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A Winter's Tale

White Christmases Of The Past

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Hi all and I'd like to know what caused White Christmases in past years and how did it reflect on the winter. i.e what caused the White Christmas of 2004 and 2000 and did the snow cover last long?

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sounds a very good idea for you to have a look at the charts from those times and explain it to us?

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When was the last time we had a widespread white Christmas? I seem to remember either 1995 or 1996 there was a light covering around. 2009 there was a few patches left over from the mid December snowfall.

White Christmas of 2004 was due to a transient Northerly cold snap;

Rrea00120041225.gif

No snow for the south but it was notablly cold. Dropped to -3.7c on Boxing day morning with a very white frost. This quickly toppled soon after;

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December 2004 was fairly average at 5.3c (0.2c above normal) but fairly mild for recent years.

December 2000 had an exceptionally warm first half - warmest since 1986 but cold second half - coldest since 1996. Fairly mild overall at 5.8c

An very cold spell between the 23rd and 30th with major blocking not seen again until 2008. Very cold North Easterlys from Scandinavia brought snow to the east and some local record low maxima;

Rrea00120001225.gif

Not all that widespread but it was notable at the time. Here's a ITV National weather forecast recorded soon after;

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Remember christmas day 2004 very well, we saw a couple of inches of snow on the big day thanks to the NNW flow. It stuck around through boxing day after a sharp frost, but quickly dissapeared on the 27th. Thereafter we saw very mild air through to the new year.

Christmas 2000 was very different, christmas day was cold and frosty but with no snow on the ground, overnight on the 27th/28th we saw 4 inches which stuck around until new years day, the nights of the 28th, 29th and 30th were very cold and we saw three/four ice days on the trot. It was our coldest spell of weather between jan 97 and dec 2009, beating late dec 2008 and early jan 2009.

2001 delivered some light snow showers at times on christmas day. Dec 25 2009 saw some light snow during the night. Dec 25 1981 saw widespread deep snow cover but no snow falling on the day. Snow falling on christmas day has been a rarity in the past 30-40 years.

If I had to say what has been the best christmas day weatherwise in my lifetime (i'm only 32) it has to be last year with 1995 a close second beating 2004 which has been the only christmas day with any notable snow falling.

Edited by damianslaw

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In Cleadon, Tyne & Wear, the most impressive white Christmas of the last two decades was definitely the 1995 one- a brief northerly on the 20th was followed by a temporary milder incursion and then a return of the polar air. A polar low brought a couple of hours of snowfall on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day had heavy snow showers within about 5-10 miles of the east coast, which merged at times to give longer outbreaks of snow. There was a general 2-3 inch covering.

Christmas Day 1993 had snow showers from midmorning onwards and these gave an inch on the ground in the evening, and surprisingly the wind picking up off the North Sea did not turn the showers back to sleet/rain (we didn't get another example of that happening this side of Christmas until the last two winters- 18 Dec 2009 & the recent record-breaking north-easterly outbreak- presumably Christmas 1993 was helped by unusually low SSTs in the North Sea following the exceptionally cold autumn as the Christmas outbreak wasn't actually all that cold).

Christmas Day 2009 was also snow-covered but not as memorable, there was no snow on the day itself and the snow cover was bordering on the "solid ice" stage following a couple of thaws and refreezes on the 23rd/24th. I also observed flurries of wet snow on Christmas Day there in 1996, 1999 and 2001, but it didn't settle on any of those occasions.

2004 was frustrating- I was doing a degree at Lancaster University and was at Cleadon for the Christmas holiday, 25 Dec 2004 was a dry clear frosty day at Cleadon while Lancaster had its only notable snowfall of the entire 2004/05 winter resulting in a white Christmas similar to the one Cleadon had in 1993, snow showers started up around mid-morning and gave about an inch on the ground by the evening.

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Dec 25th is the only date between Dec 20 and Jan 15 inclusive that has never had lying snow (by the official definition) at 0900 here since 1987. In 2004 it did fall and settle, but not until about 7pm. Lasted till about midday on the 27th, then it was non-stop mild muck till the prolonged but ultimately disappointing easterly of late Feb/early Mar 2005 (when it often snowed but never settled for more than a few hours, due I believe to the almost total lack of frost in Jan and early Feb warming the ground).

2009 after days of it snowing everywhere but here, we finally picked up a cm or so on the evening of Dec 23rd that stuck around long enough to make the 24th count, but most of it disappeared in the evening/overnight.

New Years Day by contrast has had lying snow 3 times since then (1996, 1997 and 2002).

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