By Brian Gaze
As the days grow shorter and the autumn chill deepens, one of the most common questions we are asked is whether a white Christmas is on the way.
Unfortunately forecasting more than a few days ahead in the UK is prone to error because of the changeable nature of our maritime climate. Therefore, making a forecast for Christmas Day with any degree of confidence isn't possible until December is well underway.
By Nandaro (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Despite that there are some things to go on even though they may be tenuous. Seasonal computer models exist which are designed to give pointers to the weather trends. Other factors, for example the state of El Nino and long term persistence, may have a bearing on the prospects.
In addition our own Weather Analogue Index (WAI) is used to match current atmospheric patterns with those in previous years. One of the factors considered by the Will it be a white Christmas feature is whether the years which best match the current one produced cold snaps in late December.
On the rest of the site you'll find some of the best and most detailed weather forecast charts and data freely available on the internet. Nonetheless there should be some features too and with this in mind TWO begins updating its legendary Countdown to Christmas forecast on September 1st every year.
The frequency of updates increases as the big day approaches so remember to check back for the latest news.
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Models include UK Met Office UKV and MOGREPS-G, ECMWF, NCEP GFS, Meteo France Arpege and Arome.