Northern Ireland winter will be even worse than last year
A white Christmas may be a safe bet this year as another cold winter with plenty of snow being predicted by forecasters.
Last winter was Northern Ireland's worst in a century with record freezing temperatures, but an alert has been issued that this year could be even worse.
The blustery winds and falling leaves in early September have signalled the end of what was the coldest summer in two decades.
Now weather forecasters are predicting a brief autumn before we embark on another severe winter, with the first snow predicted to fall as early as October.
James Madden, a long-range forecaster, said the severe winter could have "huge implications" for the UK and Ireland's infrastructure.
Ice and snow caused chaos on roads and pavements last year in Northern Ireland. Thousands were left without water when household pipes that had been frozen burst over Christmas. Mr Madden said: "As we head towards winter, I expect to see the first signs of some moderate to heavy snowfalls as early as October or November in certain parts of the UK.
"I expect December, January, and February to experience below average temperatures, with the heaviest snowfalls within the time frame of November to January across many parts of the UK.
"The areas we expect to be worst hit throughout include the vast majority of Scotland and the Scottish Highlands, northern England and Northern Ireland."
The grim forecast comes as fuel costs are set to soar with energy companies increasing their prices this autumn.
Last December was the coldest in 100 years with temperatures quite regularly falling to between -10 and -20°C overnight.
- December 2010 was the coldest recorded December in Northern Ireland. It was also the sunniest.
- The mean temperature last December was a chilly 0.6°C
- The coldest place in Northern Ireland was Castlederg, Co Tyrone, known cynically as 'Castleiceberg', on December 23 when temperatures plummeted to -18.7°C
Hot tips for winter
- Make sure you know how to turn off the water. This avoids damage if pipes freeze.
- Have a supply of winter fuel to avoid the cold if the heating stops working.
Have disposable BBQ trays at home in case the cooker stops working due to power cuts.
- Buy a shovel and have a bag of salt in stock to keep paths clear and safe.
- Get batteries to keep torches powered.
- Have a water container or two in the event of cut-offs.