Bookies slash odds of white Christmas but experts remain cagey
Predicting a white Christmas in November may get a frosty reception from most, but that hasn't stopped bookies slashing odds for festive snowfall.
The Met Office says it is still far too early for an accurate forecast, but William Hill and Paddy Power have both set odds of 5/1 for snow at Belfast International Airport.
Bookmakers Coral have also offered odds of 4/5 for a White Christmas in the UK.
A Met Office spokesperson said forecasts aren't made beyond 30 days in advance, but "cold and unsettled weather" is expected in early December.
Despite a lack of endorsement from the experts, Harry Aitkenhead from Coral said he remained confident.
"The big winter freeze is about to get underway and there's a definite chance of the next few months breaking the record for the coldest winter since records began," he told the Daily Star.
"Snow is set to sprinkle over the UK in the next week and it's raising excitement about the prospect of a white Christmas this year. We currently make it odds on that we do get a dash of the white stuff somewhere in the UK on the big day."
The romantic image of a white Christmas, encouraged by scores of festive films, usually involves a magical landscape heaped with deep snow.
Standards set by the Met Office, however, are far more lenient with the only requirement being a single flake of snow falling anywhere in the UK on December 25. Traditionally, only the Met Office building in London was used to define a white Christmas but the locations have increased due to a demand for seasonal betting.
Belfast International Airport serves as the main marker for Northern Ireland. Other sites across the UK include Buckingham Palace, Aberdeen (Pittodrie Stadium, Aberdeen FC), Edinburgh Castle, Coronation Street in Manchester and the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
Data can also be analysed from Met Office observation stations to give a more complete picture of where snow has fallen.
While hopes are always high for December 25, snow is actually far more likely to fall between January and March.
According to the Met Office, climate change has reduced the odds even further, with higher average temperatures more likely over land and sea.