: “Since 1960 around half the years have seen at least five per cent of the recording network recording snowfall on Christmas Day. We can expect more than half of Christmas Days to have snow.
“Long range forecasts are known to be inaccurate. Mostly they work on a three month average, so at the moment that looks at December to February.
“There are multiple forecasts available from organisations across the world, almost all of them are suggesting that December as a whole for the UK looks like experiencing temperatures slightly warmer than average.
“But it doesn’t mean there won’t be periods in December when it won’t be colder than normal. You may get some short sharp days where it is expected to be cold..
“The atmosphere is so complex when it comes to long-term forecasts, there are so many climate drivers that can influence our weather even if they are somewhere a long way away in other parts of the planet.”
Dr Wild studied worldwide snowfall trends between 1861-1999 for his PhD in 2005 and few are more qualified to speak on the powdery stuff - and he revealed snow is not actually white.
He added: “While snowflakes appear white as they fall or accumulate, they are in fact totally clear.
“The ice is not transparent like a sheet of glass, but translucent, meaning light passes through but not directly. The many sides of the snow crystals cause light diffusion of the whole light spectrum, which results in the snowflake appearing white in colour.
“Snow can have impurities in them, like a pollutant. We have seen pinkish snow, or a reddish colour, perhaps down to desert sand in the air.”
Dr. Richard Wild PhD
All You Need to Know about Snow
It is a one in ten chance of a widespread snowy Christmas across the UK
There are over 400 weather stations all across Britain. Widespread snowy Christmases are when perhaps over 150 of those stations record snow. That’s a one in ten, one in 15 year return.
Buckingham Palace and Coronation Street house sites which measure the weather
Traditionally we used to use a single location - the Met Office building in London. This is now closed so Buckingham Palace is used as an alternative. Belfast, Pittodrie Stadium in Aberdeen, Edinburgh Castle, Coronation Street in Manchester and the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff are other locations.
There are seven types of snowflake
Generally there are seven types of snowflake
Dendrites are what we are most familiar with, but there are also stellar flakes, plates, capped columns, columns, needles, and those classified irregular.
What is Snow
Snow is defined as solid precipitation that occurs in a variety of minute ice crystals.
Snow forms when tiny droplets of super cool water freezes as ice crystals attached to a nuclei. A nuclei can be pollen, bacteria, sea salt or volcanic ash.
Moisture can be in a mixed cloud of ice crystals and water droplets. Snow falls when tiny ice crystals stick together to form a snowflake. If enough ice crystals stick together they will become heavy enough and then fall to the ground.
The molecule ice structure of a snowflake is hexagonal, due to the one oxygen to two hydrogen atoms.
Snow can form at different temperatures and different clouds. Where they form will determine what kind of snow you are going to get.
When you have temperatures close to zero the snowflake is more complex while at temps way below zero the snowflakes are more plain.
There is a recognised fear of snow
Chionophobia, based on the Greek word for snow (chione) is used to describe the condition of being afraid of snow. It is thought the fear comes from childhood incidents, such as a child being in an accident or being hit by a snowball. The symptoms in this case are generally cold sweats or panic attacks
King George II is to blame for the reduction of snowy Christmas Days
Everyone thinks it’s going to be like those Charles Dickens images, advent calendars and snow scenes on greetings cards, but in reality since the 18th and 19th century, snowy Christmases have significantly reduced - and one of the main reasons is the Julian calendar became the Gregorian calendar in 1752. (A bill signed through Parliament by George II).
This caused Christmas Day to move 12 days earlier. Before then, Christmas Day fell on what is now January 6, and of course there is more chance of snow in January because it is further into the winter and traditionally colder.
It has snowed in June in Britain - and it doesn’t have to be near freezing to fall
In Buxton in June 1975, the cricket match between Derbyshire and Lancashire was stopped because snow fell.
There is a possibility snow can fall in any month if you get the right conditions. In this case it was a cold plunge from the Arctic. If the air is still cold enough with low humidity, snowflakes can survive well above freezing.
That’s one of the reasons you get snow falling in April showers. You see showers fall from a northerly airstream and the ground temperature might actually be many degrees above freezing. They fall in a very dry air, allowing the snowflake a greater chance to survive
Speed of Snow
Most falls of snow are between 1-5mph - this depends on the mass, size and surface area of the individual snowflake. Most people recognise dendrite snowflakes, and these tend to float down around 1.5mph so normally it would take 45 minutes to an hour to fall from the base of a cloud.
Dr Richard Wild and his team at WeatherNet will act as official verifiers for Betfred’s £5million Christmas Draw. Betfred will pay £1million to five customers if snow is lying at Heathrow Airport on the morning of Christmas Day.
The draw is available at www.betfred.com and customers have to opt in to qualify for a free entry, then any subsequent bets of £1 or more on the sportsbook, lotto draws or virtual will qualify for another entry up to a maximum of 100.
The draw will take place if snow is lying at London Heathrow Airport Weather Station at 09:00 on Christmas morning and will be verified by WeatherNet, a leading UK Independent weather analytics company.
Dr Wild is regarded as the leading expert on snow in Britain, having become the first person in the world to secure a PhD in snow trends.
He has been used as a weather advisory by more than 300 film and television production companies, including on all of the James Bond films since 2001 and a number of the Star Wars franchise productions.
*Definition of snow lying: Snow lying is measured at 09:00 UK Time on 25th December 2023 at London Heathrow Weather Station. Snow lying is determined using data and a measurement protocol provided by the MET Office and verified by WeatherNet, a leading UK independent weather analytics company.