Hackneyed headline - dreaming of a white Christmas?

  • The European robin, a favourite subject for Christmas card designers. Photo: David Jones/PA Wire

    Snow on fields near Brough, Cumbria. Photo: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

    "Snow Angel"... snow surrounds the Angel of the North in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear. Photo: Owen Humphreys /PA Wire

    The Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square, London -- an annual gift from Norway's capital, Oslo. Photo: Sean Dempsey/PA Wire

  • Hackneyed headline - dreaming of a white Christmas?
    16.12.2011 15:12


    Although there has been some snow around, and a good few centimetres of slushy stuff over some high ground, this December could hardly be more unlike December 2010, when snowfall was persistent, powdery and widespread, and covered almost the entire UK.

    The weather pattern was a very different beast twelve months ago – virtually the opposite of that we presently have. At the end of 2010 there was a “blocked” set up, with high pressure from Scandinavia to Iceland and low pressure over southwest Europe.

    Contrarily this year we have tended to see vigorous low pressure systems running ENE’wards south of Iceland towards Norway, with high pressure over southwest Europe and the near Atlantic.

    Another way of putting it is to note that the ‘Atlantic Oscillation’ was negative last year and positive this year.

    This has left the UK in flows of winds from a generally westerly quarter during December, a little more southwesterly initially but then with some northwesterly blows which have made it notably chillier and brought those falls of snow. 

    The weekend will feel cold with overnight frosts and wintry showers in places, mostly the northern and western UK but with a few filtering farther south and east on the northwesterly breezes. Otherwise there will be a lot of crisp sunshine.

    Next week it looks like we are going to see a subtle change. The jet stream is due to take a path farther north, steering low pressure systems north of the British Isles while high pressure shifts eastwards into Europe and builds. This will back the average flow more west to southwesterly again and bring rather milder air across the UK. Temperatures are likely to rise into double figures in some areas.

    That is not to say that it will be completely dry. Frontal systems will drag eastwards across the country to bring occasional bands of rain but not much will get though to the south and east. We will lose the potential for the storminess that has marked certain periods during the past week, although it will still be windy at times.

    At a stretch we can start to take a peek at what the weather might offer us at Christmas. Temperatures may moderate through the festive period but there is no sign of the sort of cold and snowy festive period looked forward to by traditionalists and so beloved of greetings card designers.

    A White Christmas? Probably not for most of us. Aside from frost in a few places after Christmas Day it will more likely be a green one.

    By: Stephen Davenport