Met Éireann surprised at amount of snow on Sunday

Sudden falls of snow caused traffic chaos, long tailbacks and flight cancellations

A car which went off  the road during Storm Freya in Dunlavin, Co Wicklow. Photograph:  Niall Carson/PA Wire

A car which went off the road during Storm Freya in Dunlavin, Co Wicklow. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

 

Met Éireann said it had issued a warning in advance of the snow which nevertheless caught many motorists and airport passengers by surprise on Sunday.

Heavy falls of snow resulted in long tailbacks in many of the busiest routes in the country and the cancellation of 23 flights at Dublin Airport.

One woman, Louise O’Connor, was stuck in traffic with a five-month-old baby and took seven hours to get from Cork to Dublin.

Met Éireann forecaster Pat Clarke confirmed that it had issued a yellow weather warning for Munster and Leinster from Sunday morning. The warning anticipated between 25 and 35mms of rain. However, it also stated that the rain might turn to snow in places as temperatures dropped to between 1 and 5 degrees.

The sudden falls of snow were caused by Storm Freya, an Atlantic storm, meeting a cold airmass over Ireland. When the two airmasses collided snow fell quite quickly, though the storm passed through and snow did not last long on the ground.

Mr Clarke said Met Éireann had warned on Saturday and Sunday morning that heavy rain might turn to sleet or snow on Sunday afternoon and issued a warning to the local authorities in Munster and Leinster to prepare the roads.

However, he also admitted the amount of snow that fell took forecasters by surprise and it was a “very unusual” day meteorologically with temperatures ranging from 10 degrees in Cork to zero degrees in the midlands.

The forecast for the rest of the week is for cold, showery conditions to continue, but any snow that falls will only fall on higher ground.

Sean O’Neill, the communications director for Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), said the long delays on the M7 on Sunday were the consequence of the “unfortunate timing” of a road traffic accident and unexpected snow.

The resultant tailbacks had made it difficult for snow ploughs to get out on to the motorways to clear the snow. “They were stuck in traffic too,” he told RTÉ Radio’s News at One.

Difficulties with de-icing

Of the 23 flights which were cancelled at Dublin Airport, 17 were Ryanair flights. Five Aer Lingus flights and one from British Airways were also cancelled.

A Dublin Airport spokesman said the airport was running normally on Monday. He said the reasons for Sunday’s cancellations were difficulties with the de-icing of planes which were the responsibility of the airline.

Furious passengers at Dublin Airport berated Ryanair for flight delays of up to nine hours following Sunday’s snowfall.

One Ryanair passenger, Michael Skelly, who was on his way to Edinburgh tweeted that the pilot had informed passengers there was only one wing de-icer for the whole airport on Sunday.

Ryanair responded to the chaos by stating: “Weather has regrettably caused a small number of Dublin cancellations . . . All those affected were advised of their rebook/refund options.”

Many passengers who were stranded at Dublin Airport responded with incredulity to the tweet.

Allen Mongey tweeted photographs of long queues of passengers: “A small number maybe but you left over a thousand stranded and decided to close the desk in the airport at 1.30am. No announcement and 4hour que (sic).”

Another user, @bethk97, responded: “Staff on the ground are having a great time laughing and joking at people’s expense of being stranded in Dublin . . . customer service closed so no one can actually deal with the issue! Nothing open and no willing staff to help. You are the definition of a joke.”