Icy conditions likely across Ireland as severe winter weather lands
Severe weather will hit Ireland today with strong winds, biting cold temperatures, snow, sleet and hail expected to batter much of the country this morning.
Dozens of gritting lorries were being prepared across the country last night as the first extensive snowfall of the winter is set to begin over Ulster and Connacht.
A 'status orange' weather alert went into effect at 6pm yesterday and will remain until 6pm tomorrow for areas in the north and north-west.
Met Éireann is warning residents living in counties Cavan, Monaghan, Donegal, Leitrim, Mayo and Sligo to brace themselves for extreme weather that could have a "significant impact".
AA Roadwatch is urging motorists to slow down this morning and to stay a safe distance from the vehicle in front.
Bitterly cold winds moved in from the Atlantic yesterday as a precursor to the extremely cold and wintry weather that was expected to bring showers of sleet, snow and hail from last night.
Temperatures plunged to between -1C and -2C overnight, and will struggle to rise to between just 2C and 4C during the daytime today and tomorrow.
Moderate accumulations of snow were expected to fall by this morning on lower-lying areas.
But those living in mountainous areas or on higher ground can expect significant snowfall.
Coupled with strong, bitterly cold winds, they also face a risk of drifting, blowing snow and blizzard-like conditions that could severely reduce visibility on the roads.
Added to the mix is also the risk of scattered thunderstorms.
Met Éireann also issued a less severe 'status yellow' snow and ice alert for Munster and Leinster, as well as in Co Galway and Co Roscommon.
This yellow alert went into effect yesterday at 5am this morning and is expected to remain until 6pm on Friday. Residents in affected areas should be aware of the challenging weather and take precautions. Some accumulation of snow is expected on lower ground, with more widespread accumulations on higher ground.
Areas along the east coast of Leinster, including Dublin and south Leinster, were likely to see more scattered showers.
However, very icy conditions are forecast for most areas.
Local authorities, in conjunction with Transport Infrastructure Ireland, were on standby last night with stores of salt and gritting equipment ready to be deployed on major and secondary roads and footpaths.
They attended a meeting of the National Emergency Co-ordination Group for Severe Weather yesterday.
It aims to ensure that all of the relevant authorities - including An Garda Síochána, the HSE, Defence Forces and all State transport operators - are monitoring the impact of the severe weather in their respective areas and are able to put into place their severe weather plans as needed.
In Donegal, where the worst of the snow is expected, the county council last night deployed 23 gritting lorries, which have all been adapted to also operate as snow ploughs.
"Staff will work across all main routes right throughout this weather alert and we are urging motorists to take extra care over the next couple of days," said a Donegal County Council spokeswoman.
Meanwhile, the public is being urged to keep abreast of local weather forecasts and conditions when planning journeys or other activities and to heed safety messages issued by relevant agencies.
"We haven't had truly icy conditions yet this winter but they may be on the way," Conor Faughnan, AA director of consumer affairs said. "Icy conditions and snow are a real danger for motorists."
The public is also being asked to call on elderly relatives and neighbours to offer assistance.
Find information on public safety at www.winterready.ie