White Christmas no longer snow joke

Witney Gazette: Forecasters say we could be in for a white Christmas after all. Forecasters say we could be in for a white Christmas after all.

Despite the heavy winds, rain and flooding that has battered the UK in recent weeks, we could be on course for a white Christmas after all.

Forecasters predict the recent stormy weather will continue to be unsettled in the run up to December 25, with heavy rain and strong winds affecting much of the UK.

But by the time Santa boards his sleigh temperatures will have dropped, and wintry showers could leave parts of Britain covered in snow for Christmas Day.

Eddy Carroll, chief forecaster with the Met Office, said: " We can expect stormy weather in many areas to start the Christmas week, but looking forward to Christmas Eve and Christmas Day we are expecting it to turn colder, with a mix of wintry showers and sunny spells but for wind speeds to drop.

"So there is a chance that some places may see a White Christmas."

Officially, a white Christmas is defined as just one single snowflake falling from the sky.

But those hoping to bring the sledge down from the loft or dress a snowman with scarf and hat might be a little disappointed - unless you live in the mountains of Scotland.

"It's not going to be cold enough for widespread snow, it's more of a showery picture," said Chris Burton, from weather forecasters MeteoGroup.

"There will be a bit of sleet and snow on the higher ground, such as the hills of Wales and in northern England, and wintry showers will be heavy in the mountains of Scotland.

"But it's probably not going to be a white Christmas in central London."

Before the dreams of Bing Crosby are answered there is some bad weather for the UK to negotiate.

Much of the weekend will be cool and showery, the Met Office said, with low pressure developing over the Atlantic on Sunday and passing to the north west of the UK on Monday and into Tuesday.

That low pressure will bring widespread strong winds and heavy rain from Monday morning for 24 hours, and the Met Office has issued severe weather warnings for wind and rain across the South West and northern areas of the UK for the next few days, bringing the possibility of flooding.

People are being advised to plan and prepare for the coming bad weather, and commuters are warned to take extra care when travelling.

A spokesman for the Environment Agency said: " People who are set to be away from home for the festive period are urged to check the flood situation and take precautionary steps to prepare, for example by moving valuable items to safety, before travelling.

"People are also urged to check the flood risk situation for their journey and at their destination.

"People are also being urged not to drive through dangerous flood water. The Environment Agency has teams on the ground checking flood defences and monitoring river levels and will have teams ready to respond throughout the Christmas period."

John McTaggart, head of on-road services at the Highways Agency, said: "We are working closely with the Met Office to monitor conditions ahead of the weather being forecast for next week.

"Road users are urged to check traffic and weather conditions before setting out on journeys and to heed any advice such as speed restrictions once they are on motorways and major trunk roads.

"Be aware of sudden gusts of wind, and give high-sided vehicles, caravans, motorbikes and bicycles plenty of space. In the event of persistent high winds we may need to close certain bridges to traffic for a period, so please be alert for warnings of closures and follow signposted diversion routes."

At least one bookmaker has halved the odds of a white Christmas.

Ladbrokes had been offering 12/1 for snow on Christmas Day in London as recently as Friday morning but those odds have been slashed to just 6/1 in little more than 24 hours.

David Williams of Ladbrokes said: "We thought we'd dodged the snowball but now we're not so sure. Earlier in the week we'd all but written it off but the last 48 hours have seen the biggest snow gamble for ages."

Edinburgh and Glasgow have also been cut to 5/2 to see snow on Christmas Day and Manchester has odds of 3/1. Belfast and Dublin are both 4/1.

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