Worried bookies cut white Christmas odds

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The Independent Online

Weather forecasters predicted snowfall over eastern England and Scotland at the weekend, leading bookmakers to offer the shortest price on a white Christmas for 20 years.

Corals announced odds of 5/6 for snow on 25 December after a flurry of bets in the past few days. It followed weather forecasts suggesting there was a 90 per cent chance of snow on Christmas Day.

The odds have been cut sharply in recent weeks as the weather has turned colder and bookmakers face a six-figure payout if snow falls on Christmas Day.

William Hill cut the odds against snowfall in Glasgow from 11/4 to 6/4. London and Manchester were at 11/4 with Cardiff the 7/2 outsider.

"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 Graham Sharpe of William Hill.

To be an official white Christmas, 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.

A PA WeatherCentre spokesman said: "Scotland remains the most likely place for snow on December 25, while there is also a chance of a white Christmas in the north of England. In the south we expect it to be breezy and cloudy with a bit of rain. Boxing Day has the greatest chance of getting snow over the festive period."