| 9.3°C Dublin

Big freeze on the way as temperatures to plunge

GET ready for temperatures to drop by as much as 17 degrees in one day as winter makes a belated return.

We have been basking in unseasonably warm weather after the thermometer hit up to 13C during the New Year period.

But a cold spell that could last up to three weeks is about to bring a distinctly wintry feel as temperatures drop below zero.

Met Eireann said that there is a very cold night in store tomorrow night, as air temperatures could drop to a bracing -4C.

The weekend is set to be "dramatically colder" than it has been with temperatures only about 3 to 8C with some night frost.

Forecasters are predicting a return to the normal cold weather we expect at this time of year, as Scandinavian winds sweep across the country and send temperatures plummeting below zero.

Met Eireann's John Eagleton said: "Colder temperatures are ahead due to easterly winds with colder pools of air within it.

"It will be a change from recent milder weather and similar to the cold period at the start of December.

"We expect Thursday night to fall to minus two or minus three degrees celcius, with weekend sleet in the east coast."

In early December, a Siberian weather front called the Beast from the East brought temperatures as low as -8C, only for Christmas to stay mild for most of the country.

The forecast is a worry for keen gardeners who fear plants tricked into acting like spring is here will be killed off by the frost.

While Britain's Met Office, which also does forecasts for Ireland, said freezing weather will be around for three weeks, milder temperatures may return next week.

But the indications from the Met Office is that any relief will be short lived because colder conditions will prevail between January 21 and February 4, bringing the "risks of colder than average conditions and wintry weather".

Temperatures were set to begin their descent from today onwards. And there's be rain and sleet by the weekend.