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White Christmas? Stop dreaming say forecasters, as seven days of rain and strong winds are set to sweep the country

The South West has been put on flood alert

Hopes for a white Christmas have been dashed once again with forecasters predicting a huge band of driving rain and strong winds will sweep the country over the next week.

The Met Office has issued severe flood weather warnings for rain for today, tomorrow and Friday, while the Environment Agency has 45 flood warnings and alerts out – most in the South West.

Although the last few days have been relatively mild and dry, a series of Atlantic weather systems are likely to bring non-stop rain over the next week.

And if the rain wasn’t enough, strong winds are expected to batter the east coast by the weekend.

There was also bad news for those planning to visit the Isles of Scilly for the Christmas period, after Land’s End Airport announced it was close from tomorrow until December 27.

The Cornish airport had only reopened yesterday after being closed since Friday due to a waterlogged runway.

Nick Sanders, Group Commercial Manager for the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company, told the Daily Mail: “The water table at Land's End in this weather - we've had 15mm of rain last night - takes us beyond the point of no return because of the grass runway.”

“Landing heavy aircraft on grass would tear up the ground, so we're now running passengers up from Land's End to Newquay, free of charge,” he added.

The unsettled weather has dramatically lengthened the odds of a white Christmas, usually defined as a single snowflake observed falling on the roof of an official Met Office observation site. Ladbrokes has reportedly moved odds from 5/2 to 6/1.