When was the last white Christmas in London?
The UK is facing freezing temperatures this week, with snow and ice warnings in place for parts of the country.
With Christmas almost upon us, many of us will be hoping to see Big Ben covered in white on the big day.
But when was the last time that London had a white Christmas? And what is the likelihood that we will get one this year?
Here is all you need to know.
When did London last have a white Christmas?
According to the The Met Office, a white Christmas is officially recorded whenever a snowflake falls on Christmas day.
The most recent time this happened was in 2021, with 2020 and 2017 also being classed white Christmases.
However, the capital hasn’t seen a white Christmas for over 20 years.
Applying the snowflake definition above, London has technically had six white Christmases since 1960: 1964, 1968, 1970, 1976, 1996 and 1999.
In the UK, snow is more like to fall in January and February than in December with snow or sleet falling an average of 3.9 days in December – compared to over five days in January and February.
However, white Christmases in London have not always been so rare.
According to the Met Office “winters were particularly persistent and severe” from 1550-1850, as Britain (and the entire Northern hemisphere) was going through what is now known as the Little Ice Age.
This is why we see such harsh descriptions of winter in the novels of Charles Dickens, such as in A Christmas Carol.
During this time snowfall was common and the river Thames would even completely freeze over, meaning that people could ice skate on it.
Football pitches, bowling matches, fruit-sellers, shoemakers and even barbers were also set up on the ice, in what was known as Frost Fairs – can you imagine that happening now?
Is London likely to see a white Christmas this year?
The bookies are seemingly optimistic about the chances of a white Christmas in the UK this year.
Alex Apati of Ladbrokes said: ‘White Christmas punters look set to get their wish this year, if the latest odds are anything to go by.”
Ladbrokes have currently put the odds of snow to fall anywhere in the UK on December 25 at 11/10
However, the odds of snow in London on the big day itself are lower, at 8/1 – with the likes of Aberdeen and Edinburgh at a much more promising 7/2
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