OUR Indian summer is expected to end this week as experts predict the return of single-digit temperatures.
While the last fortnight has been unusually warm with temperatures reaching as high as 20C, Met Eireann forecasters have predicted that they would drop substantially this week.
"We did have an exceptionally warm spell over the last few days, but in the next few days the weather will get colder than normal," a Met Eireann spokeswoman told the Herald.
"Today will be extremely windy and it will rain heavily in the west and north of the country.
"On Wednesday, temperatures will be around freezing level -- between 0C and 4C.
"It's too soon to say if we're facing another Big Freeze, we might have a better idea next week."
Last year's Big Freeze started in mid-November but long-range weather forecasters for Exacta Weather have warned that it could come early with light snowfalls this month and heavy ones from next month.
Meanwhile, the Herald can reveal that Irish stores have increased their stock of winter goods by as much as 50pc as they gear up for another winter of exceptional demand.
Shoe grips, snow boots and winter tyres are just some of the popular items that ran out during last year's cold spell.
Lifestyle stores The Great Outdoors, Snow + Rock, and 53 Degrees North told the Herald that they had all received an unprecedented number of queries regarding their products this year.
They have increased their overall stock by 20pc on average and as much as 50pc for certain items such as shoe grips.
"We didn't sell any shoe grips until October in 2010 but this year we had dozens of order in September," Snow + Rock manager Magda Wasilewaska said.
"Last year, we had major shortages of cold weather clothing and footwear because people rushed to buy them at once when it started to snow," a 53 Degrees North spokesperson confirmed.
Car servicing company Advance Pitstop has revealed that it had been forced to pre-order winter tyres for Irish customers for the first time in years.