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White Christmas? Widespread snow 'unlikely', says University of Reading expert

Most of the UK should avoid snow on December 25 as milder conditions look set to stay, according to a University of Reading weather expert.

After the coldest week since 2010 was recorded at the University of Reading’s Atmospheric Observatory last week, in which temperatures of below -5.0°C were observed on four days in a row, conditions have significantly warmed up.

Temperatures reached 12°C in the early hours of Monday, December 19, at Reading’s Observatory with the mild weather continuing this week and through to Christmas Day, according to Met Office forecasts for London.

There is unlikely to be snow in Newbury this Christmas
There is unlikely to be snow in Newbury this Christmas

Dr Peter Inness, of the University of Reading’s Meteorology Department, said: “For the Christmas period, widespread snow appears unlikely and it looks like we're going to stay very much in this milder air up until Christmas.

“The North of Britain could have some much colder weather coming in on Christmas Day itself, so if there is going to be any snow on Christmas Day in the UK, it's going to be somewhere in the North – Scotland, Northern Ireland or the North of England.

“But in general, it's staying warmer. So southern Britain doesn’t look like it's going to get any snow over Christmas.”

Dr Inness said the cold weather last week was due to north-easterly wind coming from colder regions such as the Arctic, Scandinavia and Siberia.

The weather expert said cold spells such as the one the UK experienced last week are likely to become less frequent as global temperatures are set to continue to rise in the long-term.

He added: “Even though on average, the climate is set to get warmer, we still get weather, which is variability of the climate on a short-term basis – such as the cold spells like we had last week.

"In a warmer world scenario, what will happen is that cold snaps like these will probably be fewer and further between.

"When we do get cold spells like that, they will probably be not as extreme as they were in the past.

"Think back to the really cold winter of 1962-63.

"There was a cold spell then that lasted almost three months, when the temperatures were similar to what we had last week.

"We're probably not going to see winters like that again. So when we do get the cold spells, it will be a week or two weeks at most.”

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