Model Watch: Early December potential snow event

Posted on in Model Watch

The models described below have changed since this post was initially published. Check the latest update.

Welcome to the latest Model Watch blogpost, where we take a look at a potential snow event that models suggest could occur by the end of next week.


We look at models in Model Watch and these often look further ahead than forecasts. There is a level of uncertainty in models that you should consider as well. It is difficult to forecast snow so far ahead due to various factors. Models can and do often change as we get closer to the event. We are not saying that snowfall will definitely happen, but we are looking at the models and thought you'd find it interesting to see what they are showing.


Both the ECMWF and GFS models are showing that air from the North Atlantic (Greenland and Iceland) meets warmer air from further south. This meeting occurs west of Ireland and over the course of Wednesday 2nd December, this air flow moves towards Ireland. In both models, the colder air seems to win, with the Scottish Highlands experiencing some snowfall overnight into Thursday morning. The exact timing of this differs between models.

Thursday 2 December

The ECMWF model suggests that over the course of Thursday, the Scottish Highlands will experience snowfall and higher ground in some parts of the north of England may also experience some snowfall over the course of the day and evening as well.

The GFS model is generally in agreement with the ECMWF model on this, although its timings are slightly different.

Friday 3 December

Late on Thursday night and overnight into Friday, the ECMWF shows a band of snowfall across much of Wales heading eastwards. This same band also appears to affect the area around Dartmoor National Park as well. This continues to move in a north east direction, potentiall affecting Staffordshire and the Peak District, and by 10am, affecting much of the north-west of England. By 3pm there is potential for the West Midlands to get snowfall as well.

The GFS however does not agree at this point, the model suggesting considerably less areas affected by snow and snow instead to be limited to the east coast of Scotland. The timings for the GFS suggest that there may be much of Scotland affected by snowfall in the afternoon, including parts of Wales, Worcester, Manchester and Liverpool. This tends to go further north as we get into the evening, with much of the northern parts of England receiving snowfall in the evening.

Saturday 4 December

At this point it is worth pointing out again that the models will change as we get closer but let's still take a look at what they are currently saying.

The ECMWF suggests more sleety conditions in the south of Wales and north west of Oxford, with snowfall in the Peak District overnight into Saturday 4th.

The GFS on the other hand shows a more snowy prospect with Wales, northern England and much of Scotland receiving some snowfall overnight, with snow continuing throughout the day for Wales.

We'll be keeping a keen eye on this potential event and keep checking back for updates as we move closer to the event.

Update: There are further changes with snowfall expected (and severe weather warnings now issued by the Met Office) for various parts of Scotland. The models are still not in total agreement about where exactly snow will fall in England, we're checking the models once published and will continue to provide updates. It is very likely that snow will be limited to higher ground, as expected.

The models are expected to change further as we get closer to the event.