The buran, a powerful north-easterly that sweeps across North and Central Asia, gets as far as Italy only every five to seven years, according to weather site Il Meteo.
It's expected to reach Italy in the next week, for the first time since 2012.
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“The buran's arrival in Italy always brings freezing conditions to several regions, especially the Adriatic Coast and the north-east, the most exposed zones,” the site's forecasters said.
Many areas could see snowfall, they said, with the cold expected to set in around February 25th. Temperatures are expected to fall sharply and remain below the seasonal average until at least the first week of March.
Sub-zero temperatures are forecast in the north, even by day, and by night are expected to drop as low as -12 degrees Celsius in the Po Valley. Even further south, Rome is likely to see nighttime temperatures of -5.
Meanwhile a patch of low pressure moving in from the Atlantic could interact with the icy air of the buran to bring widespread snowfall across much of the north and parts of central Italy, including Tuscany and the Adriatic Coast.
The Emilia Romagna region is expected to see heavy snow even before the weekend, while parts of the centre already had fresh snow on Thursday.
The buran's effects will be felt all over Europe, as sudden stratospheric warming – a rise in air temperature above the North Pole – disturbs the jet stream and allows cold winds from the east to blow in.
The cold snap follows one of Italy's warmest Januarys on record, with temperatures of more than 19 degrees in Rome and 24 degrees in Palermo.