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Arctic-like conditions could last into next week

Louise and Alyssa Smyth make their way home in a snowstorm as the cold Arctic snap named ‘The Beast from the East’ left its mark on Omagh on Wednesday. JB64

The ‘Beast from the East’ brought driving snow and a bitter wind to local communities this week, but the worst could be yet to come.

While sub-zero temperatures and snow storms hit the county on Tuesday and Wednesday, forecasters say it could become colder still.

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Another bitterly cold day is expected today (Thursday) as a biting easterly wind drives in snow showers. And while temperatures will sit at around -1C throughout the day, it has been said the wind chills will make it feel more like -15C across Tyrone, as a continuing icy blast of freezing Siberian air heads westwards.

Unfortunately, this biting cold-snap is predicted to remain as we go into the weekend, with snow warnings forecast on daily basis, right through to the start of next week.

The Met Office has confirmed the onset of this Sudden Stratospheric Warming (SSW), which pushes freezing air towards Britain and Ireland, is due to surging temperatures in the stratosphere over the North Pole.

The process causes the polar vortex – a mass of cold air in the upper atmosphere – to split, giving rise to brutally cold conditions in Europe and the US.

Added to this rare phenomenon from the east, is the arrival of ‘Storm Emma’ from the south, bringing gale-force winds, heavy snow and bitterly cold temperatures.

While this blanket of ‘freezing rain’ is anticipated to hit southern England and Wales hardest, a movement of the winds may see Emma start heading towards Northern Ireland.

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