Will Leeds get a white Christmas in 2019? Here are the odds of snow this festive season

Drawing upon his fond childhood memories of snow-filled festivities, Charles Dickens' classic tales gave birth to the enticing idea of the “white Christmas”.

By Ross McIndoe
Friday, 20th December 2019, 9:00 am

Christmas songs like Bing Crosby's “white Christmas” and Dean Martin's “Let It Snow” later cemented the idea of snow-covered streets as the ideal seasonal setting.

Years of Christmas movies, TV specials and Coca Cola ad campaigns featuring great heaps of white stuff have also contributed to the idea, to the point where the prospect of a “white Christmas” is now anticipated with excitement by kids and big kids each year.

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Picture: Shutterstock

So how likely is it Leeds will get a white Christmas this year? Here are the facts behind the fiction, according to the Met Office.

What qualifies as a “white Christmas”?

While we might think of a “white Christmas” as a day where every surface is covered in six inches of snow, the official measure is a lot more forgiving.

By the Met Office's standards, if a single snowflake is found to fall during the 24 hour period of Christmas Day, it can be termed a “white Christmas.”

Picture: Shutterstock

Originally, the Met Office building in London was the only site used to monitor for snow at Christmas. However, as more and more people have taken to placing bets on the subject, the number of locations used has increased to include places like Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Cardiff.

Data from stations around the UK is also analysed to provide a complete report on everywhere snow fell or lay on Christmas Day.

How often does Leeds get a “white Christmas”?

A true Dickensian “white Christmas” of widespread snow has never been a common occurrence in Leeds or anywhere else in the UK.

Picture: Shutterstock

There has only been widespread snow covering the ground across the UK (as in being reported by more than 40% of stations) four times in the last 51 years.

When was the last white Christmas?

The last real, Hallmark Movie-quality “white Christmas” came back in 2010 when 83% of the UK's stations reported snow lying on the ground during Christmas Day. This was the most ever recorded in the UK.

Oddly, this was actually the second “white Christmas” in a row – 2009 saw 57% of stations reporting snow on the ground.

Scotland holds the honour of having experienced the whitest Christmas in the UK's recorded history when 47cm of snow fell on the Christmas Day of 1981.

Technically, 2015 was also one as 10% of UK stations reported snow falling during Christmas Day but there were no reports at all of it lying.

Will there be a white Christmas this year?

The Met Office doesn’t think so.

The forecast is for an uneventful day of weather, with a mixture of cloudy and clear skies throughout the day and nothing much in the way of wind or precipitation.

In truth, the UK is actually a lot more likley to get snow nearer the start of the year than around Christmas time.