It's official - Edinburgh is in the midst of one of the coldest Februarys on record, and the icy conditions are set to stay with us for up to a month.

Weather experts say that with temperatures as low as -7C, and daily averages fluctuating between 2C and -3C, the city is in line to record its first sub-zero average February in more than a decade.

Yet while forecasters predict the mercury will struggle to climb above freezing for weeks to come, it is nowhere near Edinburgh's worst winter.

Records show that back in 1947, the average temperature for the area over February was a frosty -3C.

The closest the Capital has come to a February that severe since then was back in 1986, when the temperatures dropped to an average -1.9C for the month.

In recent years the trend has been for milder winters, making the current cold snap all the more unexpected.

Edinburgh was again covered with a blanket of snow yesterday, with forecasters predicting the wintry weather and snow showers would continue for the rest of the month.

A spokesman for the Met Office said: "Certainly in recent years we have seen the average temperature of January and February rise, so we are getting used to milder months at the start of the year.

"As a result, there has been almost no lying snow around this time of year, which is why this is a bit unusual, and more of a shock.

"The last two years have been especially mild. There is no sign of the cold weather front moving on anywhere for at least a few weeks, so it looks like the low temperatures could continue, which means the average temperature could be even lower."

As the UK is gripped by one of the coldest months in recent memory, on the other side of the world Australia is recording temperatures of up to 46C, something which has not been seen there in almost a century.

In addition, the more tropical parts of the continent are suffering major floods as a result of relentless downpours.

This kind of extreme weather, with colder winters and hotter summers seen around the world, is, the Met Office says, in line with some climate change predictions.

Dr Chris Merchant, a senior lecturer in meteorology at the University of Edinburgh, said that while recent cold weather in the UK may seem severe, it was not , on the far broader scale of the world climate, an extreme.

"We are not having 'extreme' weather here in the UK, although it would be fair to say that it is a little unusual, as the winters in Scotland have been getting steadily milder over the past three decades," he said.

"There are so many different factors that can affect the weather though. For example, a lot can depend on the ocean being colder or warmer than usual in different places.

"The weather over a month really is just weather though - climate is something that is measured over a 30-year period - so we can't read too much into this."