More snow forecast on Thursday
Snowfalls and cold weather are due to return from Thursday night but temperatures are not expected to reach the same lows of recent weeks, according to Met Éireann.
Met Éireann forecaster Joan Blackburn said Ulster, Connacht and west Munster worst be worst affected by snowshowers driven by a band of very cold northeasterly winds.
“Initially we think it’s those areas that will be most at risk but that’s not to rule out some getting across to the east,” she said.
The beginning of the cold spell will see daytime temperatures from Friday dropping to between zero and 3 degrees with night time lows of minus 6 on Saturday night. Sunday night is expected to be milder with lows of between minus 1 and minus 3 degrees due to cloud cover.
Indications suggest by late Sunday night and early Monday the snowfalls will shift to more to eastern parts of the country.
She said falls of 5 to 10cm were possible in the east of the country on Monday.
Irish Weather Online (a new website that provides news and views on Ireland's weather) said people should be “on alert” for rapid onset of wintry conditions from midday on Thursday with several waves of heavy snow possible in some areas.
Forecaster Peter O'Donnell said the risk of “disruptive amounts of snow" was increasing.
The British Met Office also issued weather warnings for Northern Ireland, Scotland and the north of England for the early hours of Thursday morning. It said a band of rain and snow will move southwards with widespread icy surfaces rapidly developing - potentially around the morning rush-hour period - followed by heavy snow showers.
Over the weekend widespread ice and severe overnight frosts are likely in most parts of the UK with significant accumulations of snow in places.
The British Met Office expects the unsettled and wintry weather to continue towards the Christmas weekend and as a result bookies have slashed the price of a white Christmas with Paddy Power quoting odds of 9/4 for Dublin, 2/1 for Belfast and 11/8 for London.
Meanwhile, restrictions to water supplies in Dublin and surrounding counties are to continue until at least next Saturday morning.
Brian McKeown of Dublin city council said while the current situation is regrettable the restrictions have only “halted” the slide in water storage.
He said breaks in pipes due to the freezing temperatures and consumers running taps have caused an increase in demand of 30-40 million litres of water per day.
He said: “If we reduce the hours of the restrictions then our treated water storage will continue to drop and when our reservoirs empty we’ll have no water then to give to anybody.”
Fine Gael’s transport spokesman Simon Coveney said the national emergency planning committee needs to meet immediately ahead of the next bout of cold weather.
And he said local communities should be provided with grit and salt containers so they can make safe their own estates.
“It may not be possible to target every estate in the country with a small stockpile of salt and grit, but certainly housing estates with steep access roads and ice-prone conditions can and should be prioritised,” he added.