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21 February 2017

Snowfall - Will it Settle?

Snow makes a once or twice-yearly visit to the UK. Some locations up North do get a bit more, but snowfall tends to be inconsistent year on year for us Brits. So far this year, it’s been pretty absent, with a few flurries last month, but disappointingly (for the five-year-olds within us, itching to have a good old snowball fight) it didn’t settle, or for long anyway.

According to the Met Office, the UK gets around 23.7 days of snowfall or sleet per year. However of these days, only around 16 of them show snow actually settling on the ground. Scotland is a bit more successful on the snow front, with around 26 days of settled snow per year, most of this being settled on mountainous areas.

Snow only forms when the air temperature is below 2°C. If higher than 2°C, the precipitation will fall as sleet instead. But what determines whether snow settles on the ground? It’s all down to ground temperature, put simply.

If snow forms, it will generally sit on the ground and settle if the ground temperature is at, or below freezing. Otherwise, it’ll simply melt (melting away your hopes of that snowball fight, sadly.)

However, there are some exceptions, as reported by Weather Cast. If the ground temperature is above 0°C, but the snowfall is heavy, the layers and layers of snow will cool the ground as it builds up, eventually allowing it to settle.

Whether the ground is wet or not is another factor people consider when contemplating whether the snow will settle as they watch the first flakes fall. The Weather Cast website continues to say:

“It is often believed that snow will not settle on wet roads. However, this is not true because if the air temperature is below 0°C, there will be snow, which when reaching a wet surface will become slushy and then freeze allowing the road to become snow covered.”

So, it’s as simple as that. For information on how the ground and roads become and stay icy, read our post from last week, it’s a similar principle.

Laura Sewell

An aspiring journalist, Laura is our content writer intern.  Pop-punk gig-goer and drag queen enthusiast, Laura is working her way into the industry, with an English A -Level and love of writing about anything and everything in tow.