Polar bear on O'Connell Street, Dublin - This has officially been the coldest December on record
This has been the coldest start to winter for the last 130 years, when records began. According to Met Eireann, Ireland's meteorological service, December has officially been the coldest month ever on record.

Last Monday County Mayo recorded low temperatures of -17.2C (1F).

The latest snap is expected to last beyond Christmas Day and a thaw is expected to set in slowly on St.Stephen's Day December 26th.

Even then there will be heavy rains and high winds, and driving conditions will be even more risky say the experts.

Dublin Airport was closed again yesterday for most of the day when an unexpected snow storm hit.

The weather continued to play havoc with effort to get home for Christmas by thousands coming from America, Australia and many other destinations.

In New York and Boston and Chicago Aer Lingus were warning passengers to check with the airline before departing for the airport as yesterday's unexpected storm had again thrown schedules up in the air.

The cold snap all around Europe has once again raised questions about whether global warming is real or a manufactured threat.

© Irishweatheronline Guinness Storehouse, Dublin
However, despite the frozen European continent, according to NASA the world has never been so warm. NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies has said that 2010 is set to be the third warmest year on record with 2009 in second place.

Although this might sound impossible as Ireland's airports are closed and roads blocked with snow climatologist, John Sweeney, head of the Irish Climate Analysis and Research Units at NUI Maynooth, told the Irish Independent that this is because people confuse weather for climate.

He said "What's happening in Europe is a very small proportion of the globe so we shouldn't imagine that there's a contradiction between a global trend that is very substantial and a short-term weather event, which although very severe, is confined to a small part of the globe.

"Winters tend to go in cold clusters in Ireland, we had one last winter and we have one this winter. We may have one next winter but it doesn't alter the overall trend of the globe as a whole," he said.

He said the freeze was related to changes occurring in the jet stream, which is the weather system that brings mild and moist whether to Ireland.

Mr Sweeney said "2010 has been characterized by a jet stream which is much more loopy and wave-like and when that happens we tend to get a lot of anomalies so we've been having extremely strange conditions...If current conditions were to be replicated in July or June, with the same kind of wind directions and wind strengths we would have a heat wave."
© IrishWeatherOnline Stacks Mountain, Kerry
© UnknownSnow Island: Tragumna, Castlehaven, Cork