This is the Christmas weather forecast for Scotland - and whether it will snow

By Jenna Macfarlane
Tuesday, 8th December 2020, 1:50 pm
Updated Tuesday, 8th December 2020, 1:50 pm

Scots have already had a taste of the cold weather this year, as heavy snow fell across the country at the beginning of December. 

The drop in temperature brought widespread travel disruption and closed schools across the country.

According to the Met Office, the drop in temperature and wild weather is set to continue in Scotland in the lead up, and during, the Christmas period. 

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Here’s everything you need to know about the weather forecast for the festive season - and check back for updates as Christmas nears.

What is the Christmas weather forecast for Scotland?

The Met Office has released its long-range weather forecast for the whole of the UK, and Scotland could be faced with cold spells.

From Monday 21 December until 4 January, there could be “outbreaks of rain and windy conditions” which are particularly likely to occur in the east.

The only sign of snow so far comes with the prediction of “wintry showers” on high ground, according to the forecaster, meaning Scotland’s hills and mountains could experience snowfall and sleet.

The west and northwest are most likely to experience good weather during this period, including sunshine. 

However, with this good weather could come “fog, frost and very cold nights”.

Temperatures are also set to drop, sitting at average or below average for this time of year.

At the start of January, the Met Office says there’s a possibility that conditions could become “wetter and milder”.

The Met Office states: “Confidence is very low during this period, with forecast signals weak and rather mixed. On balance, most likely to remain changeable with periods of more settled and unsettled weather both likely. 

“Outbreaks of rain and windy conditions are likely at times, particularly in the east and south, with wintry showers possible on high ground and maybe to lower levels at times. 

“The west and northwest is most likely to see drier weather and sunshine, though this may extend to other parts at times. This will bring potential for fog, frost and very cold nights. Temperatures are likely to be at or below average for this time of year, though some milder interludes are possible. 

“There is a possibility that conditions may become wetter and milder at the start of January.”

What is the forecast for Scotland leading up to Christmas?

Snowfall is possible leading up to the Christmas period, as the Met Office says “Scottish hill snow”, arriving from the Atlantic, could occur from Saturday 12 December. 

The forecaster predicts that there will also be rain across the UK, which will be accompanied by strong winds and coastal gales, likely to be heaviest in the west.

As we approach the Christmas period of 21 December, the weather could become more settled although there will be rain at times.

Temperatures will also be near normal for that time of year, before plunging into colder spells over Christmas.

The Met Office states: “Remaining unsettled and mild to start the period. Band of cloud, rain, and some Scottish hill snow at first, arriving from the Atlantic. 

“The rain, accompanied by strong winds and coastal gales at times, will likely be heaviest in the west, whilst areas further east should remain drier longer. Towards the end of the period, it is likely that things will start becoming more settled again, though outbreaks of rain or showers are still expected at times. 

“Showers could become wintry on high ground, and perhaps at lower levels. Temperatures are likely to begin near normal or mild, but quickly trending to around average or slightly below average. 

“A chance of turning colder again later in the period.”

When was the last time Scotland had snow at Christmas?

The Met Office’s definition of a white Christmas is a single snowflake falling within 24 hours of 25 December in a certain location in the UK.

That means areas could experience a white Christmas without seeing widespread, heavy snowfall.

By this definition, the last time Scotland experienced a proper white Christmas was a decade ago in 2010, which was the second in a row after snow fell on the big day in 2009.

A festive white out in Scotland’s main cities, including Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee, currently has odds of 3/1 according to betting firm Paddy Power.

Scotland also holds the accolade of having the whitest Christmas in the UK's recorded history.

The deepest snowfall ever recorded on Christmas Day was in Perthshire in 1981, when the area witnessed 47cm of snow.

According to the Met Office, there has only been widespread, blanket coverings of snow four times across the UK in the last 51 years.