Severe weather: preparing for the worst
Elderly people are at risk in their homes because of low temperatures
Polar winds from Central Europe will clash with moisture-laden clouds from the Bay of Biscay, later this week, to give Ireland heavy falls of snow. Unlike earlier severe weather events, this time adequate warning has been given and official agencies and members of the public are in a position to prepare for it. The most important contribution that citizens can make is to follow advice provided by the National Emergency Coordination Group (NECP).
Ireland experiences a severe snow event every few decades and, because it is so unusual, it can prove challenging or even fatal. This time, adequate warning has been provided
In spite of significant advances, weather forecasting remains an uncertain business. Met Éireann has been reluctant to predict blizzard conditions while, at the same time, it cannot underestimate that threat because of the possible impact on transport, public services and life itself. The role of coordinator for severe weather has fallen to the NECP. It will direct official and voluntary bodies while providing advice on appropriate behaviour to members of the public.
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The east coast is likely to experience the heaviest snowfalls, setting in from Tuesday evening and continuing, intermittently, for much of the week. Civic-minded action, such as clearing footpaths of snow, would help neighbours. Elderly people are at risk in their homes because of low temperatures. Apart from hazardous driving and walking conditions, farmers caring for their animals are vulnerable.
Temperatures may fall by 10 degrees below normal with significant wind chill and severe frosts threatening domestic water supplies. Preparations are also underway to provide emergency accommodation and hot food for people who are sleeping rough. The situation regarding possible school closures is being monitored and gritting crews are on standby to treat city streets and public roads. The threat of power outages is under review.
Ireland experiences a severe snow event every few decades and, because it is so unusual, it can prove challenging or even fatal. This time, adequate warning has been provided and its potential dangers can be minimised by good planning and public cooperation.