Travel disruption continues as result of icy conditions
Freezing weather following last night's snow falls have resulted in dangerous driving conditions for motorists in parts of the country and there is some disruption to public transport this evening.
Temperatures dropped overnight and snow falls were reported in Leitrim, Cavan, Roscommon and Wicklow. Motorists have been warned to postpone any non-essential journeys and to take extra care while driving this evening
Cavan was hit by the heaviest snowfalls with nearly 18cm lying in some places, while road temperatures fell to almost minus 5C (23F) in parts of Munster and south Leinster.
Gardaí in many counties advised against any unnecessary travel.
Further snow and hail showers have been predicted today in parts of the southwest, west and northwest with severe frosts and icy conditions with freezing fog continuing through to Christmas morning. Between 10cm and 20cm of snow was lying on high ground in parts of Ulster yesterday, while the weather station at Knock airport recorded four centimetres.
Motorists in counties such as Sligo, Leitrim, Donegal and Cavan encountered dangerous driving conditions this morning, with freezing temperatures and icy roads.
The Garda and AA Roadwatch advised motorists to drive with extreme caution due the poor conditions in many parts of the country. At least 30 school bus routes around the country were cancelled forcing schools to close.
AA Roadwatch said this evening there were still some icy stretches in Leitrim and Galway on the back roads, and slushy conditions in Mayo and Sligo. In Galway, the back roads around the city are very icy. Particular care is also needed around Clonboo and Cregmore, the motoring body said.
There are eports of freezing fog and frost on the N7 Dublin/Limerick road at Roscrea and it is also Icy on the N7 Nenagh/Moneygall road.
Motorists are urged to avoid the Wicklow Gap and Sally Gap and conditions at Glencree and Roundwood were reported to be very dangerous and icy. Secondary roads around Mullingar are very slippery.
There is some disruption to buses in Limerick and Kerry.
Bus Éireann said that due to the adverse weather and road conditions, there are delays on services from Limerick to Tralee, Killarney and Galway. The 21.35 service from Limerick to Tralee has been cancelled, and services to Tralee and Killarney from Limerick after 17.35 may not operate depending on weather conditions.
Most Limerick city services have resumed operation except for services to O’Malley Park and Ballynanty, Bus Éireann said.
Most services in Kerry are operating, but the Tralee-Killorglin-Killarney and Killarney-Killorglin-Caherciveen services have been cancelled.
Services between Tralee, Killarney and Cork are operating, but with some cancellations of departures and delays. There are slight delays on services operating through Dundalk, Cavan and Monaghan.
Bus Eireann said it would continue to monitor the situation closely and advised customers travelling in the south west to contact their local travel office for information on individual services.
AA Roadwatch controller Nicola Hudson said driving conditions were difficult right across the country this morning.
“Many national roads were treated, however a lot of secondary roads remain frozen since Sunday and very few routes have gone above freezing,” she said. “Road temperatures dropped as low as -4.9 Celsius in parts of the south and east. There is both fresh and compacted snow as well as ice and black ice to contend with, there is a very high risk of skidding so make sure you know what to do.”
Ms Hudson said drivers generally heeded warnings over the dangerous conditions.
“Traffic volumes are a little lighter than usual today, however most routes are slow-moving as people proceed with caution on the icy roads,” Ms Hudson said. “There were no major road closures or major crashes reported during morning rush hour, although there were countless minor incidents on icy stretches countrywide.”
AA Roadwatch advised drivers not to brake if they skid on ice but use gears to reduce speed.
Fine Gael’s road safety spokesman Shane McEntee called on Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey to ensure local authorities are given the necessary resources to grit all roads.
“Despite the freezing weather conditions I am still hearing that many roads are not been gritted, especially secondary roads,” he said. “We are looking at multiple accidents if this is not dealt with urgently. Councils are saying that they haven’t got the funding, manpower or materials to get on with the job but it is not acceptable that this essential work is just neglected.”
Heavy falls of snow at airports in the US, the UK and some European countries affected people intending to travel from Ireland yesterday. Washington had its biggest December snowfall in more than seven decades, while almost 59cm of snow was recorded at Philadelphia International Airport.
Flights going to and from the Britain, Germany, France and eastern Europe were also delayed at various times.
Dublin Airport remained open, but several flights were affected by the extreme weather in other parts of the world, including the UK and Spain.
Aer Lingus was forced to cancel an early-morning flight to Malaga because of weather conditions in Dublin, while its Madrid service was also axed due to snow in the Spanish capital. Ryanair said some flights experienced delays but there were no cancellations.
Both airlines advised passengers to expect delays and possible cancellations and to check their websites for updates.
Aer Lingus said 15 flights were cancelled yesterday due to problems at airports such as Manchester and Dusseldorf, while 20 flights were delayed by more than two hours. Snowfall across northern counties badly affected Belfast International Airport and many roads along the Atlantic coast. The Rathlin ferry was also suspended.
The cold snap of recent days is set to continue and a white Christmas could occur in some areas, according to Met Éireann.
While most areas will be dry and sunny tomorrow, there will be further snow showers over parts of the west and north. On Wednesday, temperatures are likely to fall as low as -5 to -9 degrees Celcius.
After Christmas Day, the weather is likely to turn considerably milder, Met Éireann said. Saturday is likely to be mild and cloudy with some outbreaks of rain and a possibility of heavy rain over parts of Munster and south Leinster.
Additional reporting: PA