Arctic conditions disrupt transport

 

Commuters endured another day of Arctic temperatures and widespread transport disruption today as the severe weather maintained a tight grip on the country.

All routes into Dublin city remained extremely icy this evening as motorists were again urged to avoid unnecessary journeys.

Dublin Bus said it was operating a limited service on all corridors, and encouraged passengers to travel as early as possible. It said last departures on all outbound and inbound routes would leave at 8pm.

Dublin airport remains open, but a number of flights were cancelled today. Due to the adverse weather, Knock airport has suspended all operations for the day.

Iarnród Éireann said all trains are running despite the conditions but warned passengers that there is a very heavy demand for rail, Dart and Luas services during this evening’s rush hour.

The majority of Bus Éireann services operated as normal today with some delays. However some services were affected, particularly in east Leinster. Full details are available at www.buseireann.ie

There appears to be no let-up in the severe weather with Met Éireann predicting more snow in northern and western parts tonight, with overnight temperatures dropping to between minus five and minus 11 tonight.

Temperatures last night fell to as low as minus 16 in Co Carlow and minus 12 in Co Kildare.

Commuters have been warned there is no sign of thaw or any return to mild weather. The next seven days is “looking rather ominous” because the Siberian windflow and Arctic temperatures will remain for at least the next week, Met Éireann's Vincent O’Shea said. “There is no scope for a return in mild weather and no end in sight."

Motorists in Leinster are being urged to avoid unnecessary journeys due to severe ice overnight. Road conditions on main routes around Dublin and in city centre areas, as well as the suburbs and housing estates were treacherous earlier today, according to AA Roadwatch. It advised drivers that braking distance in ice can be 10 times greater than normal.

All routes into Dublin city are extremely icy, particularly the M50 southbound from the M1/M50 to J9 Red Cow, the M1 in both directions from Dublin Port Tunnel to J2 Dublin Airport, the N3 Navan Road from Ashtown to the M50 and the N4 Lucan Road inbound from Ballyfermot.

Dublin City Council has redeployed 500 staff to assist the staff in its roads maintenance department to remove ice and snow from areas of high pedestrian use, including the Grafton Street and O’Connell Street areas. Some 200 staff from the parks department are working in different areas of the city, with a particular focus on the main hospitals.

Drivers in Wicklow are urged to avoid Wicklow Gap, Sally Gap, Glencree, Delgany and Rathdrum, while the Roundwood to Kilmacanogue Road is reported to be impassable.

In Carlow, the M9 is down to one lane both ways between Kilcullen and Carlow while in Meath, there are severe delays on the N3 at Clonee, and the N2 is down to one lane in both directions at Ashbourne.

Motorists are advised to avoid Kildare, Newbridge and Naas towns, and also the Rathbridge area. HGVs cannot access Kill Hill on the Monasterevin to Athy Road due to severe ice.

Dublin Port said it remains open and there has been no disruption to services. It said all roads within the port estate were gritted this morning. All passengers travelling by ferry are urged to allow sufficient time to reach the port and to heed travel advice from the relevant authorities.

The weather will remain mostly dry in the coming days but temperatures as low as minus 10 may be recorded. However, there is expected to be more snowfall on Sunday and early next week.

Hundreds of schools are remaining closed after the Christmas holidays today because of the hazardous weather conditions. Some schools texted parents to say they would not be reopening while others used radio stations to pass on the message.

Schools confirmed as being closed are in Donegal, Sligo, Mayo, Galway, Limerick, Kerry, Cork, Wicklow, Wexford, Carlow, Kilkenny, Tipperary, Kildare, Westmeath, Laois and Offaly. A number of schools in Dublin and other cities will also be closed.

In the south, over 30 primary and post-primary schools - mainly in mid, north and west Cork - are set to remain closed tomorrow as subzero temperatures look set to make for continued dangerous driving conditions, particularly on smaller county roads.

According to a Bus Éireann, there was some curtailment on a number of city services particularly in the north west of the city while the services to both Glenville and Carrignavar in the county had to be cancelled due to icy roads.

Gardaí in Macroom, Kanturk and Fermoy all urged motorists to drive with caution as while main roads were passable, many minor back roads were quite dangerous as freezing temperatures ensured that overnight frost and ice never thawed.

Cork to date has escaped the heavy snow falls experienced in many parts of the country, but householders around the county were last night bracing themselves for possible snow as Met Éireann was forecasting snow falls could spread to the coastal counties of the south west.

Waste, postal and social welfare services were also affected by the weather. Weekly social welfare payments to some 27,000 people which were due to be delivered by An Post today have been delayed.

The Road Safety Authority has cancelled driving tests countrywide.

The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) has urged workers to be cautious and not take unnecessary risks in the cold. “These conditions are some of the worst we’ve seen for many years and pose significant extra risk for workers, particularly those who drive for a living and work outdoors," said HSA chief executive Martin O’Halloran.

Irish Water Safety advised parents to keep their children away from frozen lakes, rivers and canals.

Fingal County Council has warned homeowners and farmers in north Dublin to stop leaving taps running as reservoirs were rapidly draining. It is believed people worried about frozen pipes have been leaving water to flow from taps to keep the cold at bay.

Fingal said water supplies from the Ballycoolen reservoir were critically low. “If supplies in this reservoir remain at current low levels the council will have to reduce water pressure in all areas until water supply level returns to normal levels,” a spokeswoman said.