Ireland is set to remain under an Arctic air mass bringing sub-zero temperatures, wintry downpours and severe frost until next week, Met Éireann has said.
Daytime temperatures will struggle to climb above zero degrees at times across the weekend as widespread black ice, freezing fog and frost will lead to treacherous travel conditions.
It’s expected Met Éireann will extend their yellow weather warnings for ice and low temperatures beyond the current expiration date of midday tomorrow as temperatures look set to fall below -6 on Sunday.
It’s expected temperatures will fall to the lowest level seen in Ireland since early 2018, over the weekend.
“It’s staying very cold for the weekend and into next week and we’re expecting temperatures well below zero along with frost and icy stretches,” Mark Bowe, forecaster at Met Éireann, said.
“We’re getting a really cold blast from this Arctic air mass so that’s why we’re seeing daytime temperatures struggling to get into the single figures even. We’re fairly certain this cold spell will be with us through the weekend and into the early part of next week,” Mr Bowe said.
There are indications that the bitter spell could last into the latter part of next week but there is too much uncertainty within the weather modelling to predict this accurately, Met Éireann said.
The continued cold snap will bring with it severe frost, black ice on roads and footpaths, along with hail, sleet, and snow showers this weekend. Freezing fog is also likely to fall on parts of the country this weekend. Snow and sleet are most likely on higher ground and in coastal counties.
Today will be a clear, dry day with low winter sunshine for most counties but very cold with icy stretches, some lying snow in parts, and patches of freezing fog.
Wintry showers will affect some northern and western coastal counties while temperatures will hover at or just above freezing.
A severe frost will set in tonight as temperatures fall to -5 or lower in places. Some parts of Ireland may be as cold as -1 during the warmest parts of the day tomorrow with icy roads and “dense” freezing fog setting in as evening approaches.
It will be “bitterly” cold tomorrow night and Sunday with “temperatures failing to rise above freezing for most”, Met Éireann forecast. Sunday will have highs of -2 to two degrees and will see temperatures drop to -6 overnight.
Despite treacherous travel conditions being predicted, both Bus Éireann and Irish Rail do not expect any disruption to services in the coming days.
Irish Rail has deployed sand on tracks to prevent black ice forming overnight and heaters have been used at strategic locations to prevent freezing.
Bus Éireann has said while no alterations to its services are planned, passengers should check their Service Updates section before travelling and any changes will be communicated locally.
Homeless services in Dublin are carrying out hourly analysis of their emergency bed numbers and co-ordinating with outreach teams on the streets to get as many street sleepers as possible indoors as the temperatures drop to below freezing.
The Dublin Regional Homeless Executive (DRHE) has put in place its extreme weather contingency plan in response to the worsening weather forecast, and has said it has succeeded in persuading even hardened street sleepers to move to indoor shelters.
The DRHE is requesting members of the public to download the Dublin Rough Sleeper App or call 01 8720185 and alert them to anyone sleeping rough in the region so they can then approach them and offer assistance.
The RSA is appealing to motorists to exercise caution when driving in treacherous conditions this weekend. The RSA is advising drivers to expect roads to be icy in the coming days and to be on the lookout for black ice.
Motorists are also being urged to carry a scraper or de-icer with them and to avoid harsh braking, acceleration or over-steering.