Airports: closed

It's far from sunbathing weather, but it helps.

A welcome bout of relatively milder weather is expected to travel across the Atlantic from the US before arriving in Ireland later this weekend, prompting a gradual improvement in conditions throughout this week.

Although the news may provide cold comfort to the many thousands of people who were left stranded during Christmas week, it at least raises the prospect that people travelling around the country and abroad for the New Year celebrations can look forward to less treacherous travel conditions.

Aer Lingus and Ryanair have put on extra flights from airports in the UK, France, Belgium, Poland and the USA in an attempt to ease significant backlogs arising from the last week's travel chaos.

Met Éireann forecaster Pat Clarke said once the warmer weather begins to take hold from Sunday, we will seen a continual improvement.

"It should lead to milder weather. But the trouble with it is that when the rain tries to come in, it will fall as freezing rain and snow, at least initially. There could be minor flooding in places too," he said.

"A lot of the heavy snow and compacted ice should have receded by the middle of the week, although it will remain on higher ground. But there will be a significant improvement."

His advice to people considering travelling to New Year celebrations is to "hang tough" and see if conditions improve before making a decision.

"We're probably heading for the coldest December on record. I'm 30 years in this and I've not seen it like this before," he added. "But I wouldn't imagine there will be any major problems weather-wise regarding flying out."

Siobhan Moore of the Dublin Airport Authority added that it was hopeful that flights would continue at full service throughout the week, but noted that this depended on no further heavy snowfalls taking place.