At this time of year one of the things everyone hopes for is snow.
Now that Christmas is over we need something to brighten up sometimes gloomy days, and no matter how old we get snow always manages to thrill us.
In London it’s sadly less likely to fall than in areas further north – but that undoubtedly means we appreciate it more, even if the white stuff doesn’t settle.
But what some people may have noticed is that their neighbours get a dusting of snow while they don’t even see it fall.
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It turns out there’s quite a simple reason for this oddity.
It’s all because temperatures are much warmer at ground level than they are even just 25 metres up in the air, meaning we might see rain when seconds ago the precipitation was snow.
Local weather expert Ian Currie said: “Snow is very dependant on the height of where you are.
“For every 50 feet, 15 metres or so, you get higher up there is an increased likelihood of an extra day of snow. So if you take parts of South Croydon for example, Sanderstead and Selsdon, you are likely to get 10 more days of snow a year there than parts in the north of Croydon.
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“It can change that much in a small distance.
“Again out by Biggin Hill there is much more chance of getting snow than Streatham or Tooting for example.”
This is why it’s so difficult to forecast snow accurately – just a few degrees difference in temperature will make the difference between us seeing snow or rain.
Ian added: “We’re talking about very dynamic, complex systems. A weather front could be thousands and thousands of miles away, but if it arrives just a little bit off the predicted path, the weather can be totally different.
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“Snow is very hard to predict because in this country we’re so close to that critical point where the temperature drops enough for precipitation to fall as snow.
“In Sweden, you could safely predict that a weather front would bring snow, but here just a change of a couple of degrees could make the difference.”