As forecasters predict more snow, bookmakers are slashing their odds, fearing a white Christmas could cost them up to £1m

The increasing prospect of a white Christmas forced bookmakers to slash their odds today after interest in the customary festive bet went into "overdrive".

The icy weather, which has already brought chaos to many parts of the country, is set to extend with forecasters predicting more snowfall.
Horses in the early morning snow on Holcombe Hill
© Christopher Thomond
Horses in the early morning snow on Holcombe Hill on the border between Greater Manchester and Lancashire.

Laura Gilchrist, forecaster at MeteoGroup, said: "Tonight a warm front of air from the west will hit a colder front, creating snow. By the early hours of tomorrow morning most parts of the country will be seeing either rain or snow."

"The worst hit areas will be the east of the UK, with heavy snow expected in Scotland and the North of England.

"There could be 10 to 20cm of snow on ground above 150 metres in Scotland and around 4cm on high areas in the North of England. It will be accompanied by strong winds, which could create blizzard conditions and drifting."

The predictions moved Ladbrokes to cut the chance of a white Christmas in London to 11-4 and 3-1 following another run of money.

The bookmaker was originally offering 7-1 for snow on December 25 in the capital. But plummeting temperatures means that a white Christmas could cost bookies up to £1m.

Ladbrokes spokesman Nick Weinberg said: "We're frozen with fear at the prospect of a white Christmas. Interest in the traditional festive wager has gone into overdrive this year."

Bets on Glasgow to see snow is now 2-1, from an opening quote of 8-1, Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester are at 4-1.

While a white Christmas may be bad for bookies, it is likely to be welcomed by youngsters, many of whom enjoyed a day off yesterday after snow led to the closure of around 200 schools in the north west of England.

But drivers faced difficult conditions after overnight snowfall and rain turned to ice as temperatures tumbled to as low as -4C in places.

In Scotland, emergency services urged motorists to take care after hundreds of accidents were reported. Many cities, like Bolton, also suffered from heavy traffic because of the poor weather.