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Dreaming of a white Christmas? Dream on!

PUBLISHED: 14:00 22 December 2008 | UPDATED: 12:47 09 March 2010

A youngster enjoys the snow in Christchurch Park earlier this year - Christmas looks unlikely to yield the same snowfall

A youngster enjoys the snow in Christchurch Park earlier this year - Christmas looks unlikely to yield the same snowfall

Evening Star weatherman Ken Blowers looks back through the records to uncover the last time snow fell on Christmas Day

EVENING STAR weatherman KEN BLOWERS today looks back at the rarity of snow at Christmas and recalls the few years when the festive season was really white.

A WHITE Christmas - so often dreamt about and yet so seldom seen.

A search of Suffolk weather records over the past 170 years reveals that only a dozen years have seen notable snowfall on Christmas Day.

The latest super-computer predictions suggest that a large high pressure system will cover Britain over the holiday period and give us the 38th consecutive year without significant yuletide snow.

The last truly white Christmas was in 1970 when the region woke up to a picturesque scene with a covering of up to four inches of snow.

The bitterly cold December of 1981 gave a covering of ice and grubby snow, which had fallen in the two weeks before Christmas.

It failed to rate as a white Christmas because no snow fell on December 25 and the snow that still lay on the ground was well-trodden.

The most outstanding white Christmas was in 1938 when the entire region was blanketed in more than six inches of snow and in rural districts snow drifts of up to 12 feet were reported.

There were many hours of blizzard-like conditions accompanied by very low temperatures.

Other white Christmases were in 1927 when heavy snow began to fall late on Christmas Day, and 1906 when the snow was so heavy that the Ipswich tramway system was brought to a standstill.

The 19th century saw far more white Christmases and data from the Suffolk Record Office shows that there was snow at the festive season in 1835, 1836, 1838 and 1840.

There was then a 20-year gap before the next white Christmas occurred in 1860 when 12 inches of snow affected the region.

Snow also fell on December 25 in 1869, 1870, 1874 and 1878.

In Suffolk and Essex there is a greater chance of snow at Easter than at Christmas and in many years snow is seen well after Christmas as high pressure develops over Scandinavia and ushers in bitterly cold easterly airstreams.

In recent years the winters have been almost snowless with any snow that fell disappearing quickly. The last really severe winter, that went on for several weeks was in 1962/63. It ranked as the coldest winter since 1740.

The winter of 1946/47 was outstanding for the amount of snow and the widespread flooding when the snow began to melt. It ended with a ferocious gale that reached 98mph at RAF Mildenhall.

The last two severe winters were caused by blocking anticyclones that extended in a 3,000 mile belt from Greenland to western Russia - putting the British Isles into a long-lasting bitterly cold easterly airflow.

Do you remember the white Christmas of 1970? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk


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