Snow fell in London and much of the southeast on Wednesday, pushing bookmakers to slash the odds on a white Christmas as forecasters warned of heavy snowfalls later in the week, reports Agence France Presse.
Christmas shoppers on Oxford Street and across the capital watched the snowflakes falling thickly after a bitterly cold night, with temperatures dropping below freezing.
The snow did not settle and was expected to turn to sleet and rain later in the day. But more snow was expected on Thursday, forecasters said.
With temperatures set to plunge further, the Meteorlogical Office issued a severe weather warning for the east and southeast this Friday.
Up to 10cm of snow is expected to fall on low ground, rising to 20cm on the hills, with the travel networks likely to be affected, forecasters said.
The early snowfall saw most bookies slash the odds on a white Christmas, and one bookmaker even agreed an early payout for punters who put money on a Yuletide whiteout, AFP reported.
"With just nine days to go until Christmas, the first snowfall has put everyone in a real festive cheer," bookmaker Paddy Power said in a statement. "It's been a tough year on everybody's pockets so why wait until December 25th to receive your winnings when our early Christmas present means you can start celebrating early!"
Paddy Power said it had taken over 4 000 bets on a White Christmas and was set to pay out some GBP 50 000.
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