Cold snap causing disruption


Severe weather conditions across the country are causing disruption for travellers and road users on the last day of the year.

Met Éireann has warned of very cold weather today, with patches of rain, sleet and snow at first, mainly in the southwest and in parts of the east. Some scattered wintry showers of rain, sleet or snow are predicted to follow.

Thereafter, a week of bitterly cold weather is forecast as polar air feeds down over Ireland.

Householders and motorists have been warned to prepare for an arctic start to the new year with temperatures expected to plummet to as low as -10 degrees tonight.

AAroadwatch has warned of surface water and flooding causing problems, particularly in Co. Cork. Strong winds overnight may have left fallen trees and debris on the roads and motorists have been advised to drive with extreme care.

All rail services to and from Heuston Station are currently experiencing delays of 30 to 40 minutes due to flooding at Hazelhatch and there are no DART services between Lansdowne Rd and Dun Laoghaire until further notice following an incident at the Merrion Gates yesterday.

DART services are operating from Howth/Malahide to Lansdowne.

Icy conditions persist in parts of Connaught and Ulster as well as in Co. Wicklow particularly on secondary routes

With roads remaining icy in some counties, there were claims that county councils were cutting back on gritting services because of a lack of funding. However, the Department of the Environment said councils were “getting on with it” and it had no reports from local authorities of budget shortfalls.

Across the northwest, impassable local roads and cuts to water supplies have caused hardship for thousands. AA Roadwatch said roads were still very icy in parts of Ulster and Connacht, with snow and slushy conditions in Munster. Snow was reported yesterday in parts of the west and sleet was recorded at Dublin airport, but it was rainy in most areas.

Thousands of homes in Co Leitrim have been without water for several days and many people, especially those in isolated rural areas, have been stranded in their homes for almost a week because of the treacherous roads.

The large number of holiday homes and unoccupied investment properties in the county has exacerbated the water problem and Leitrim County Council has appealed to property owners to check buildings for leaks and burst pipes. As the council yesterday provided water tankers in the worst-hit areas, director of services John McGuinness said water consumption had risen by 35 per cent in recent days because of leaks and people leaving taps on in order to avoid frozen pipes. Water supplies are being turned off in the county from midnight to 8am because reservoir levels are so low.

Mr McGuinness estimated that up to 5,000 homes had their water supply interrupted in recent days while 2,000 householders had been left without running water for four days. In Sligo the worst-hit area was Ballymote where more than 100 houses were without water for four days.

Met Éireann said today’s temperatures will vary between one and five degrees. Occasional wintry showers are likely, some falling as snow.

For New Year’s Day, it said heavy snow showers are likely over Ulster. Sunny spells and scattered snow showers are possible over Connacht and Leinster, while in Munster it should remain largely dry.

Thereafter, the week is expected to stay largely dry, with daytime temperatures hovering around zero and night-time temperatures falling to between -5 and -10 degrees.

The first week of January will also see a period of very high spring tides, according to the Irish Coast Guard. It warned of the danger posed by higher tides and stronger than normal currents and also warned people to keep away from swollen or iced-over rivers.

Yesterday’s northeasterly gale drove a fishing vessel up on rocks off Clogherhead, Co Louth. The vessel, Endurance , had no one on board at the time it broke free.

Roscommon Fine Gael TD Frank Feighan accused the Department of the Environment of failing to plan for the bad weather by providing local authorities with enough resources for road gritting. A department spokesman dismissed his claims, saying no local authority had been in touch to complain of a lack of funds for road gritting. “Mr Feighan, if he has a problem, should talk to his county councillors in Co Roscommon, who set the budget for the local authority,” he said.

A spokesman for the National Roads Authority said primary routes were in good condition throughout the country but secondary roads in counties Galway, Clare and Mayo were “not the best” because of ice or snow.

The adverse weather conditions have forced the cancellation of the annual Tom Brennan memorial road race in the Phoenix Park on New Year’s Day, organisers said.

Because of a forecast of extreme weather conditions, it has been decided to postpone Bray Charity New Year’s Day Sea Swim for 24 hours. The event will now take place at 12 noon on Saturday at Bray Seafront.