Bookmakers have slashed the odds on the chance of a white Christmas as forecasters predict plummeting temperatures.
Stormy weather which battered Scotland and northern England in recent weeks is set to continue in the run-up to December 25.
Heavy rain and strong winds will affect much of the UK.
But by Christmas Eve temperatures will have dropped, and wintry showers could leave parts of Britain blanketed in snow for Christmas Day.
Eddy Carroll, chief forecaster with the Met Office, said: “Looking forward to Christmas Eve and Christmas Day we are expecting it to turn colder, with a mix of wintry showers and sunny spells. Wind speeds should drop.
“So there is a chance that some places may see a white Christmas.”
Chris Burton, of weather forcecasters MeteoGroup, said there would be sleet and snow on higher ground in Scotland and northern England but mainly showers elsewhere.
Meanwhile, bookmakers have cut the odds on seeing snow on Christmas Day. Edinburgh and Glasgow have seen odds slashed to 5/2 and Manchester has odds of 3/1. Bookies at Coral were yesterday offering odds of 5/1 that Newcastle would have a white Christmas.
David Williams, of Ladbrokes, said yesterday: “Earlier in the week we’d all but written it off but the last 48 hours have seen the biggest snow gamble for ages.”
However, first there is some bad weather for the UK, with much of the weekend cool and showery, the Met Office said.
Low pressure will develop over the Atlantic today and pass to the North West of the UK tomorrow and into Tuesday. It will bring widespread strong winds and heavy rain from Monday morning for 24 hours.
The Met Office has issued severe weather warnings for wind and rain across northern areas of the UK for the next few days, bringing the possibility of flooding.
A spokesman for the Environment Agency said: “People are urged to check the flood risk situation for their journey and at their destination.
“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: “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.”
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