Britain will have a mild Christmas, with temperatures expected to reach between eight and 11 degrees Centigrade across the country on Sunday, according to the Met Office.

In contrast to the heavy snowfalls and prolonged sub-zero temperatures last year, many parts of the country have been enjoying a relatively mild December.

The reason, the Met Office says, is because a high pressure system was blocking the normal westerly flow from the Atlantic last year, allowing in cold air from the continent instead.

This year, the mild westerly flow has been unimpeded.

The reason for these stark differences from one year to the next is down to natural variability in our weather, said a Met Office statement on Wednesday.

Last December was the coldest on record for the UK, with temperatures 5C below the long term average.

(Reporting by Waqas Qureshi; Editing by Steve Addison)