A technical White Christmas?

The weather in the approach to Christmas will be unsettled and often mild. Also, it will be very windy at times and there is the possibility of disruption. However, by Christmas Eve there are signs of a change to colder conditions, particularly in the northern half of the United Kingdom.
Christmas snow scene
Some UK locations may record a White Christmas
19th December 2023

Just before Christmas an area of low pressure is expected to pull away eastwards. As it moves away, colder air from the northwest will begin to push southwards and the risk of wintry showers in the northern half of the United Kingdom increases. There is uncertainty about how far southwards the colder air will extend and it is possible that milder conditions will persist in southern England on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

A technical White Christmas for some?

A technical White Christmas for a given location is defined as a single flake of snow falling within the 24 hours of 25th December. Therefore, a number of places in the United Kingdom, mostly in the north, could record a White Christmas this year. With that said, snow cover is unlikely in most of United Kingdom, with the exception of high ground in the north.

GFS forecast chart for Christmas Day 2023
Christmas Day possible rain and snow scenario

The chart above shows a computer model forecast of rain and snow in the afternoon on Christmas Day. It is only intended to give a general idea of how things may develop because the details are still uncertain. The pink shading in northern Britain indicates the possibility of wintry showers. In the south milder conditions mean that any showers which develop are more likely to fall as rain.

Weather between Christmas and the New Year

Between Christmas and the new year unsettled weather is expected to continue. Therefore, all regions can expect further showers or longer periods of rain, and strong winds. Cold snaps are more likely in the north and that is where the risk of sleet or snow is the highest. However, it is likely to be mostly reserved for high ground, although snow at lower levels is possible at times.

There will be drier interludes too as ridges of high pressure push across the United Kingdom. Nonetheless, at the moment there is no signal for a more prolonged period of settled conditions, and the risk of wet and windy spells probably continues into the start of the new year.

In addition, it looks as though temperatures will be trending close to or above the seasonal average in the southern half of United Kingdom. Colder days continue to be more likely in the north.

ECM pressure and rain forecast chart
Pressure patterns between Christmas and the New Year

The chart above shows forecast pressure patterns on 27th December. Once more, it is only intended to give an idea of the weather regime which is likely to be dominant through this period. Low pressure is centred close to the northwest of the UK and high pressure to the southwest. Weather fronts are pushing in from the Atlantic to bring an ongoing risk of rain. 


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