Dreaming of a white Christmas? Be careful what you wish for

Thirsk in North Yorkshire amid the heavy snowfall of December 1938THE TIMES

A white Christmas is quite rare, especially in England, and snow falling on the day is even rarer. The last time that happened was in 2010, when snow fell on about 20 per cent of the country.

Another Dickensian white Christmas was 80 years ago, in 1938. It came as a bit of a shock, though, because that November and early December were so mild that it felt like summer. Then on December 17 a biting easterly wind swept in and it began snowing. Over the next eight days there were widespread heavy snowfalls 30cm deep, and twice that deep in places. Unusually, the snow was worst in the south of England. On Christmas Day the weather was largely dry and bitterly cold, but there…

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