Will there be snow this Christmas?
Posted on 25 Dec 2022
'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse’ - From the poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” By Clement Clarje Moore
Luckily, as legend goes, Santa does not need to worry about inclement weather when he is making his many visits during the night before Christmas. Thanks to Rudolph’s bright red nose, Santa has a clear view for his epic annual journey, even in the most dense of fog conditions.
Rudolph may well have solved Santa’s navigation issues, though in the years that Clement Clarje Moore wrote his famous poem in 1882, Santa has faced many other climate and weather challenges. We could guess that the weather is important to Mr.Claus, two of his famous band of reindeer are named after weather conditions: Donner, also sometimes called Donder or Dunder is named after thunder, and Blitzen, also spelled Blixen and Blixem is named after lightning.
Changing climate and weather conditions has meant that it is not just Santa who is affected by the weather. The industries that revolve around the festive season are also adapting.
The growth of the Christmas tree
It is thought that the first Christmas trees were brought into people’s homes as long ago as the 16th century, however the tradition of using evergreen materials as decoration in homes goes back well before this time.
Today, in the UK alone, there is a demand for an estimated 8 million trees per year. Each tree takes 8 to 10 years to grow, during which time it naturally absorbs Co2, as well as acting as a host for wildlife. The trees are treated as a crop, so they do not impact deforestation, with new seedlings being planted for each tree felled. When a tree is disposed of through mulching, it only contributes 3.5Kg of Co2, dramatically less than the estimated 40Kg impact of the equivalent artificial tree.
There is a growing popularity for replanting Christmas trees as even those that have been cut off, with some care, can be planted back and regrown. Some trees are even sent to zoos for use by the animals - elephants are very partial to an old tree that they love to use to clean their teeth with!
Climate change has created challenges for the production of Christmas trees in the colder Scandinavian environments. Historically, snowfalls have acted as an insulating layer, protecting the young tree's roots from the cold temperatures. However the reduced snowfall has removed this protection, affecting the growth and yield of the crop. As with other agricultural sectors, having an early warning of a combination of colder temperatures and reduced snowfall can help farmers take preventative measures.
The OpenWeather Agro Dashboard is a versatile and visual tool to monitor soil and other data for configurable field polygons. It includes satellite data, as well as current, historic and forecast weather data and NDVI charts.
Santa’s and Sami’s Reindeer
There is no doubt that Rudolph and his colleagues are extremely well looked after by Mr. Claus and his diligent helpers, despite their busy schedule.
Other migratory herd owners are experiencing new challenges however - research has shown that the effect of global warming has been amplified at the poles, with average air temperatures rising faster than elsewhere on the planet. This results in the rapid loss of ice, and variable snowfalls.
Iindigenous populations who look after herds of reindeer, such as Sweden’s Sami people, are reliant on consistent annual snowfall for their traditional November migration. A covering of snow in November is important as the Sami use snowmobiles to herd the reindeer, and use their tracks to make sure none are lost, and to also watch out for predators. Inconsistent snowfall and temperatures has made the management of this migration increasingly difficult.
The lack of snow also affects the vegetation that the reindeer feed on, as without the snow covering, there is a higher chance of overgrazing, and the plants being trampled by the herds.
The OpenWeather Daily Forecast 16 Days API can help reindeer, caribou and other animal herders understand more about the temperature, pressure, humidity and other key weather conditions to help them plan their traditional annual migrations.
The Lingering Fragrance
Gifts can be affected by the weather in many ways. Even after Santa has delivered the neatly (and occasionally not-so-neatly) wrapped presents, the weather can impact different items in different ways.
For example, the festive favorite of perfume can have different characteristics depending on the weather. Those in the southern hemisphere who celebrate their festive holidays during the summer will experience their fragrances being exaggerated by the higher temperatures. The increased evaporation will mean that the fragrance will not last as long, but will have more intense ‘notes’. Those of us in the southern hemisphere will experience the opposite, fragrance gifts will not project as much as in higher temperatures, but will linger for longer periods of time.
Human physiology also varies according to the temperature; In colder winter conditions when the skin is dry, fragrances do not adhere as well as when there are higher oil levels during hotter summer conditions. Also, in colder conditions, smell receptors in the nose are not as sensitive as in warmer conditions, so parfumiers tend to recommend stronger base notes that will be noticed.
Will it be a white Christmas?
What can be more emotive of a happy festive season as the thought of waking up on Christmas day to a gentle covering of pristine snow. It may not be surprising however that different countries have different ideas of what really constitutes a ‘white Christmas’.
The USA requires a 2.5cm snow covering for their definition to be satisfied. The UK has a slightly less stringent requirement, declaring a white Christmas with just one, single, solitary snowflake falling anywhere within the UK at certain city locations on the 25th December.
It is possible to know if there will be snow on 25th December, or indeed any other day of the year, in any location in the world using the OpenWeather One Call 3.0.
Though perhaps, for some, this might be the one day each year that patiently waiting to see what the weather will bring is simply more fun!
We wish you a very Merry Christmas,
and may 2023 bring you health, happiness, and peace.