Boxing Day Snow

  • People push a car in snowy conditions in the Crookes area of Sheffield on Saturday December 27, 2014. Picture by: Tom White/PA Wire.

    People playing in the snow in Buxton as wintry weather swept the UK, with travellers left stranded as heavy snow covered roads and forced two airports to close. 27 December 2014. Picture by: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire.

    Snow covered houses in Buxton as wintry weather swept the UK. 27 December 2014. Picture by: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire

  • Boxing Day Snow
    27.12.2014 14:23

    It may not have been a white Christmas but a spell of snow affected parts of England and Wales on Boxing Day bringing misery for some but delight to others. Throughout Christmas week there had been great uncertainty with regards to the track and intensity of a depression which was predicted to move close to the British Isles. Originally the depression was forecast to track to the north of the UK but by mid-week it became apparent that the system was going to take a more southerly track.


    The exact track and intensity of the low was crucially important in determining which parts of the UK could expect to see a spell of snow or rain and where would see the highest winds.

    On Christmas Day the low pressure was still a shallow depression to the west of Ireland but early on Boxing Day the system tracked towards Ireland and began to deepen.  

    A spell of rain and sleet affected Ireland through the morning and afternoon with just a little snow over the hills. As the low deepened further and tracked into Wales and north-western England it encountered colder air and combined with the intensity of the precipitation caused a spell of heavy snow to affect parts of northern Wales, the north Midlands and northwest England. The precipitation rate was quite high resulting in the snow accumulating very quickly. The highest official snowfall depth was record at Leek Thorncliffe, Staffordshire with 12 centimeters (5 inches) of lying snow by 11pm on Boxing Day.

    The deepening depression tracked quickly southeast during the early hours of Saturday the 27th with its centre near 990hPa at 6am; the storm had deepened by over 30hPa in just 24 hours. As the storm exited south-eastern England some strong wind gusts were recorded with a gust to 67mph recorded at Langdon Bay, Kent at 7am. The storm then tracked into northern France with a gust to 76mph recorded at Cap Gris Nez in the Pas-de-Calais region in north-eastern France.

    The depression brought disruption to infrastructure across parts of the UK. Liverpool Airport and Leeds Bradford Airport were briefly closed on Friday evening as the runways were cleared of snow. Dozens of coach passengers and motorists were stranded in Yorkshire as heavy snows caused the roads to become impassable. Around 2,000 homes were without electricity across the East Midlands on Saturday morning. The worst affected areas were Yorkshire, Staffordshire and Chesire.

    On the continent high winds caused the closure of Calais ferry port in north-eastern France and the suspension of services between Britain and France as high winds and heavy rain lashed the region.

    Notable facts:

    -    Highest snowfall depth: Leek Thorncliffe, Staffordshire, 12cm (5 inches).
    -    Strongest winds: 67mph recorded at Langdon Bay, Kent.
    -    Storm depth: 990hPa, off the Kent coast at 7am.


    Over the coming days the weather is set to become more settled. Wintry showers will continue to affect places at times tonight but will become isolated by Sunday morning. It will then be largely dry across the UK for the next few days with lots of sunshine, however it will be cold with sharp frosts by night and the risk of freezing fog forming in places. Current indications suggest it will begin to turn more unsettled towards the end of next week with temperatures recovering to around average across the UK.

    By: Matthew Martin