Here's what you need to know about the white stuff, how it forms and some of the best snowy songs.
How does snow form?
When temperatures are low, water vapour in clouds freezes into crystals, which then collide and combine to form snowflakes.
And when they get heavy enough, they fall from sky and eventually clump together on the ground.
If temperatures remain at two degrees or lower the snow can settle. But two types of white stuff – 'wet' and 'dry' – can either mean perfect snowman-making material or powdery plumes for wanderers caught in the winter wonderland.
Moisture is another crucial condition for snow formation. The air must contain enough water vapour to generate precipitation before it rises and cools and forms rain or snow.
Can it ever be too cold for snow to fall?
The short answer to this flaky FAQ is no, as even during the coldest spells in Antarctica it's still possible to get snow falling from the sky.
But heavy snowfalls are much less likely to occur when the mercury drops below freezing.
In extremely cold conditions, the right conditions for snow are difficult to achieve because as the air gets colder, it gets drier. This reduces the overall size of the dump.
How often does it snow in the UK?
According to the Met Office, the majority of the UK gets on average 23.7 days of snowfall or sleet a year, based on the years 1981 to 2010, or 38.1 days if you are in Scotland.
Sadly for snow-lovers, much of this snowfall does not settle, and the figures show on average across the UK there’s actually only 15.6 days a year when snow is on the ground, compared to 26.2 days in Scotland.
If you are desperate to experience the white stuff, the snowiest place in the UK is the Cairngorms in Scotland, which gets 76.2 days of snow or sleet falling on average.
And on the other end of the scale, Cornwall is the least likely to get snow, with an average of only 7.4 days of snow or sleet falling a year.
How do you drive safely in snow and ice?
The best advice is – don’t drive unless absolutely necessary.
If you genuinely do have to drive, make sure you prepare in case you get stranded in a snow drift.
Take food, water, blankets, a torch, a first aid kit, a fully charged phone, a shovel, jump leads and de-icer fluid.
Make sure you clear all your windows – it’s actually illegal to drive if you can’t see out of all of them.
Try to stick to major roads which should have been gritted and make sure you have a full tank of fuel, and check the oil and other engine fluids before you set off.
Keep your distance – it can take 10 times as long to come to a stop in icy conditions compared to normal.
At least 20 seconds’ distance from the car in front is recommended.
Remember to drive smoothly and don’t brake or accelerate harshly, otherwise your tyres will lose grip.
Keep the radio turned off or down low so you can hear the difference if you hit an icy patch.
If you do skid, don’t brake – take your foot off the accelerator and let the car slow down itself.
What are the best songs about snow?
The weather outside is frightful to some, but others love nothing more than belting out winter classics when winter arrives. Here are our top picks for snow-related songs as white blankets continue to coat the country.
- Let it Snow (1945). Possibly the best tune to blare out as icy blasts chill the nation, Let It Snow – composed by Jule Styne – is essential listening every year.
- White Christmas (1942). Most people dream of waking up to a picture perfect snowy scene on Christmas morning – a feeling wonderfully captured by Irving Berlin's best-selling classic.
- Baby, It's Cold Outside (1944). Couples can't avoid Frank Loesser's call and response duet when the temperatures turn.
- Frosty The Snowman (1950). Recorded by Gene Autry and the Cass County Boys, this singalong tune is sure to break the ice at the start of any carolling concert.
- Let it Go (2013). Love or hate this catchy Frozen tune, there's almost no escaping it as snow falls and the kids cuddle up to re-watch Elsa and friends belt out hit Disney songs from the movie.
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