Ireland and the UK are bracing themselves for the coldest snap of weather since 2010.

But Donegal may escape the worst of the forecast snow and plunging temperatures.

The bitterly cold weather front that is moving across Europe - and which has been called the "Beast from the East" looks set to cause chaos in Britain, with the eastern parts of Ireland getting the brunt of it as well.

Temperatures in Donegal could plunge to below minus eight degrees in some places.

But the county may escape the worst of the heavy snowfalls that are heading towards Ireland and the UK.

The clip below gives an indication of what is in store, and while it relates specifically to the UK, it gives an indication of what is in store.

Meanwhile, Irish Weather Online is predictiing potentially heavy snowfalls from Monday night to at least Friday of next week.

It has posted the following forecasts.

MONDAY ... Sunny intervals to start the day, then variable cloud developing, turning sharply colder during the day, possible snow or sleet showers by late afternoon or evening near south and east coasts. Morning temperatures rising slowly to about 3 to 5 C, then falling during the afternoon in eastern counties, with a slight risk of snow or sleet showers by sunset, winds east-southeast 50 to 80 km/hr.

TUESDAY ... Windy and very cold with risk of snow developing across eastern and southern counties, morning lows -7 to -3 C, afternoon highs -1 to +3 C, winds east to northeast 40 to 70 km/hr adding a chill factor (feeling like -6 C). Heavy snow is likely to develop late in the day across Leinster. 5 to 15 cms possible there. This snow may be accompanied by thunder. Flurries or light snow could occasionally develop further south and west. Hail and sleet showers may be reported near sea level on east coast but snow will dominate any distance inland.

WEDNESDAY ... Windy and very cold with widespread snow, some of it heavy at times with thunder possible. A few sunny breaks in north Connacht, Donegal and north Clare, but flurries could invade there too, in winds east to northeast 50 to 80 km/hr. Morning lows generally -4 C but could be as low as -8 C in a few parts of the northwest. Afternoon highs -4 to +1 C. Snowfalls of 10 to 30 cms are possible in Leinster and 5 to 20 cms in some parts of Munster, inland southeast Connacht, and much of Ulster except likely less in Donegal. Near blizzard conditions are possible, and severe disruptions to travel may begin to intensify (with an extension of that in the following outlook).

The forecast for early hours of Thursday this week, according to Windy.com

THURSDAY and FRIDAY present a forecast challenge in that low pressure could be moving up from the south to clash with the very cold air, and this could set off a prolonged interval of heavy snowfalls, amounts between 10 and 50 cms are possible in this period but forecasts could change closer to the time. If the low does not get close enough to participate, it will be more of a continuation of the east coast and occasionally south coast snowfalls (perhaps 10 to 30 cm) in cold east to northeast winds 60 to 90 km/hr, so the low would be mostly a cause for snow to spread further west and north. Another variable is that the low could push close enough to Ireland by Friday to change the snow to sleet or rain, at least for a time, some model scenarios have this happening only near the southeast coast with snow gradually tapering off as the low moves away by Saturday.

The extended OUTLOOK is for one of two possible scenarios, depending on which group of guidance models proves to be correct. Either we see a gradual end to the cold spell with rain at times, fast melting of the snow pack with possible local flooding, and milder temperatures (to 7 C) or the cold hangs on in modified form, keeping the snow pack from melting very fast, in sleety bouts of light snow or rain and temperatures around 3 C. With that second scenario, cold air is not pushed very far north and could return for a second engagement around 7th of March or so.

At any rate, we can be fairly confident of extremely cold weather with localized snowfalls mostly in Leinster, south and east Munster and east Ulster for three or four days, and moderately confident of a heavy snowfall to follow that by Thursday night into Friday, but what happens from there on remains low confidence and so you could look for clarity on that by perhaps Thursday.

My local weather on Saturday turned out sunny in the morning then light snow developed, becoming a bit heavier tonight (3-5 cms expected here on Sunday before clearing again on Monday). It remains rather mild in eastern North America with rain spreading through the inland northeast today, highs on the U.S. east coast back above 10 C again.

For more details see https://www.facebook.com/IrishWeatherOnline/

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