Motorists warned of hail storms as very cold weather forecast

Some of the State’s motorways in the midlands and west are prone to freak weather

According to Met Éireann conditions will turn cold and blustery on Tuesday night with a mix of clear spells and showers, some heavy with a risk of hail. Photograph: iStock

According to Met Éireann conditions will turn cold and blustery on Tuesday night with a mix of clear spells and showers, some heavy with a risk of hail. Photograph: iStock

 

Motorists are being warned of the “unpredictability and localised nature” of sudden hail storms as the weather is set to become more wintery over coming days.

Hail is a common but unpredictable occurrence in Ireland and can lead to slippery and dangerous driving conditions.

Some of the State’s motorways, particularly the M17/M18 between Tuam, Co Galway and Shannon in Co Clare in the west of the country, as well as sections of the M7 motorway around Roscrea, Co Tipperary are known to be prone to freak weather conditions.

A number of serious crashes have already been blamed on what Transport Infrastructure Ireland called “narrow bands of hail”, which the Road Safety Authority has compared to motorists “suddenly encountering a truck that has spilled a load of ball bearings”.

The phenomenon is caused by cumulonimbus clouds coming in off the Atlantic in winter, which cause extremely heavy and sudden downpours and significant hail on the western third of the island.

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) advised drivers to be aware of the dangers posed by hailstones.

The advice comes as Met Éireann has once again forecast wintery showers of hail over the coming days and into the weekend.

According to Met Éireann conditions will turn cold and blustery on Tuesday night with a mix of clear spells and showers, some heavy with a risk of hail, especially in the west and northwest.

Lowest temperatures are expected to be between 4 to 7 degrees with fresh, occasionally strong and gusty northwest winds.

Wednesday is forecast to be windy with sunny spells and scattered blustery showers, some heavy with a risk of hail. It will feel very cold, Met Éireann said.

Wednesday night is also likely to bring conditions conductive to hailstones and showers of rain or sleet mostly confined to northern and western coasts and easing as the night progresses. Frost will develop in many areas, especially over the eastern half of the country.

Sunny spells will clear any frost early on Thursday but cloud will increase later in the morning with patchy rain developing during the afternoon, becoming persistent by evening. Highs of 5 to 10 degrees in light west to southwest winds.

The Road Safety Authority warned drivers may suddenly pass from perfectly good road conditions onto a carpet of hailstones.

It offered the following practical advice for drivers:

* Be on guard to the potential danger posed by hailstones.

* Reduce speed, without breaking if possible and warn other drivers by using hazard warning lights.

* Drive slowly in a high gear to help tyres maintain grip even as they move over compacted pellets of ice.

* Accelerate and brake very gently and drive slowly on bends where loss of control is more likely. Avoid sudden steering movements or hard braking.

* Keep an eye out for road markings that may become obscured and leave plenty of distance from the vehicle in front.

Drivers were are also advised to make sure their tyres are fit for purpose and not below the legal minimum tread depth (1.6mm) and that they are inflated to the correct pressure, so they can cope better with such challenging driving conditions.