23. Dreaming of a white Christmas


Faced by a positively tropical Christmas season, and, for some, the tragic consequences of very wet weather, the prospect of a white Christmas does seem something of a distant dream. In the absence of actual snow, many people show a strange propensity for reflecting on the extremely snowy, cold, and picturesque Christmases of their youth. In a bid to resolve any potential disputes about when the good old days actually were, here are a few of the facts:

Snowiest Christmas on record: Good news for the younger generation – the snowiest Christmas on record according to the MET office was in fact 2010, although the deepest snow was in Perthshire in 1981.

Coldest winter on record: 1740. London had 39 snowy days in the winter of 1739/40, but what was even more remarkable was the mean temperature, which was below 0 degrees celsius in the midlands and southern England for a full two months. The low temperatures across this period allowed for events such as the Thames Frost Fairs, but in the absence of modern heating methods the warmer weather than spring brought must have come as a blessed relief.

Coldest twentieth-century winter: 1963, during which much of England was under snow for three months. This was fun for some, but had serious consequences for many farmers, unable to reach their livestock through the snow, and for those affected by damaged power lines. mean temperatures for much of the UK were around 5 degrees less than in previous years.

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