Ice alert | 

Weather Ireland: Met Éireann extend Status Yellow warning to Friday

It will remain very cold throughout the week with widespread sharp to severe frosts and icy stretches

Paul Hyland and Ralph RiegelIndependent.ie

Met Éireann’s Status Yellow warnings for low temperature and ice has now been extended until Friday.

The warning was updated today after 11am as Met Éireann warned of ‘treacherous conditions on paths and roads. It said that freezing fog will occur at times.

The body said that it will remain very cold throughout the week with widespread sharp to severe frosts and icy stretches.

There will be some showers of hail, sleet and now mainly near coasts.

It warned potential impacts could include travel disruption and of the potential for burst water pipes and damage to engines.

It comes as temperatures are set to plummet to -5C in many parts of the country later today, with Met Éireann issuing a Status Orange warning for low temperatures and ice which comes into effect at 5pm and lasts until midday tomorrow.

"A severe frost and further icy stretches will set in on Sunday night, accompanied by patches of freezing fog. Temperatures likely to fall below -5 degrees in many areas,” Met Éireann said.

The National Emergency Co-ordination Group (NECG) met earlier today to assess the impact of the worst Arctic weather to hit Ireland since the 'Beast from the East' in 2018 - with freezing temperatures set to remain stalled over Ireland for at least the next five days.

The UK Met Office has already warned that temperatures there could plummet to as low as -12C overnight on Sunday as the freezing Arctic air mass hovers over northern Europe and extends as far south as northern Spain.

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The Road Safety Authority (RSA) has warned road users of the dangers posed by freezing fog which has been forecast by Met Eireann in many parts of the country over the coming days.

It said combined with temperatures which are expected to drop below minus 5 degrees, leading to a widespread severe frost, with a risk of icy roads, this poses a safety risk for road users.

As visibility is reduced in such conditions a collision involving one vehicle can quickly involve many others, especially if driving too fast and too close to one another. The greatest risk is of a multiple-vehicle pile-up on roads with higher speeds such as motorways and dual carriageways.

Dense fog reduces visibility greatly and makes driving very dangerous. However freezing fog, when liquid fog droplets freeze to surfaces, can make it difficult to keep the windscreen surface clear.

The RSA has issued the following advice:

  • Check local and National weather forecasts before setting out on a journey. Clear your windows and mirrors before you set out, carry a screen scraper and de-icer. Do not use hot water on the windscreen as it can crack the glass.
  • In patches of fog, switch on fog lights where visibility is reduced. As you enter fog, check your mirrors and slow down. Use your foot brake lightly so that your lights warn following drivers.
  • To prevent windscreen wipers from freezing and seizing up in freezing fog, add anti-freeze screen washer to the water tank. Check that the wipers for wear and tear and replace them if they are.
  • Do not drive on the tail-lights of the vehicle in front. This can give a false sense of security and you will be too close to be able to brake safely. In heavy fog, turn off your radio and let down your driver’s window a fraction, so as you can hear other traffic.
  • If the road looks polished or glossy it could be, black ice” one of winter's worst hazards: Black Ice is difficult to see. It is nearly transparent ice that often looks like a harmless puddle or is overlooked entirely. It can occur especially in sheltered / shaded areas on roads, under trees and adjacent to high walls.

Met Éireann meteorologist, Mathew Martin, said members of the public to need be vigilant of potential icy stretches on footpaths and roads this morning.

"It will be very cold with yellow warnings for freezing fog, low temperatures and ice out for the country,” he said.

"We have a snow warning out for Dublin, Kildare and Wicklow. That will be localised but certainly we're expecting a few snow showers and in areas that are hit by the showers there could be a few centimetres [of snow]. Over the high ground in Wicklow there could be a little bit more. The main thing to watch is there could be icy stretches.”

"The cold spell is staying with us certainly up until Thursday or Friday. Tonight is going to be very, very cold. There's a Status Orange low temperature warning from tonight until Monday morning, with temperatures getting down to -5C widely on Sunday night. The temperatures then on Monday, remaining below 0C in many places," he added.

The forecaster said it will remain cold due to an “Arctic airmass”, that will bring “sharp to severe frosts, and ice or black ice on roads and footpaths”, as well as “some showers of hail, sleet, and snow”, mainly across coastal counties.

Councils have been working closely with Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) to ensure all major roads are treated with salt and grit.

Priority routes will be treated twice overnight with salt but some secondary roads in isolated areas may not be treated at all.

Officials stressed that there are adequate supplies of salt in reserve - but warned motorists to drive with extreme care if undertaking essential journeys.

Elderly support groups have also urged people to check on pensioners or any vulnerable people living in their area given the impact of the icy weather on them.

Age Action urged elderly people to stay warm inside during the worst of the ice and snow - and advised those who have to go outside to take extreme care on footpaths and roadways given the conditions.

“There are over a million people aged 60 and over in Ireland and, thankfully, most of them are in good health and living independently," Age Action official Nat O'Connor said.

"But many older people do suffer from the cold due to health conditions or frailty."

"That can leave them vulnerable to the risk of falls when the ground conditions are icy and slippery."

Age Action also warned that some elderly people are living alone in homes that are difficult or expensive to heat during cold snaps because of poor insulation and not having been upgraded.

Charities including the Society of St Vincent de Paul are working to help the elderly with home visits and supplies of warm clothing.

The ongoing severe weather has disrupted travel plans for thousands of passengers at Dublin Airport over the last three days.

On Friday, airlines, including Ryanair and Aer Lingus, worked throughout the day to de-ice planes, however, 143 flights were ultimately cancelled. Yesterday a further 50 flights were cancelled as a consequence of Friday’s disruption.

Meanwhile 20 flights to and from Dublin Airport have been cancelled today so far.

Aer Lingus has apologies to passengers who were scheduled to travel to the UK today, after a number of services were cancelled. The airline said some UK airports, including London Heathrow, have been impacted by freezing fog.

“While we plan to operate the majority of flights as schooled today we are experiencing challenges with our London Heathrow operation due to freezing fog conditions there,” a spokesperson for Aer Lingus said.

“As a result we have been forced to cancel some of our London Heathrow services today and we wish to advise customers travelling to London Heathrow to expect delays on services that can operate.

“Due to ongoing weather conditions some of our UK regional services have been cancelled.”

Aer Lingus said it is taking steps to “minimise disruption” and it has advised all customers to check the status of their flight on aerlingus.com before travelling to the airport.

Cancelled departures today:

  • 05:25 ET552 Toronto (YYZ) Ethiopian Airlines
  • 06:15 EI3280 Bristol (BRS) Aer Lingus
  • 06:35 EI3390 Leeds (LBA) Aer Lingus
  • 06:40 EI152 London (LHR) Aer Lingus
  • 06:40 EI3250 Edinburgh (EDI) Aer Lingus
  • 07:20 EI3330 Exeter (EXT) Aer Lingus
  • 10:50 BA845 London (LHR) British Airways
  • 13:05 BA835 London (LHR) British Airways
  • 13:10 EI166 London (LHR) Aer Lingus
  • 15:30 EI172 London (LHR) Aer Lingus

Cancelled arrivals today:

  • 09:20 EI3281 Bristol (BRS) Aer Lingus
  • 09:30 EI3251 Edinburgh (EDI) Aer Lingus
  • 09:45 EI3391 Leeds (LBA) Aer Lingus
  • 09:50 BA830 London (LHR) British Airways
  • 10:15 EI153 London (LHR) Aer Lingus
  • 10:30 EI3331 Exeter (EXT) Aer Lingus
  • 12:15 BA834 London (LHR) British Airways
  • 12:50 FR5325 Kosice (KSC) Ryanair
  • 16:30 EI167 London (LHR) Aer Lingus
  • 19:05 EI173 London (LHR) Aer Lingus

In a statement issued this morning, a spokesperson for the daa said: “The first wave of departures Dublin Airport has taken off successfully without any delays. Airlines have advised they expect to operate a normal schedule today with a minimum of cancellations. All runways and taxiways are fully operational as they have been for the past two days.

"With the extremely cold weather due to continue into the middle of next week, intending passengers should continue to check the status of their flight with their airline in advance of travel."

Temperatures fell to -1.1C at Dublin Airport overnight, while the lowest temperature, of -8.1C, was recorded at Met Éireann’s weather station in Athenry, Co Galway.

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