First snow showers land around country as bitter cold snap set to continue

Cold conditions could last until December 17th with possibility of heavy snow afterwards as ‘warmer, moister air’ arrives

The first snow of winter began to fall across parts of the country late on Thursday evening. Social media users posted videos and photos of snow falling on higher ground such as in Co Donegal along with those in lower lying areas such as Co Meath, Maynooth in Co Kildare and in multiple parts of Co Dublin.

Earlier, Met Éireann forecast “treacherous conditions” on Thursday night and a severe frost setting in quickly along with some icy stretches along with bitterly cold temperatures of -5 to -2 degrees. Some freezing fog was also predicted to develop.

A yellow warning of snow/ice is in place for Dublin and Wicklow from 9pm on Thursday ending at 6am on Friday. The same warning is in place for Donegal until noon on Saturday.

There is also a status yellow low temperature warning in place which covers the whole country from 10pm until noon on Friday.

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Meanwhile, Keith Leonard of the National Directorate Fire and Emergency Management urged the public to check in on elderly and vulnerable neighbours during the current cold snap.

The public should also take care of “slips, trips and falls”, he said. Local authorities and Transport Infrastructure Ireland are salting and gritting roads around the country, in particular in the midlands.

Mr Leonard said that the available power supply was “well able” to cope with current conditions and that if there was any issue the first step would be to “throttle back” on supply to large commercial customers before having an impact on the public.

Met Éireann has indicated that most of the country will be dry on Friday with low winter sunshine.

“It will be cold with icy stretches, some lying snow, as well as freezing fog in parts. Wintry showers will affect some northern and western coastal counties, possibly thundery near the coast. Highest temperatures ranging from 0 to 4 degrees, in light northwest or variable breezes.”

Met Éireann says that it will be “bitterly cold both by day and night.” The cold weather is expected to continue in to next week but there is uncertainty as to the details at this stage.

On Friday, a widespread sharp to severe frost will set in along with icy stretches. While many areas will be dry, some showers of hail and snow will affect Atlantic coastal counties, but falling as rain near the coast. Lowest temperatures of -5 to zero degrees in light westerly or variable breezes.

Saturday will be generally dry with low winter sunshine but isolated wintry showers will also occur. Frost and ice lingering in unsheltered areas, along with some patches of freezing fog. Highest temperatures of only -1 to +4 degrees, in light northwesterly breezes.

On Saturday night dense freezing fog will form in parts leading to impaired visibility. A widespread sharp to severe frost is expected and icy stretches. Lowest temperatures of -5 to zero degrees.

On Sunday temperatures will struggle to rise above freezing for most with frost, ice and freezing fog persisting throughout the day. It will be mainly dry apart from isolated showers in some coastal margins. Highest temperatures of -2 to +2 degrees Celsius in light, variable breezes. Widespread frost and ice overnight with lows ranging from -6 to -2 degrees. Wintry showers of sleet and snow will move in closer to the Atlantic Coast.

Meanwhile, the Road Safety Authority (RSA) is advising all road users to prepare for hazardous conditions on roads and footpaths in the current spell of cold weather.

They have indicated that motorists “should expect icy roads and be extra cautious on untreated road surfaces.”

Road users should also watch out for black ice.

“If the road looks polished or glossy it could be, “black ice” one of winter’s worst hazards: Black Ice is difficult to see. It is nearly transparent ice that often looks like a harmless puddle or is overlooked entirely. The sheltered / shaded areas on roads, under trees and adjacent to high walls are prone to black ice.

Motorists are urged to remember that it takes longer to stop in icy conditions.

“Manoeuvre gently, slow down and increase your braking distance or ‘safe space’ by leaving an extra distance between you and the vehicle in front. Avoid too much steering, harsh braking, and acceleration.

Use the highest gear possible to avoid wheelspin. Select a low gear when travelling downhill especially if through bends. Check tyres and replace them if the tread depth falls below 3mm. Check they’re inflated to the correct tyre pressures.”

Motorists are also urged to watch out for vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists and allow extra space when overtaking them and to slow down in snow and icy conditions.”

“Slow down. Use all controls delicately and leave extra distance between you and the vehicle in front. In snow or sleet conditions, visibility will be reduced. Do not drive on the taillights of the vehicle in front. In heavy snow, use your fog lights, turn off your radio and open your window, so you can hear other traffic, especially at junctions.”

On Tuesday of this week Dublin Fire Brigade tweeted asking motorists to “take care on the roads” and “to expect ice” after a person was transported to hospital with non life threatening injuries following an incident off the N2. The accompanying snap was of a car that had overturned.

Separately, a person was taken to hospital on Friday with non life threatening injuries following a collision on the Douglas Road in Cork City at around 7.30am.

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times

Vivienne Clarke

Vivienne Clarke is a media monitor and reporter