With Ian Currie
Don’t bet on festive snow
It’s that time again! Bookmakers are hoping for a mild south-westerly, but our houses are full of cards depicting snow and ice, and more thana few people would like a decent cover on Christmas Day. There certainly was more chance for good King Wenceslas to look out on snow deep and crisp and even’. He was a 10th-century Duke of Bohemia in what is now the Czech Republic, where winter temperatures average below freezing, so snow there is a more typical occurrence.
The association of snow with Christmas cards was most likely fostered by Charles Dickens, with his description of a snowy yuletide in his book Piclcwick Papers. It was based on the very chilly and snowy Christmas of1830, when the temperature fell below -14C (7F) in the English Midlands and -13C in Surrey.
Unless you live 300 metres (1,000 feet) above sea level in central and northern Scotland, where snow can lie for over 60 days per year, snow is a very elusive phenomenon. The south east sees it lying on average for five to seven days a year away from the hills, while Birmingham has 15 days. However the UK’s highest peak, Ben Nevis, at 1,344 metres (4,406 feet) exceeds 200 days.
Just a flake is needed to land on the local weather centre’s roof to count as a white Christmas, but even when the ground is thickly covered, as in 2010, it didn’t count if you had placed a bet, as it has to fall on the 25th. During an average year snow may be seen to fall away from the hills on only about
10 to 20 days in the south of England and 30 to 35 days in the north of Scotland. The frequency is greatest later in the winter and early spring – Christmas is not a snowy time!
Visit Ian Currie’s website at www.frostedearth.com
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