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Saturday, 22 December, 2001, 12:01 GMT
Bookies slash odds on white Christmas
Scotland has already been hit by snow this winter
Bookmakers have slashed the odds on a white Christmas to the shortest price for 20 years.

Heavy snow showers have alredy swept across parts of eastern England and Scotland, forcing the cancellation of Middlesbrough's premiership clash against Fulham on Teeside.

Coral is now offering odds of 6/5 for snow on 25 December, and some bookmakers face a six-figure payout if there is a white Christmas.

With the cold weather continuing, snow will never be very far away

Ewan McCallum
Met Office
For it to be official, a flake of snow must be observed to fall at specific sites between midnight on 24 December and midnight on 25 December, even if it is mixed with rain and is not necessarily snow lying on the ground.

William Hill has cut the odds on snowfall in Glasgow from 11/4 to 6/4 and London and Manchester are now quoted at 11/4, with Cardiff the 7/2 outsider.

It is expecting to take 50,000 in bets on a white Christmas, with the cold weather encouraging punters to indulge in a festive flutter.

Best chance

"One flake of snow during the 24 hours of Christmas Day could trigger a 100,000 payout, so we are literally keeping a weather eye on the skies as the weekend unfolds," said William Hill spokesman Graham Sharpe.

Weather experts at the Met Office in Bracknell, Berkshire, said people living in the north and east will have the best chance of dashing through the snow on Christmas Day.

Ewan McCallum, head of forecasting, said snow was still a way off in weather forecasting terms, but predicted: "With the cold weather continuing, snow will never be very far away."

It is not such good news for people living in the south and west who, according to the Met Office, have less than a 10% chance of seeing the white stuff fall.

See also:

08 Nov 01 | Scotland
Scotland hit by wintry weather
17 Dec 01 | Europe
Europe battles snow and floods
17 Nov 01 | Europe
Global warming may hit skiing
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