Blizzards, heavy snow and freezing rain will hit the UK this weekend, bringing treacherous conditions for drivers and shoppers on one of the busiest weekends before Christmas.
Amber warnings, alerting people to heavy snow and ice which could cause travel disruption and power cuts, have been issued for parts of Scotland and the north of England and Midlands as a result.
Other warnings over bad weather have been issued for most of rest of the country.
A spokeswoman for the Met Office said: ‘At the moment it looks like in the days leading up to Christmas it’s likely to be unsettled with Atlantic weather systems affecting the country, bringing rain and strong winds.
‘There will be quite severe weather tomorrow.
‘It could have some impact on people’s plans this weekend. Freezing rain is not that common in this country, so that could bring quite treacherous driving conditions.’
Despite bookmakers shortening their odds on a white Christmas, the Met Office says it is still too early to tell as they predict seven days in advance.
The last widespread white Christmas was in 2010 when 83% of monitoring stations recorded snow on the ground – the highest ever recorded.
A white Christmas is defined as one snowflake seen falling in the 24 hours of December 25 somewhere in the UK.
The Met Office uses sites across the UK, including Buckingham Palace, Aberdeen FC and Coronation Street in Manchester, to check for snowfall.
2015 was also a white Christmas, with 10% of stations recording snow falling, though none reported snow lying on the ground.
Snow is more likely in January and March than in December, with snow or sleet falling an average 3.9 days in December, compared to 5.3 days in January, 5.6 days in February and 4.2 days in March.
Bookmaker Ladbrokes is offering odds of 2/7 for snowfall anywhere in the UK on Christmas day.
Alex Apati, of Ladbrokes, said: ‘It’s looking increasingly likely we’ll see snow on Christmas Day in the UK, with the odds dropping as fast as the temperatures.’
William Hill said Aberdeen is the most likely city to have a white Christmas in 2018.
Spokesman Rupert Adams said: ‘The last 24 hours have been very busy as the first real chill of the winter has hit.
‘The odds now suggest a real chance of a white Christmas, with the Scottish cities very much the favourites.’