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big freeze Risk of 36-hour heavy snow showers as temperatures plummet to -5C

Some roads along higher ground are likely to be left impassable due to deep snow accumulations today.

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Cold weather (stock). (Joe Giddens/PA)

Cold weather (stock). (Joe Giddens/PA)

Cold weather (stock). (Joe Giddens/PA)

The country is braced for the heaviest snowfalls of the winter as a Status Yellow snow and ice warning came into force for Leinster, Connacht and Munster.

Met Éireann issued the warning amid fears between 5cm and 10cm of snow could fall across some areas overnight into this morning – with 20cm or more along mountainous areas.

It will also prove the coldest night of the year, with temperatures dropping to as low as minus 5C.

The Arctic conditions prompted the Peter McVerry Trust (PMVT), the national housing and homeless charity, to trigger their emergency extreme weather response plan in Dublin, Kildare, Meath and Wicklow.

The charity will now deliver 126 additional bed spaces as its works to persuade rough sleepers to avail of extreme weather beds.

“We have been working with Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE) as well as the local authorities of Kildare, Meath and Wicklow. Across these four areas we have put in place additional accommodation capacity of up to 126 additional bed spaces during this extreme weather event,” confirmed PMVT chief executive Pat Doyle.

The conditions have also prompted a number of counties, including Cork, to issue flood warnings over the impact of melted snow hitting already swollen rivers and streams this weekend.

Some roads along higher ground are likely to be left impassable due to deep snow accumulations today.

Councils gritted roads multiple times over the day in preparation for the snow and ice as the Beast from the East II continues to sweep west over Europe from Scandinavia and Siberia.

Both an Garda Síochána and the Road Safety Authority (RSA) urged people to take care when undertaking essential journeys.

A number of traffic incidents across Leinster and north Munster were linked to icy conditions.

Pedestrians were also warned to take extreme care on icy footpaths and roads and to wear high-visibility jackets and warm clothing.

The Status Yellow alert will remain in force until 8am tomorrow with risks of heavy snow showers for 36 hours as Ireland shivers in the arctic conditions.

Met Éireann’s Matthew Martin warned that conditions in some areas could prove quite treacherous.

It will remain bitterly cold throughout today, with highest daytime temperatures of 3C and the mercury plummeting to minus 5C overnight.

“Sleet and snow in the southwest on Thursday morning will extend northeast across Munster, Connacht and south Leinster through the day, with snow accumulations leading to hazardous conditions,” he said.

"Friday will see some falls of sleet or snow in Leinster while rain continues in the south.”

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