Brrrrr: 'Beast from the East' set to plunge temperatures below freezing

Brrrrr: 'Beast from the East' set to plunge temperatures below freezing

Northern Ireland is expected to escape the worst of the weather as the "Beast from the East" makes its way across Europe.

Met Éireann said it is expecting much colder weather to set in from Sunday night while forecasters in the United Kingdom and elewhere say the cold snap next week will be caused by what is known as a "sudden stratospheric warming" in the polar vortex.

"There will not be a great deal of snow but more should fall overnight into Wednesday".

Forecasters are eyeing the possibility of less-cold air eventually moving north from the Mediterranean to drive icy easterly winds away from Britain.

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Met Office spokesman Alex Burkill the the extent of the chill will be comparable to March 2013, when SSW caused the second coldest March in more than 100 years.

"This weather could increase the health risks to vulnerable patients and disrupt the delivery of services", the Met Office said. "Indeed, there is potential for this cold spell to be the coldest for several years in the south".

Forecasters say the crippling cold could last for several days and into the following week even as spring begins next Thursday on 1 March.

Met Éireann says it will be dry settled but cold for the remainder of the weekend but a return to winter is its forecast.

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UK Met Office spokesman Oli Claydon said: "There is a very big, very cold pool of air that circulates around the North Pole - sudden stratospheric warming, as it says on the tin, is when the stratosphere suddenly warms", he said.

A rare weather phenomenon called Sudden Stratospheric Warming (SSW) is to blame for the bone-chilling conditions sweeping the United Kingdom and Europe, forecasters say.

"Weather computer models, which previously showed marked variation, are now aligning, giving greater confidence about the timing and location of the cold weather".

And on Tuesday temperatures will struggle to get above a numbing -6C during the daytime.

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