Events

Will It Be a White Christmas 2014?

will it be a white christmas 2014

As we get closer and closer to the big day, the question on everyone’s lips is, ‘Will it be a White Christmas 2014?’. The answer to that depends on a number of factors, such as where you live and what we mean by a ‘White Christmas’.

 

What is a White Christmas?

 

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For most people in UK, a White Christmas is when we have a complete covering of snow on the ground on the morning of 25th December. For others, a single snowflake or flurry of snow is enough to declare it a ‘White Christmas’.

The Americans are more precise, calling a White Christmas when there is a snow depth of ‘one inch or more, on Christmas Morning’. I’m inclined to go with the American definition, but you can make up your own mind!

 

 

Where is a White Christmas Almost Guaranteed?

 

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In UK there is no place that we can guarantee a White Christmas. You might be more likely to see snow in the mountains, but some years even the high ground didn’t get snow! The mountain ranges of Europe are a better bet, especially the villages higher up.

 

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In USA there are wide swathes of the country that are pretty much guaranteed NOT to have a White Christmas. Kids who live in Texas or Florida are unlikely to open their windows to a wintery Christmas scene!

The northern states are used to large amounts of snow – you may have seen the pictures like this one in the news recently, when the Buffalo area was hit by freak winter storms. How would you like to shovel a path to this house?

 

 

When Will We Know?

Long range weather forecasts are not really reliable, and we won’t know until a few days before Xmas whether it will be a White Christmas. At the time of writing, it is looking like most of UK will be too mild for snow on 25th December, but we will be keeping an eye on the Met Office website in the next week. 

 

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Science, Nature and Tech

Winter Wonderings – Are Snowflakes Really All Different?

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Sam

Sam has worked as a forensic scientist as well as for the British government, and has degrees in both archaeology and osteoarchaeology. She has 2 children, is passionate about science, reading, history and music, and loves dyeing her hair bright colours!

Sam blogs about all kinds of science at www.samanthagouldson.com.
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It’s a common belief that no two snowflakes are the same, and in a way this is true. No snowflake can ever be completely identical to another, because when you get down to the molecular level they will have slightly different kinds of water molecules, different electrons and different traces of other materials such as specks of dust.

However, if we’re talking only about the appearance and shape of a snowflake, then yes it is possible that some will have duplicates. Snow crystals can vary from fairly simple, hexagonal structures to the more complex and delicate shapes that we commonly think of as snowflakes.

The simple flakes have far fewer molecules than their larger cousins and so it’s entirely possible that you could find two that appeared identical when viewed through a microscope. The more complex structures, however, can have more than a hundred different features and each feature can form in a number of different ways. This makes it highly unlikely that you would ever find two large snowflakes that looked the same – but you could have fun trying!

For a more detailed explanation of the science behind the forming of snowflakes, check out this video

 

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