‘Unprecedented’ levels of snow expected on Thursday and Friday
The worst blizzard in more than three decades set to sweep across Leinster and Munster
A man runs through the snow with his husky dog at the Phoenix Park in Dublin. Photograph: Reuters/Clodagh Kilcoyne
Underlining the gravity of the situation, Transport Minister Shane Ross said authorities had moved to implement “some fairly dramatic measures” in advance of rapidly deteriorating conditions.
“The drama of the situation, the difficulties faced will be I suppose represented best by me saying there are going to be 25cm of snow tomorrow, that’s anticipated, and 40 by Friday lunchtime.
“That’s an almost unprecedented situation,” said the Minister, who thanked public transport staff for their perseverance on Wednesday – though he warned that services will stop in Munster and Leinster from Thursday afternoon.
“We will have public transport back as soon as it is safe,” said Mr Ross, who joined with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at Government Buildings as they sought to reassure the public.
The full weight of the State’s resources have been deployed to meet the fallout of Storm Emma as it sweeps north to join polar easterly winds, the combined force of which is expected to blanket much of the country in snow and ice.
“Tomorrow we are expecting exceptional blizzard-like conditions,” he said as workers were making their way home.
“I want to reassure everyone... that I directed that the full resources of the State should make every effort to ensure the safety and welfare of our people.”
Mr Varadkar reiterated the impact on services in Munster and Leinster, including the closure of schools and colleges. Any similar decisions in Connaught and Ulster will be made locally, he said, and will remain “under constant review”.
“Most importantly people need to be back safe and sound in their homes no later than four o’clock tomorrow in Munster and Leinster,” he said.
“Employers should assess whether it’s safe or even necessary for them to open and whether it is safe for their staff to travel to and from work.
“We urge everyone: families, businesses, farmers, fisherman, to heed this advice and to plan ahead.”
The Taoiseach said he was particularly conscious of the homeless but noted efforts had been made to provide accommodation to those who needed it.
“We have not experienced blizzard-like conditions like this since 1982. But the reports from that time remind us of the serious and life-threatening conditions that can be posed by heavy snow and strong winds when they come together,” he said.
Asked whether he felt the country was prepared, the Taoiseach said “as prepared as we possibly can be”.
Ms Doherty reminded the public of the availability of both the exceptional needs and urgent needs payments, for those who find themselves in financial difficulties, and that the fuel allowance would be doubled “which would hopefully give some help to some 338,000 families”.
“Our primary concern is people’s welfare,” she stressed. “We want to make sure that they are warm, have enough food in their households to get through what is obviously an exceptional period for us all.”