Does it snow in Manchester? Manchester is a popular tourist destination due to its economic and cultural history as well as its association with the beautiful game of football.
Visitors to this dynamic metropolitan scene can take comfort in the year-round mildness of the seaside climate. However, many people want to know, “When does it snow in Manchester?”
Cold temperatures and some rain are typical in Manchester throughout the winter, but the question is, “When is snow in Manchester?”
Let’s find out more about it.
Yes, it snows in Manchester although the city is better known for how frequently it rains.
More about Manchester’s Climate
Being part of the British Isles, Manchester enjoys a temperate oceanic climate.
The summers are warm, occasionally reaching 30oC but the winters are dark, wet, windy, and cold. It rains throughout the year with only slight variation, making Manchester humid for most of the year.
Average High and Low Temperatures in Manchester
Manchester’s climate has a large temperature swing between the warm and cool seasons.
The milder and more pleasant weather of the warm season lasts for about 3.4 months, from late May to early September.
At this time of year, highs are often above 64 degrees Fahrenheit on a daily basis.
In contrast, Manchester’s cool season is about four months long, stretching from roughly mid-November to mid-March.
During this time, temperatures drop to below 50 degrees Fahrenheit on average each day. With a low of 37 degrees Fahrenheit and a high of 46 degrees Fahrenheit on average, January is clearly the coldest month of the year.
Here is more about the average high and low temperatures in Manchester:
Fact: July is the warmest month, with an average high of 68 degrees Fahrenheit and a low of 56 degrees Fahrenheit, making it ideal for outdoor activities and sightseeing.
Does it Snow in Manchester?
Yes, there are flurries of snow in the city of Manchester and the surrounding area most winters.
However, it is rare for the city center close to the river to experience deep snow.
The wettest season is autumn but temperatures are seldom low enough for rain to fall as snow then.
Even in winter, prolonged low temperatures are classed as unusual weather events. There isn’t always enough moisture in the dendritic growth zone (the layer of the atmosphere where snow forms) above Manchester to form snow.
Historical Snowfall Events in Manchester
There have been exceptions, such as in 2018 when Storm Emma and the ‘Beast of East’ blanketed the UK in snow 50cm deep.
The storm which originated in Siberia, brought most of the country to a standstill and the army was called in to help thousands stranded.
It was a similar situation eight years earlier in 2010. Schools closed although the airport, a major European hub, continued to operate.
Public transportation struggled but stuck to the major routes and road gritters worked round the clock to keep them open, despite people stealing their grit.
Fact: Many Manchester residents remember the ‘Big Freeze’ of 1959, and the significant snowfall was such a rare event that residents celebrated with picnics in the snow.
How Much Snow Does Manchester Get Each Year?
Compared to other major cities on the same latitude but outside the UK, such as Minsk, Belarus, Hamburg, Germany, or Samara, Russia, snow in Manchester is rare.
Rain and sleet are more typical but there are often light flurries in the cooler parts of the city, especially at night.
The flurries hardly ever accumulate to a depth that is measured and officially recorded. The average yearly amount of snowfall for Manchester is 10.25 inches with 20 days on average.
It can fall as early as November and as late as April but the coldest months are December, January, and February.
|Average snow in Manchester||Nov||Dec||Jan||Feb||March||April|
The Impact of Precipitation in Manchester
Manchester is an ancient city with its commercial center on the banks of the River Irwell. This connects to the River Mersey, the port of Liverpool, and the Irish Sea via the Manchester Ship Canal.
Geographically, the city sits in a bowl with the Pennines to its north and east and the Cheshire Plain to its south 35 miles from the northwest coast. And as it gets more rain, the amount of snowfall is on the lower side.
The area gets a good amount of rain throughout the year.
Here is a bit more about it:
Fact: Manchester once monopolized global cotton textile production which triggered the development of England’s canal-based transport system.
Where Can You Find Snow in Manchester?
Manchester is at an elevation of 150ft on average, with little variation across the city.
There are no areas within the city that are at a high enough altitude more likely to attract snow. However, the Pennines, the snowiest place in England most years, lie just 10 miles away.
What is Winter Like in Manchester?
Winter days in Manchester tend to be overcast, damp, and cold.
However, from the solstice on the 21st onwards with more sunlight hours the percentage of cloud cover steadily decreases falling from 71% to 67%.
As the clouds disappear, so does the chance of rain, from 37% to 29% with a chance of the rain turning to snow staying pretty constant at 1%.
As winter progresses the prevailing west winds become stronger peaking mid-December before steadily decreasing.
|Winter in Manchester||Dec||Jan||Feb|
|Temperature high||8oC/46oF||7 oC/44.6 oF||7 oC/44.6 oF|
|Temperature low||4 oC/39.2 oF||3 oC/37.4 oF||3 oC/37.4 oF|
Even though the winters are dull and cold, temperatures in and around the city don’t tend to stay below zero after sunrise.
Why Is Snow Fall So Rare in Manchester?
Heavy snow is a rare event anywhere in the UK but especially rare in Manchester.
Most years the temperatures only dip below freezing for a couple of hours at night. But every few years the global winds and sea currents shift location making the UK more vulnerable.
Such heavy snowfalls reveal a pattern in Manchester’s weather data corresponding to strong El Niño years characterized by shifted warm ocean currents every 4 to 7 years.
Most years, Manchester avoids the worst of winter for four reasons;
The Pennine Chain is a range of hills and mountains that is often described as England’s backbone.
The chain forms a protective barrier around Manchester to its north and west. The peaks and troughs deflect and redirect the worst of the winter weather moving down over Europe from the Arctic regions in the north.
Cold air masses are forced up the sides and dump their snow on the peaks long before reaching Manchester on the Cheshire Plain’s edge.
The North Atlantic Drift
The North Atlantic Drift is the warm ocean current that flows around the British Isles.
Not only does it bring the heat up from the tropics, but it also acts as a thermal buffer between Britain and mainland Europe, which gets much colder and sees significantly more snow year after year.
The heat of the warmed ocean waters transfers to air and prevents temperatures from falling to levels conducive to prolonged snowfalls and accumulation.
The Westerly winds bring moist warm air to Manchester, only 35 miles from the Irish Sea coast to the west and just 80 miles from Hull on the east coast.
Manchester, therefore experiences a maritime climate. The air is typically wet, hindering snow formation even when temperatures fall to zero.
The moist air and damp ground also hamper its accumulation. It melts quickly and refreezes as ice.
Manchester is a sprawling metropolis with its urban areas stretching out across the Greater Manchester region, one of the largest counties in the UK.
Like all major centers of human activity, Manchester gives off considerable heat. It is a phenomenon labeled as the urban heat effect.
Manchester is a heat island. Its surfaces and the activity in it radiate heat but it is not evenly distributed, and this interferes with the snow frequency.
Fact: The less populated and built up areas will be colder and are therefore more likely to experience snow.
Does it snow in Manchester? Yes, there have been some historical events leading to snowfall in Manchester.
But, it is extremely rare these days, mainly due to the geographical location of Manchester and other factors, including the urban heat effect.
But, even though there is no snow, you will still find so many things to do and explore no matter when you decide to visit Manchester.