‘Up to 10cm of snow expected in places’ with threat of school closures

Rain, sleet and snow will spread northwards across the country later tonight and during Thursday

A sheep stands with lambs in a snow dusted field in Ardenteggle, Co Laois. Photo: PA© PA

Flowers dusted with snow in Bilboa, Co Carlow. PA© PA

Snow blankets the townland of Ardateggle in Co Laois. PA© PA

Holy Trinity Church in Bilboa in Co Carlow. PA© PA


Met Éireann’s nationwide Status Yellow snow warning could be upgraded to Orange in places over the coming days, meaning some schools may opt to close depending on local conditions.

A snow alert comes into effect at 3am Thursday until 11pm, with forecasters warning that rain, sleet and snow will spread northwards across the country later tonight and during Thursday accompanied by strengthening easterly winds.

"Accumulations of snow are expected in many areas along with icy conditions,” Met Éireann said.

"Possible impacts [include] hazardous driving conditions, travel disruption and poor visibility.”

Flowers dusted with snow in Bilboa, Co Carlow. PA© PA

The Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage’s National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management (NDFEM) crisis management team held a virtual meeting today with Met Éireann, the local authorities, the principal response agencies, key Departments and responding national organisations, in preparation for the cold snap.

A further meeting of the group is scheduled for tomorrow morning.

Meteorologist Gerry Murphy said there will be “pockets” of Status Orange snowfall over the coming days, meaning between 3cm and 10cm of snow is expected.

Mr Murphy said the lowest temperature in Northern Ireland since 2010 was recorded in Castlederg, Co Tyrone, last night when temperatures fell to -8.5 degrees.

“The air over us is very cold at the moment,” he said.

“Overnight tonight and into tomorrow we have a weather system pushing up from the South and once that meets that very, very cold air, it’s going to fall as both rain, sleet and snow but there will be a significant amount of sleet and snow in that system as it moves up.”

Snow blankets the townland of Ardateggle in Co Laois. PA© PA

Mr Murphy said tonight will start off “cold and dry”, but sleet and snow will dominate over the Munster and southern Leinster and Connacht as people begin their morning commute.

“Over the southern half of the country, between six and 8am when people get going for the day tomorrow, there will be quite a bit of sleet and snow over that southern area of Munster, South Leinster and possibly South Connacht at that stage as well,” he said.

“The snow will be substantial in places… We’ve issued a Yellow level warning but we do expect in our communications that there will be pockets of Orange level snow in that, which means it will be greater than 3cm to 10cm in places.”

Mr Murphy said the snowfall will be “even higher” on high ground and the weather system will bring “noticeable snow”.

“It’s not just a question of a few flurries here and there. This will be noticeable and lying snow, which will cause disruption in places as we go through tomorrow. [It’s] very difficult to pin down the exact places where the most significant amounts will be, other than to say that some areas will get fairly substantial amounts and certainly enough to cause disruption to travel etc,” he added.

Holy Trinity Church in Bilboa in Co Carlow. PA© PA

A second Status Yellow snow warning has been issued for all of Leinster, Cavan and Monaghan from 11pm on Thursday until 7am on Friday morning, while a nationwide Status Yellow low temperature and warning has been issued from 9pm tomorrow until 10am on Friday morning.

The rest of the week is due to stay very cold with falls of rain, sleet and snow at times, but becoming milder and wetter over the weekend, Met Éireann said.

Where a Status Yellow notice applies, schools in an area have the discretion to decide whether to open, taking account of a number of factors, including whether school buses are running.

Unless there is a Status Red weather warning, decisions as to whether school transport routes operate are taken at local level based on local knowledge of driving conditions.

Sometimes when a Status Yellow makes travel to school difficult, a school may decide to open later in the day to avoid hazardous conditions in the early morning.

Dublin Airport’s authority (daa) said specialist teams are ready to deploy in the event that snow and ice causes disruption over the coming days.

It comes as this weekend is set to be another busy one for air travellers, with many flying into the country ahead of St Patrick’s Day, while Irish rugby fans will also hope to make the Six Nation’s clash with Scotland in Edinburgh on Sunday afternoon.

"Dublin Airport's dedicated snow and ice teams remain on standby to ensure that Dublin Airport remains open and operational. As always, passengers should check with their airline for the latest flight information regarding their specific flight,” a daa spokesperson said.

The UK’s Met Office has issued snow and ice advisory for Scotland until 6pm on Friday, with a warning that “there is a small chance that long delays and cancellations on bus, rail and air travel could occur”.

A spokesperson for Edinburgh Airport said: “Our teams will monitor forecasts and conditions as you would expect and will respond but that is normal practice for us. Our advice for passengers would always be to check with their airline for the latest information on their flight.”

Meanwhile, Aer Lingus said it does not expect any disruption.

“Aer Lingus plans to operate our full schedule this coming weekend and do not expect any disruption. We will continue to monitor weather conditions as usual. For added reassurance customers travelling this weekend can check the status of their flight on or via the App,” a spokesperson for the airline said.

Severe weather conditions have caused disruption at several UK airports this morning.

Meanwhile, in a statement from the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage this afternoon, the public were urged that:

  • All road users should be aware of the potential for hazardous travelling conditions, particularly on untreated roads and allow extra time for all road journeys
  • Motorists should slow down and be aware of the dangers posed by poor visibility during periods of falling sleet/snow
  • Pedestrians should be aware for the potential of slips and falls in icy conditions particularly on untreated roads and footpaths

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