Ireland could yet experience a second successive White Christmas as plummeting temperatures look set to disrupt the finale to the festive shopping season.
Weather experts have warned the current cold snap will continue into Christmas week and could see snowfall across the country.
Temperatures are expected to plunge to minus four this weekend with more black ice and frost set to cause havoc on Irish roads.
The Government weather agency Met Eireann has also predicted that temperatures will drop even further from Saturday night onwards.
A year after the arctic blizzards of last December, bookies are preparing to pay out again on a white Christmas.
Forecasters say wintry showers with hail, sleet and snow, will fall across the country on Saturday with more showers in the west and north as the chilly northerly winds persist.
They also predict that night temperatures will plummet to as low as minus 4C with widespread severe frost and icy patches. Sunday’s weather will be similar, with further showers and low temperatures.
Police are advising motorists to drive with extra care while the National Roads Authority is adamant it has learnt the lessons of last winter and has enough salt on hand to treat road surfaces.
NRA spokesman Sean O’Neill said: “We have plenty of salt. We currently have 150,000 tonnes of salt available for gritting national roads, and an additional 60,000 for local authorities to use on regional and local roads.”
Heavy snow has been reported in Offaly while icy roads in Cork and Tipperary are described as dangerous. Heavy rain meanwhile has led to flooding in parts of Donegal.
Road Safety Authority spokesman Noel Brett said: “We need to be prepared for these severe weather conditions of stormy winds, patches of ice and snow showers.”