Winter 2019-20 : Snowiest place

Hours of snow lying & Hours of snow falling in the UK
Winter 2019-20

Defining what the snowiest place depends on what exact definition you use. Does snowiest mean the highest number of days/hours snow was observed falling at a particular station? Or does snowiest mean the number of days/hours snow was lying on the ground. Although observers still do manually measure snow depths and assess the extent of snow cover at 09 UTC, the general public aren’t privy to that climatological data. So this analysis is based entirely on hourly observations from the SYNOP network, all you have to do then is open and parse 3,000 files for this last winter!

Nowadays in UK SYNOPs snow depths are measured ultrasonically, and gauging the state of the snow surface, as to whether its drifted or not, and the exact extent of the snow cover is not possible with the fairly crude AWS sensors that are used at the moment. In fact I won’t go into the tricky problem of drifting, powder snow can produce big drifts even in relatively light winds, I would say that it’s almost impossible to measure snow depth accurately. Most sites in the UK do have weather sensors, so you look at the present weather code in the SYNOP to see whether sleet or snow had been observed, although sensors at some sites can be rather erratic and throw out false positives for snow, I say this because you might notice some odd totals in the snow falling chart.

The results for winter 2019-20 show that Aviemore reported the most hours with snow lying (370), and that Loch Glascarnoch reported the most hours with snow falling (159). These results are not that surprising, once Aviemore has a snow cover, and being situated as it is in Strathspey, they’ll tend to keep it much longer than at Loch Glascarnoch, which is a much more windy and exposed site.

Hours of snow lying & Hours of snow falling in the UK
Winter 2019-20

If you do all this computing to generate these snow statistics for each station, it’s then possible to create an hourly chart for the whole winter that grids the hours that snow fell and the snow depth. We live around 15 miles to the southeast of Loch Glascarnoch, and I can vouch for just how snowy the month of February 2020 was up here although very little of it settled on the ground at home.

Loch Glascarnoch
Hours of snow lying & Hours of snow falling in the UK
Winter 2019-20
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