Much of Ireland may be covered in more than 5cm of snow on Thursday which could lie for several days, Met Éireann is predicting.
Some parts of the country could see even more snow – particularly higher and mountainous areas – but forecasters are remaining tight-lipped on just how much could fall.
Previous forecasts that milder weather towards the end of the week would melt any snow are also being revised, with latest charts suggesting it could lie into next weekend in parts.
While the cold snap threatens hazardous conditions countrywide, Liz Coleman, meteorologist with Met Éireann, agreed the predicted fall now looks enough for some respite from lockdown monotony with the prospect of children being able to sled, build snowmen and have snowball fights.
“Yeah, hopefully. It looks likely on Thursday,” she said.
Earlier forecasts had shown a “fair amount of snow showers” across the east of the country in the first half of this week but “they have kind of pulled back at the moment”, said Ms Coleman.
Latest predictions suggest only parts of north Leinster and Ulster will see a “light dusting” of snow showers coming in on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. It is expected these falls will be just 1cm or 2 cm.
There is also a chance of some snow showers in southern Munster during the first half of the week.
But all eyes are on a developing weather system moving up from the south-west “which will readily turn to snow” when it meets the cold air over the country.
“The models are still quite uncertain about the extent of it,” said Ms Coleman, adding that forecasters are “now not so certain” about previous predictions that the snowfall would be short-lived as milder temperatures arrived on Friday.
“Certain parts of the country might remain cold enough for snow to lie over next weekend,” she told The Irish Times.
“It does look like there could be greater than five centimetres (of snow) across the country on Thursday. But how long it will linger for is the question.”
Ms Coleman refused to be drawn on the higher estimates of snowfall because of some uncertainty, but was confident higher and mountainous areas would experience bigger accumulations.
Weather warnings for hazardous conditions are likely to be issued next week, she said.
Ahead of the expected snowfall, the country will be cold at night with even daytime temperatures struggling to get above freezing in parts on Tuesday and Wednesday.
“So if there has been any precipitation, there will be tricky driving conditions and a risk on untreated paths,” said Ms Coleman.