A FREAK combination of weather elements has left Ireland facing the prospect of a polar vortex and the worst Arctic weather in over 50 years.
One long-range forecaster warned that, in the worst case scenario, Ireland could face four weeks of freezing Siberian temperatures and snow falls of over 60cm until late January. Temperatures could sink as low as minus 10C.
However, Met Eireann warned that it is still too early to make such exact predictions.
The threat of Ireland facing its worst winter since 1963 hinges on three elements - heavy Siberian snow falls, Arctic weather disrupting warm mid-Atlantic currents and colder seas from Icelandic volcanic activity.
James Madden of Exactaweather.com made the ice prediction.
Central to what happens is whether the Gulf Stream, a warm air current that moderates Ireland's winter weather, is pushed further south than normal thereby exposing the country to harsh weather from the Arctic. This is called a polar vortex whereby freezing Siberian winds are effectively pushed over Ireland.
"Without Gulf Stream influence and its vital heat source we can expect a horrific winter with frequent blizzards, strong winds and extremely cold conditions," he said.
If the prediction is accurate, weather matching the Siberian chill of 2010 will arrive between Christmas and New Year's Day. At greatest risk will be northern areas, Dublin and the eastern seaboard though parts of Munster can also expect heavy snow falls.