Does it snow in Manchester, England? 2023 guide

Long exposure photograph of the shoppers at the Christmas market in front of the Manchester Town Hall,

Does it snow in Manchester?  Read on as we go into an in-depth look in snowfall in this part of England!

The northern city of Manchester is known for its wetter, slightly chillier weather – but, while it can be nippy here in the winter season, it rarely snows. 

This is largely thanks to Britain’s maritime climate, which sees milder winters and warmer summers. 

That doesn’t mean snow’s impossible – it certainly can snow in Manchester, and usually does once or twice per year! 

I’m an English local, and I often venture up north in the winter months. 

There’s not usually snow, but there can be! 

So, here’s everything you need to know about snowfall in Manchester.

Does it snow in Manchester?

Yes, it can snow in Manchester, but it’s not that common!

The city has a temperate maritime climate, which means winters are generally milder compared to other regions in Europe.

Snowfall does happen, but it’s relatively infrequent and often short-lived – it usually doesn’t settle and if it does, it tends to melt in a few days.

So while it can snow in Manchester, don’t necessarily expect it if you’re there in winter!

How often does it snow in Manchester?

Manchester, England. Cars cover, houses of snow on street. The winter storm, causing flight delays and traffic problems.

Snowfall in Manchester is a bit of a mixed bag.

On average, there are days with snow 15 to 20 days each winter, but remember, it’s usually more of a light dusting than a full-on blizzard!

In Manchester, the snow tends to come in short bursts.

One week you might see a few flurries – the next week, it could be all rain.

But even though there are a few days with snowfall, that doesn’t mean that it settles – in fact, on some days, you might not even notice it snows. 

This is because a “day of snow” can be registered when just one snowflake falls. 

While it doesn’t snow that much in the city of Manchester, it snows more in the hills surrounding the city – The Pennines, the tallest hills in England, are only a 25 minute drive away.

When does it snow in Manchester? 

It can snow in Manchester any time from November to March. Here’s a month-by-month breakdown. 

Does it snow in Manchester in November?

UK November weather can be quite cold, but it doesn’t often plummet below freezing.

While the month marks the beginning of winter, it’s usually more rain and chill than snow and frost.

If snow does appear, it’s often mixed with rain and seldom settles.

So, if you’re visiting Manchester in November, expect cold, damp weather but probably not a winter wonderland! 

Does it snow in Manchester in December?

December is when the odds of seeing snow go up a bit, but don’t hold your breath!

Manchester’s renowned for having one of the UK’s best Christmas markets, but it’s unlikely that you’ll see it carpeted under a blanket of snow.

You might get lucky with a few flurries, especially towards the end of the month.

Yet most of the time, Manchester’s December weather is more rainy than snowy! 

Does it snow in Manchester in January?

January is your best bet for Manchester snowfall. 

However, don’t expect a snow-covered city; flurries are relatively common, but heavy accumulation is rare.

There could be one or two days when you can build a snowman, though! 

Does it snow in Manchester in February?

February’s another month where you’ve got a chance to see snow, but the chances are always small!

Some years see several snowy days, while others hardly get any.

Just like January, snowfall in February is typically light, often melting within a day or two.

Does it snow in Manchester in March?

Snowy March in Manchester?

It’s not entirely out of the question, but it’s uncommon.

By the time March rolls around, Manchester transitions into spring, and snow becomes even less frequent.

You’re more likely to experience rain showers and cloudy days.

Why doesn’t it snow much in Manchester?

Snowfall in the Pennine Hills, not too far from Manchester.
Snowfall in the Pennine Hills, not too far from Manchester.

You might think that Manchester’s location in the northern reaches of England would make it a prime candidate for snow.

Yet, if you’re expecting frequent or heavy snowfall, you’re likely to be disappointed. But why?

Manchester’s maritime climate is a significant factor.

Situated near the Atlantic Ocean, the city experiences milder winters due to the moderating influence of the sea.

The ocean’s presence keeps temperatures from plummeting low enough to sustain prolonged snowfall.

Westerly winds from the ocean usually bring moisture but often not the freezing temperatures needed for snow.

It’s usually more of a wet cold than the biting, snow-producing cold you might find in other regions.

Elevations in Manchester aren’t high enough to significantly contribute to snowfall either. Snow is more likely at higher altitudes, where the air is cooler.

That being said, the Pennine Hills, which are just a 25 minute drive away, are probably the snowiest place in England thanks to their elevation.

It’s worth noting that the scarcity of snow isn’t unique to Manchester; it’s an England-wide phenomenon, at least compared to other European nations like Norway, Iceland and Switzerland (Scotland sees slightly more snow in the highlands).

In fact, snow’s more likely in Manchester than London, where the closeness to the coast, southern latitude and urban heat island effect all contribute to lack of snow.

Much of England is influenced by the North Atlantic Drift, a warm ocean current that keeps the British Isles from experiencing the kind of frigid winters seen on the European mainland.

The ocean current serves as a sort of thermal buffer, limiting the number of days with temperatures low enough for snow to form.

That’s why, across England, heavy snowfall is often a headline-making event!

When has it snowed heavily in Manchester?

Though rare, Manchester has had its moments of significant snowfall. 

One of the most memorable times was in December 2010, a year when the city experienced a particularly cold winter.

Sub-zero temperatures allowed for substantial snowfall that covered not just Manchester but much of the UK.

Roads were closed, public transport was disrupted, and most of us had some time off work or school!

Another episode that got people talking was the snowfall in February 2018, often referred to as the “Beast from the East“.

A wave of cold air from Siberia hit the UK, and Manchester found itself covered in a thick layer of snow. Schools were shut, flights were cancelled, and the city came close to a standstill!

Of course, these instances are exceptions rather than the rule.

Most years, Manchester sees moderate, fleeting snowfall that melts away quickly!

Average temperature in Manchester in winter

Winter weather in Manchester can be quite… wintery, with strong winds, a high chance of rain and a fairly low maximum temperature!

That said, the minimum temperature rarely drops below freezing, which is why you won’t find much snow. 

However, there can be anomalies in the weather forecast; cold snaps can lead to more snow coverage. 

MonthAverage High (°C / °F)Average Low (°C / °F)Rainy Days
November9°C / 48°F6°C / 43°F13 days
December8°C / 46°F4°C / 39°F14 days
January7°C / 45°F3°C / 37°F13 days
February7°C / 45°F3°C / 37°F9 days

What’s it like when it snows in Manchester?

Manchester in a blanket of snow is definitely a change of pace!

When it snows, the typically bustling city streets are much quieter.

Traffic slows down, people start walking more cautiously, and there’s an air of calm that replaces the usual city buzz.

If you’re a football fan, you might notice that matches could be postponed due to snowy conditions.

Old Trafford and Etihad Stadium, usually buzzing with excitement, become eerily still under a snowy sky.

Public transport generally remains operational, albeit with some delays.

The Metrolink, Manchester’s tram system, usually faces minor disruptions, but buses and trains usually keep running. 

Attractions like the Manchester Art Gallery or the Museum of Science and Industry mostly stay open.

Things to do when it snows in Manchester

Snowing in England, UK, beautiful winter walk along the path near the canal

While heavy snowfall in Manchester is a rarity, when it does happen, there’s plenty to do outside the usual winter attractions. 

They include: 

Snowman building at Platt Fields Park

If you’re in the mood for some classic snow fun, head to Platt Fields Park.

The park offers expansive open spaces perfect for building snowpeople!

The park is family-friendly, so it’s a great option for those with kids in tow.

Just make sure to get there early if you want the best snow; the locals know this is the go-to spot!

A cozy evening at The Marble Arch Inn

Craving warmth and comfort?

The Marble Arch Inn is your refuge.

This historic pub, dating back to 1888, offers a cosy atmosphere perfect for a snowy day.

Located on Rochdale Road, the pub serves up a range of craft beers and hearty meals.

Wooden benches, traditional tiled floors, and a warming fire are ideal for relaxing and watch the snow fall through the window.

Snowy walk at Salford Quays

For a peaceful walk that offers a mix of modern architecture and open water, Salford Quays is your destination.

The area transforms into a tranquil scene when it snows, the white landscape contrasting with the steel and glass of buildings like The Lowry and MediaCityUK.

If you’re lucky, you might catch the snowflakes dancing over the water!

FAQs about Manchester in the snow

Weather forecast in the city 3D

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about snow in Manchester!

Does Manchester have snow?

Yes, Manchester does experience snow, but it’s not frequent.

Winters in the city are generally milder due to its maritime climate, meaning heavy snowfall is rare.

When it does snow, it often melts within a few days.

Does it snow in Manchester at Christmas?

A white Christmas in Manchester is quite uncommon.

While it’s not impossible, the odds are low.

The maritime climate and influence of warm ocean currents usually mean milder temperatures around Christmas time.

If you’re dreaming of a white Christmas in Manchester, it’s best to keep expectations in check!

What temperature does it snow near Manchester, UK?

Snow in and around Manchester typically occurs when temperatures hover around the freezing mark, 0°C (32°F).

However, snowfall can sometimes occur at slightly higher temperatures up to 2°C, especially if conditions in the upper atmosphere are colder.

Why does it not snow in Manchester, UK?

Manchester’s maritime climate and geographical features make it less prone to heavy snowfall.

Proximity to the Atlantic Ocean often results in milder winters, and the North Atlantic Drift further moderates temperatures.

So, while it can snow, the conditions for heavy or sustained snowfall are less frequent.

When was the last white Christmas in Manchester?

The last memorable white Christmas in Manchester was in 2010, a year that saw significant snowfall not just in Manchester but across the UK.

However, white Christmases are rare and only happen every few years (sometimes decades!).

All you need to know about snowfall in Manchester!

So, while Manchester – and everywhere in England in winter – sees much warmer temperatures than elsewhere in Northern Europe, there’s still a chance of snow! 

Generally, there are more days of rain than snow throughout the cooler months, but snow can and does happen.

So do check the weather if you’re heading to the Northern city this winter!

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