Ireland is set be plunged into an Arctic freeze from mid-December, as forecasters predict the coldest and snowiest spell in some years.

Following the havoc wreaked by Storm Clodagh over the weekend, meteorologists have now warned householders to prepare for plummeting mercury levels and heavy snowfall throughout the festive season, with three significant wintry spells beginning from the middle of the month.

James Madden, forecaster with Exacta Weather said, "Despite the relatively mild autumn weather in Ireland, the start to the meteorological winter and December is likely to be much more seasonal.

"There are likely to be a number of quite potent wintry blasts in December that potentially bring the coldest and snowiest spell in some years for Ireland, particularly for two periods around the mid-month point and into the final third of the month and up to the New Year.

"The run-up to Christmas is therefore likely to see some significant changes to some exceptional cold and widespread snow events for many parts of the country, as cold winds veer in from the north and east."

Madden said his team's latest long-term weather report backs up earlier predictions that Ireland could have snowfall on Christmas Day.

"Although we need to allow for some deviations in exact timing, there is every chance that these conditions will arrive prior to Christmas,” Madden said.

"Many parts to the north and east of the country are also likely to see lying snow on the ground for several days at the very least within this period, and these conditions will also spread to many other parts of the country, including southern and western areas, as winter takes a firm stronghold.”

Madden also warned there would be no respite from the prolonged cold spell throughout the remainder of winter, with conditions set to worsen and temperatures likely to drop to double negative periods in January and February.

"The cold and snow is likely to become the more dominant feature throughout the remainder of winter due to a colossal area of cold winter in the north Atlantic and how it will intrinsically alter

our weather patterns,” Madden said.

Meanwhile, Met Eireann said the forecast over the next few days will be miserable for the most part, with rain expected across most of the country until next Thursday, with a "dry and bright" day expected on Friday.

Mussenden Temple, Co. Derry: Ireland is set be plunged into an Arctic freeze from mid-December.Tourism Ireland