Why does it snow more in some places than others?

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Key information

Some places get more snow than others. This can be because of where the wind comes from, how high up they are, even if they are in the countryside or town. Why do these make a difference?

In this article you can find out:

  • Why it snows more in some places than others
  • Where cold winds in the UK come from
  • How altitude affects the air temperature
  • What urban heat is

This resource is suitable for Weather topics for P5, P6 and P7 (Second Level Curriculum for Excellence).

Watch this video to discover why it snows more in some places than others.

Why do some places get more snow?

Wind direction

  • Snow is a type of . We get snow instead of rain when the air temperature is below 0°C (freezing).
  • In the UK, the air is cold enough for snow when the wind is blowing from extremely cold places like the Arctic regions to the north or from Siberia to the east.


  • Another reason some places get more snow than others is . This is measured in metres above .
  • The higher up you go, the colder the air gets and you are more likely to get snow than rain.

Urban heat

  • Being in a city can also affect how much snow falls.
  • Cities are busy places. All the activity and energy of lots of people, traffic and buildings heats up the air. This heat can reduce the chance of snow. This is called urban heat.
  • When it is cold in winter, it is more likely to snow in the countryside, far from big towns and cities, than in a busy city centre.
  • An urban heat island is how we describe a busy town or city which experiences much warmer temperatures than nearby .
Siberia and the Arctic Region in Norway

Wind direction

It is only cold enough for snow in the UK when the wind is blowing from extremely cold places like Siberia (left) or the Arctic regions to the north (right).

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  • precipitation - Any water that falls from the sky. Precipitation can be rain, snow, hail or sleet.
  • Arctic regions - The area around the North Pole, which includes the Arctic Ocean and parts of Alaska.
  • Siberia - A large region in Eastern Europe and North Asia known for its extremely long, cold winters.
  • altitude - How high up somewhere is. This is measured in metres above sea level.
  • sea level - The average level of the sea.
  • urban heat - When towns and cities are warmer than surrounding countryside because of all the people, traffic and buildings.
  • rural - An area in the countryside away from busy towns and cities.

Test your knowledge

Snow around the world

Click on the map below to learn more about snow in different places. Can you figure out what might affect snowfall in these areas?

Investigate how much snow your area gets each year.

Can you work out what might be affecting snowfall where you live? Do you live high up or in a busy city?

In this article, we learned why it snows more in some places than other but there's more to learn! Find out how different types of snowflakes are formed and much more.

What is snow?