Freezing weather leads to 143 flight cancellations and hazardous driving conditions

Dublin Airport urges passengers due to travel in the coming days to check flight status in advance

Dublin Airport is refusing to rule out more flights being grounded in the run-up to Christmas because of the cold snap after 143 flights were cancelled on Friday.

A status yellow weather warning remains in place from Met Éireann, with potential freezing fog in parts of Munster and Leinster. Met Éireann said patches of freezing fog will persist through this afternoon, causing potentially hazardous driving conditions.

By 9.30pm Friday evening, 74 inbound and 69 outbound services were axed because of what airport operators daa blamed on “delays de-icing aircraft”.

Kevin Cullinane, daa group head of communications, said de-icing was the responsibility of airliners themselves and in the freezing temperatures since early morning “ice was forming again” in planes as soon as they had been treated.


Because some needed to be de-iced a second time, a backlog built up during the day.

The vast majority of flights cancelled were Ryanair and Aer Lingus.

Mr Cullinane said although the weather was forecast to be milder into Saturday, the freezing temperatures predicted to remain until at least mid-week meant he could not rule out further disruption.

“For that reason, we are advising passengers due to travel out of Dublin over the coming days to check with their airlines in advance,” he told The Irish Times.

“A lot of people (who were due to travel today) only found out after their flight was cancelled.”

On social media, a number of passengers impacted by the cancellations vented their annoyance.

Mr Cullinane said Dublin Airport’s operations team worked continuously throughout Friday to treat runways, aprons, stands and walkways to prevent the build-up of ice.

“All surfaces will continue to be monitored throughout the night, with the team on standby to provide further treatments if and when required,” he added.

Aer Lingus blamed disruption on “circumstances outside of our control”.

In a statement, the airline said “adverse weather conditions overnight have resulted in some delays and a small number of cancellations” on Friday.

The airline said they were still facing challenges but its ground operation team “continue to work hard to minimise any impact on customers”.

“For any customers whose flight has been cancelled, they are being contacted directly by our customer care team and we are actively working to re-accommodate them on the next available services,” it said.

Ryanair said a “small number” of its flights from Dublin Airport had been delayed or cancelled, “due to severe ice overnight”.

“Affected customers have been notified and advised of their options. We sincerely apologise to affected customers for these weather-related delays/cancellations which are entirely beyond our control,” the airline said.

Aer Lingus said its operation at Dublin Airport had been “significantly challenged due to circumstances outside of our control”.

In a statement, the airline said “adverse weather conditions overnight have resulted in some delays and a small number of cancellations” on Friday.

Snow fell in Dublin overnight on Thursday and the status yellow warning ended at 6am on Friday morning, but the snow and ice warning for Donegal is still is in place until noon on Saturday.

Ireland will remain wintry and “raw” over the coming days but there is little expectation of widespread heavy snow, forecasters predict.

However, temperatures could drop to as low as minus 6 degrees in parts of the country, with wintry showers threatening hazardous driving conditions.

Paul Downes, meteorologist with Met Éireann, said freezing fog could impact on parts of the midlands overnight on Friday, with the mercury dropping to minus 1 or minus 2 in places.

Where skies are clear it could get as cold as minus 5.

Where wintry showers drift further inland from the coast - mainly in the north and west - there may be freezing rain or sleet although this should be “few and far between”.

While Donegal and Mayo face the chance of some snow on Saturday large accumulations are not expected countrywide. Showers could be “intense” and there is “definitely a need to be careful on the roads, especially back roads,” said Downes.

Sunday looks like similar conditions with temperatures not forecast to rise much above freezing. “It really is quite raw conditions,” said Downes.

Temperatures could plunge as low as minus 6 on Monday - although more typically around minus 2 - with not much let up in the cold until at least next weekend.

Meanwhile, Dublin City Council said it gritted more than 300km of roads overnight - around a quarter of central Dublin’s roads.

Around 1,800 tonnes of gritting salt is in storage across four depots in the city as operations continue.

Separately, housing and homelessness charity the Peter McVerry Trustsaid it has made more than 100 additional bed spaces available in Dublin, Kildare and Meath in response to the cold snap.

Pat Doyle, the charity’s chief executive, said 35 extra beds have been taken already in Dublin, with a further 66 on “standby”.

“I am sure many of these will be used in the coming days due to the very low temperatures being experienced by people on the streets,” he said.

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) is advising all road users to prepare for hazardous conditions on roads and footpaths.

The RSA said motorists should expect icy roads and be extra cautious on untreated road surfaces. It also warned that If a road looks polished or glossy it could be “black ice”.

In the event of hitting ice drivers should not hit the brakes, if driving a manual car they should slow down using the gears and if driving an automatic car they should take their foot off the accelerator and steer away from any obstacles.

The best advice was to allow time and space to avoid collisions, he said. Motorists should also keep their cars stocked with emergency items such as blankets, a shovel if living in a hilly area and mats that could be put under the tyres in the event of getting stuck. Mobile phones should be kept charged and drivers should let friends and family know their route, he added.

Snow fell in Dublin overnight on Thursday following a Met Éireann weather warning for ice. The status yellow warning ended at 6am on Friday morning. A snow and ice warning for Donegal is in place until noon on Saturday. Met Éireann said scattered sleet and snow showers in Donegal today will give some accumulations, especially on high ground.

Photos and videos of the snow in Dublin and elsewhere on Thursday night were posted on social media, with sneachta, the Irish for snow, trending on Twitter. The snow appeared to be thicker at first on Dublin’s south side of the city, with less sticking on the north side.

Brian Hutton

Brian Hutton is a freelance journalist and Irish Times contributor

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is a reporter with The Irish Times

Jade Wilson

Jade Wilson

Jade Wilson is a reporter for The Irish Times