St Patrick’s Day is set to become St P-Arctic’s Day with weather forecasters predicting a white national holiday for Ireland.

As an unprecedented cold snap continues to cause havoc across the country, wind chill has brought the air temperature down as low as 12 degrees Fahrenheit in parts of the country.

The Irish Independent newspaper has reported that snow now looks likely on St Patrick’s Day.

Temperatures were lowest in Donegal and the Midlands as winter made an unexpected return with traffic accidents reported across Ireland.

Flights and ferry sailings were also cancelled as the Siberian conditions hit the East Coast particularly hard.

Irish weather website editor Mark Dunphy has warned that the bitter cold will continue.

He said: “Wind chill is determined by the air temperature and the strength of the wind.

“While much of the country experienced daytime highs of only -1C to 2C, around 30 degrees Fahrenheit, wind gusts of up to 75kmh were recorded widely, so the real-feel would be very raw indeed.

“Temperatures will remain below normal this weekend. There will be scattered showers of rain and hail with some sleet and snow in parts of Ulster and north Connacht, particularly on St Patrick’s Day and again on bank holiday Monday.”

The report says that northerly winds will make it feel colder for anyone out and about at traditional St Patrick’s Day parades.

Dunphy said: “Hail, sleet and snow are not uncommon during mid-March and there have been at least two occasions in the past 20 years during which snow has fallen on St Patrick’s Day.”

The state weather service Met Eireann has confirmed that below average temperatures will continue for the rest of the week.

Forecaster Joan Blackburn said: “The models are showing signs of improvement later in the week, but it will be colder than usual.”