Snow joke -- Big Freeze is making a comeback

Clodagh Sheehy

Just when we thought the worst was over, the arctic conditions are on their way back.

The familiar icy conditions on roads, sleet and sub-zero temperatures are all in store for tonight with widespread snow by Friday.

It is not, however, expected to be quite as cold as recent weeks, when December officially became the coldest month on record as temperatures plummeted to the lowest ever seen.

Met Eireann has warned that more cold weather is on the way, with temperatures as low as -4C tonight and up to 10cm of snow forecast to fall on Friday.

Local authorities are prepared since a shipment of 8,000 tonnes of salt arrived at Shannon yesterday and a further 6,000 tonnes are due next week.

"We expect a weather front to appear on the south coast late on Thursday which will push up through the country. That suggests there will be snow," said forecaster Eoin Sherlock.

"Friday will be 2C to 4C during the day but it's above zero which is important. At night-time on Friday the minimum will be -1C in the north-west. We're hopeful the rain will wash the snow away."

Although next week is not expected to be as cold as recent weeks, the weather will be very unsettled, with rain drifting in from the atlantic and strong winds.


Straide in Co Mayo won the honour of the coldest recorded temperature for December reaching -17.5C on Christmas Day.

In Dublin on Christmas Day temperatures fell to -15.7C, which is the coldest temperature for the area since records began more than 50 years ago.

And we certainly had a white Christmas, with 27cm of snow on the ground at Casement Aerodrome.

During the month, air temperatures were up to six degrees lower, on average, in places and the country had more than twice the normal number of days of air frost.

Met Eireann's monthly weather summary shows that for nine consecutive days last month temperatures failed to go above freezing in some weather stations.

Ballyhaise in Co Cavan recorded average daily temperatures of -1.4C, the lowest ever.

The only bright side last month was that overall the month was drier and sunnier than normal and both Belmullet and Valentia Observatory recorded their sunniest December.

Met Eireann said that while 2010 began and ended with spells of exceptionally cold weather, the months between April and September were warmer than usual with total rainfall below normal.

The highest temperature of 25.6C was recorded in Carlow on May 23.