Temperatures set to plunge further as forecasters warn of snow tonight
Schools closed and buses cancelled as ‘significant accumulations in places’
An overturned car on the road between Croghan and Carrick-on-Shannon in Co Roscommon on Wednesday morning. Photograph: Peter Daly
Forecasters have warned of snow on Thursday night and temperatures as low as minus 6 as a weather alert remains in place until Saturday.
On Wednesday, heavy snowfall caused road and school closures across the country from Co Kerry to Co Monaghan but it could spread to the east on Thursday night.
AA Roadwatch warned road users that it took up to 10 times longer to stop on an icy road. “In affected areas, slow down, keep further back from the vehicle in front and keep all manoeuvres gentle,” an AA Roadwatch spokesman said.
Met Éireann said Thursday would be increasingly windy. Heavy rain will extend northeastward during the day, with falls of snow in places but mostly over high ground initially.
The coldest night over coming days is likely to be Thursday when temperatures will drop to minus 6 degrees.
The snow is likely to be heaviest over much of Munster and south Leinster on Thursday night with accumulations at lower levels, Met Éireann said.
But this band of weather will clear southwards later in the night and the fresh and gusty east to northeast winds will moderate also. It will be icy with lying snow in places.
Friday is set to be a very cold day with moderate north or northeast breezes bringing some wintry showers to exposed coastal areas, mainly eastern and also parts of the northwest and west coasts.
But most other areas, especially inland parts will be dry with spells of winter sunshine. Met Éireann says there will very little in the way of a thaw but top temperatures will range from 2 to 4 degrees but some Atlantic coastal districts will see temperatures of up to 6 degrees. It will be bitterly cold overnight with a severe frost and icy conditions. There will be lows of -2 to -4 degrees generally, but this will be lower over snow fields and the national forecaster says temperatures will be around zero in some Atlantic coastal areas. Many places will be dry, though there will be a few wintry showers in exposed costal areas.
Saturday will bring some bright, sunny weather with wintry showers in coastal areas. Temperatures will reach between 5 and 7 degrees in the afternoon but are due to drop to minus 5 degrees overnight with severe frost while icy roads and freezing fog can also be expected.
Frost, fog and ice will gradually clear on Sunday morning with some sunny spells. Light rain is expected in coastal areas in the afternoon with highest temperatures between four and seven degrees.
The freezing temperatures led to the closure of a number of schools in the midlands and the northwest on Wednesday.
These included Drumlay National School, Drumreilly; St. Patrick’s National School, Ballinamuck; Corram College, Ballymote, Sligo; Cnoc Mhuire, Granard; St Columba’s, Carrigallen Vocational school; Drumshanbo Vocational School; St Columba’s National School, Mullinalaghta; St. Colmcille’s National School, Aughnacliffe; St. Keelan’s National School, Fenagh; St. Brigid’s National School Drumcong; Elphin Community College, Carrick on Shannon Community School; Scoil na nAingeal Naofa, also known as Boyle Primary Convent School; Gortletteragh National School and Cloone/Aughavas playschool.
Bus Éireann school buses were cancelled in Rathmore, Knocknagashel, Scartaglen, Kilsarcon and the Currow to Castleisland route. Also cancelled were the Lyreacrompane, Rathea, Mountcoal, Moyvane to Listowel service, as well as the service from Kilcummin to Killarney.
According to the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation, classrooms needed to be heated to minimum of 16 degrees so if there was no indoor heating available classes should not go ahead.
The Department of Education said it was at the discretion of each school to decide on closures depending on the severity of the weather.
“The Department does not hold figures of schools that have closed as there is no onus on schools to report closures to the Department, these are at the discretion of the School Principal/Board of Management,” a spokesman said.
“The Department’s advice to schools is to remain vigilant in the event of adverse weather conditions. Schools should monitor weather forecasts in order to be prepared for any severe weather which may affect the school,” he added.
In Co Kerry, gardaí said there were dangerous driving conditions on the road from Castlemaine to Tralee.
Kerry County Council said major routes were treated by gritters overnight. However, Local Link bus services were cancelled between Gneevguilla and Killarney, as well as on the Brosna to Castleisland and Tralee route.
Overnight snow and low temperatures also resulted in treacherous conditions in the midlands where Longford County Council were out gritting and using snow ploughs.
In Roscommon and Leitrim councils were also using snow ploughs and gritting machines to clear roads. In Leitrim, a lorry became stuck at Aughoo bridge, between Carrigallen and Ballinamore, blocking the Fenagh road for a time.
Ahead of Thursday’s drop in temperatures, the Road Safety Association, the Health and Safety Authority, the insurance industry and the Garda have all issued warnings drivers, homeowners and others to only make journeys which are necessary, to make sure car tyres have sufficient thread and to have pipes insulated to prevent them from freezing.
The Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE) activated its Extreme Weather Protocol to address people sleeping rough. It urged members of the public to alert Dublin’s Housing First Service if they had information on rough sleepers (https://www.homelessdublin.ie/report-rough-sleeper).
The DRHE, which co-ordinates the homeless services of all four of the capital’s local authorities, said extra contingency beds are ready for use for the duration of the alert.