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Big freeze Snow, ice and -10C lows as fears sudden​ warming in Arctic will bring Beast from East II

Met Eireann warned it will remain very cold from now until Sunday, with Friday forecast to be an especially cold night with ground temperatures as low as -10C.

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Icy blast from past: Commuters make their way in the snow in Lucan, Co Dublin, in 2018 as the first day of heavy snow from The Beast of the East hits. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin.

Icy blast from past: Commuters make their way in the snow in Lucan, Co Dublin, in 2018 as the first day of heavy snow from The Beast of the East hits. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin.

Icy blast from past: Commuters make their way in the snow in Lucan, Co Dublin, in 2018 as the first day of heavy snow from The Beast of the East hits. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin.

IRELAND is in the grips of a cold snap that will see periods of wintry showers, snow and ice for much of the rest of the week.

Temperatures plummeted to -7C in some areas last night, with a Status Yellow low temperature/Ice warning in place for ten counties today.

The warning is in place for all of Connacht, Cavan, Monaghan, Donegal, Longford and Clare until 10am this morning.

Met Eireann warned it will remain very cold from now until Sunday, with Friday forecast to be an especially cold night with ground temperatures as low as -10C.

And a sudden rise in temperatures in the Arctic could see a prolonged period of cold weather.

The phenomenon is being closely monitored here for fear it could spark weather similar to 2018’s Beast from the East.

The event, known as sudden stratospheric warming (SSW), can upset the polar vortex which keeps icy weather moving in a predictable pattern around the North Pole.

When that happens, it can disrupt the normal systems that influence winter weather in Ireland, Europe and much of the Northern Hemisphere.

An extreme example was the ‘Beast from the East’ that paralysed the country with snowstorms in February 2018.

Met Éireann has cautioned against presuming the worst, stressing it is too soon to know for sure how it might affect weather in the coming weeks.

The national forecaster said the SSW could actually kickstart our typical mild winter weather pattern which is currently held up in a cold spell.

However, it added: “It could also prolong and intensify the high latitude blocked setup leading to cold polar air masses flooding south into northern Europe or elsewhere in the mid latitudes.”

An SSW occurs when a dramatic rise in temperatures far above earth’s atmosphere knocks off balance the polar vortex below so that its movement slows or even reverses.

The cold air ‘slips’ southwards, where it blocks the mild air that comes from the west on the Atlantic jetstream, bringing sub-zero temperatures, icy winds and snow.

Met Éireann said, however: “Every SSW is different and less than half of them lead to colder conditions in Ireland.

“For example, the SSW in February 2018 led to the ‘Beast from the East’ and Storm Emma, whereas the SSW in January 2019 had no significant impact here.”

By contrast, the United States and Canada were severely hit by the 2019 event.

The difficulty of forecasting weeks ahead with accuracy is illustrated by the fact that confirmation of the SSW came just as Met Éireann issued its first extended-range weather forecast.

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A snowboarder and their dog making the most of the fresh powder snow at the Wicklow Gap. Photo: Garry O'Neill

A snowboarder and their dog making the most of the fresh powder snow at the Wicklow Gap. Photo: Garry O'Neill

A snowboarder and their dog making the most of the fresh powder snow at the Wicklow Gap. Photo: Garry O'Neill


In a new service that began yesterday, a forecast for the month ahead is being issued each Tuesday and Friday.

The first one anticipates the continuation of the current cold, mainly dry spell for the rest of this week and much of next week, with temperatures falling well below zero in parts of the west and north-west.

After that, a week of more unsettled and wetter weather with normal temperatures is indicated.

The remainder of the month and the start of February are expected to get wetter and probably milder than normal.

Met Éireann has qualified the forecast by warning that confidence in the accuracy diminishes with each week.

“Monthly forecasts can at times provide an insight into weather patterns in the month ahead. However, they should not be used for specific planning purposes as they have generally low skill compared with the 10-day forecast. This is because forecasts beyond one week become increasingly uncertain due to the chaotic nature of the atmosphere.”

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