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Last Updated: Sunday, 26 December, 2004, 14:16 GMT
Bookies lose out on snow bets
Man and dogs in snow
Many people enjoyed a white Christmas
Bookmakers will pay out hundreds of thousands of pounds after the first White Christmas in Wales for years.

William Hill confirmed punters had won prizes running into six figures after snow fell in Cardiff and five other UK locations on Christmas Day.

Ladbrokes paid out a five-figure sum on bets for a white Christmas in Cardiff.

For Welsh punters to win, at least one snowflake had to fall on the Met Office roof in the city centre on Christmas Day.

Officials checked the roof every hour to verify the result.

The Cardiff tower block is one of six official Met Office sites used by bookmakers to determine a White Christmas.

In addition to Cardiff, Aberdeen, Birmingham, Manchester, and Belfast all had snow.

Bookies were delighted that London did not have any reports of snow, and none was reported in the south east of England.

Bookies estimate the cost of the first white Christmas since 2001 to approach 1m.

'Widespread snow'

Odds were slashed last week as temperatures plunged and weather forecasters began predicting wintry scenes.

"I don't think we've seen widespread snow since before the millennium so we mustn't be too Scrooge-like," one bookmaker said.

A number of severe weather warnings were issued across the UK on Christmas Day.

Between 1971 and 1992 there was only one year - 1980 - when widespread sleet and snow fell across the UK on Christmas Day. By contrast, between 1993 and 2003, snow fell five times.

BBC weather forecaster Matt Taylor said snow could still be making its way across much of the country.

Weather forecasts for Sunday said scattered wintry showers should die away later leaving sunny spells, while the northwest wind should gradually fade.




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