Will Scotland get a white Christmas in 2019? When we've had snow before – and when it will snow this year

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The idea of a “White Christmas” originally comes from Charles Dickens who drew upon his fond childhood memories of snow-covered Christmases when writing many of his tales.

The idea has since been continually reinforced through Christmas songs like Bing Crosby's “White Christmas” and Dean Martin's “Let It Snow”.

The Scottish highlands are no stranger to snow, hence the fluffy coos. Picture: Shutterstock.

The Scottish highlands are no stranger to snow, hence the fluffy coos. Picture: Shutterstock.

Years of Christmas movies, TV specials and ad campaigns featuring great heaps of white stuff have also contributed to the idea, to the point where the prospect of a “White Christmas” is now excitedly anticipated each year.

Read more: Edinburgh’s Christmas Market food and drink: all the festive food stalls, pop-up bars and vegan treats at this year’s market

Here are the facts behind the fiction, according to the Met Office.

What qualifies as a “White Christmas”?

Scotland doesn't always get a "White Christmas" but it does better than the rest of the UK. Picture: Shutterstock.

Scotland doesn't always get a "White Christmas" but it does better than the rest of the UK. Picture: Shutterstock.

While we might think of a “White Christmas” as a day where every surface is covered in six inches of snow, the official measure is a lot more forgiving.

By the Met Office's standards, if a single snowflake is found to fall during the 24 hour period of Christmas Day, it can be termed a “White Christmas.”

Read more: Edinburgh’s Christmas 2019: all the festive family activities and events taking place in Edinburgh this Christmas

Originally, the Met Office building in London was the only site used to monitor for snow at Christmas. However, as more and more people have taken to placing bets on the subject, the number of locations used has increased to include places like Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Cardiff.

Most of Scotland's snow actually arrives after Christmas, as this unfortunate April driver found out. Picture: Shutterstock.

Most of Scotland's snow actually arrives after Christmas, as this unfortunate April driver found out. Picture: Shutterstock.

Data from stations around the UK is also analysed to provide a complete report on everywhere snow fell or lay on Christmas Day.

How often does Scotland get a “White Christmas”?

Going by the Met Office's definition, we get them fairly often – some part of Scotland has enjoyed snowfall on Christmas Day 37 times since 1960.

However, our fairytale notion of a “White Christmas” with widespread snow has never been a common occurrence in the UK.

There has only been widespread snow covering the ground across the UK (as in being reported by more than 40% of stations) four times in the last 51 years.

When was the last White Christmas?

The last real, Hallmark Movie-quality “White Christmas” in Scotland came back in 2010 when 83% of the UK's stations reported snow lying on the ground during Christmas Day.

This was the most ever recorded in the UK.

Oddly, this was actually the second “White Christmas” in a row – 2009 saw 57% of stations reporting snow on the ground.

Scotland also holds the honour of having experienced the whitest Christmas in the UK's recorded history when 47cm of snow fell on Christmas Day of 1981.

Technically, 2015 was also one as 10% of UK stations reported snow falling during Christmas Day, but there were no reports at all of it lying.

Will there be one this year?

At this point, it is impossible to say.

The Met Office will be able to provide an accurate forecast within a week of Christmas Day, though they do note that 25 December really falls right on the edge of the period in which snow is likely.

However, they have predicted that this year will be milder than usual, making snow unlikely.

Their long-range forecast for the period between 11 December and 25 December is as follows:

"This period looks likely to bring outbreaks of rain interspersed with brighter spells and showers to most parts. Temperatures seem likely to remain around or rather below average for the time of year, especially in the north and northwest with a risk of snow across the Scottish mountains."

In truth, most of the UK is far more likely to experience snowfall between January and March than to luck out on a “White Christmas”.

The "Will I Get A White Christmas?" website currently lists the odds at 50% chance of a white Christmas for Edinburgh but for cities further south like London, the chances go down to 25%.