Arctic weather brings country to standstill
Commuters face further chaos as salt supplies running low
Published 02/12/2010 | 05:00
THE country is in lockdown today as forecasters warn the big freeze will last for at least another week.
Swathes of the country are at a standstill with roads left ungritted, planes grounded and public transport services cancelled -- and temperatures are due to plummet even further.
Travel chaos forced tens of thousands of commuters to spend hours stuck in traffic last night. Many others were left stranded and forced to walk home after bus services were cancelled.
Traffic in the capital came to a virtual standstill as main roads became ice-rinks despite the efforts of council gritters.
A packed bus took more than an hour to travel from Aston Quay to Wellington Quay, a distance of less than 200 metres.
Conditions deteriorated later and Dublin Bus closed down all its routes at 8pm. Similar weather conditions are expected today, with widespread travel disruption forecast.
The cold snap is costing small businesses up to €7m a day and is having a devastating impact on the vulnerable.
Those affected include:
- Hundreds of thousands of people in receipt of social welfare will be forced to collect their payments from post offices after postal deliveries were suspended in many parts of the country.
- The blood bank issued an urgent call for donations, saying supplies were running dangerously low.
- Domestic water supplies were hit in Wicklow, Cork and Donegal -- restrictions in other counties are highly likely over the coming days.
- Eircom said 4,600 customers in Wicklow, Wexford, Carlow and Dublin were without telephone or broadband.
- UCD, DCU and Dublin Institute of Technology were forced to close, while hundreds of schools remained shut.
- The Defence Forces were delivering hot meals and medical supplies to people cut-off by the snow and ice in Dublin, Wicklow, Cork, Wexford, Kildare, Westmeath and Galway.
The sub-zero temperatures also sparked fears salt supplies could run out before the thaw comes. The biggest local authority in the country, Dublin City Council, warned it may have to ration its supply of grit. Some 4,000 tonnes is being spread across the national road network every day -- three times the normal usage.
The National Roads Authority said 50,000 tonnes was available -- just 12 days worth of supply -- but a delivery of up to 15,000 tonnes is expected within the next fortnight. The winter supply will be gone well before Christmas.
Dublin Airport was forced to suspend flights for much of yesterday because of snow, with dozens of flights diverted to Shannon. Flights in and out of Dublin were suspended last night at 7pm and will not resume until 12.30am today at earliest.Flights were also cancelled into regional airports.
Traffic came to a standstill in the greater Dublin area and commuters had to walk home after Dublin Bus was forced to cancel dozens of services.
There were no buses to heavily populated areas including Lucan, Blanchardstown and Ranelagh during the evening peak, while limited services ran to Tallaght, Ballyfermot, Howth, Malahide, Ballymun and Finglas. Commuter and DART trains were experiencing delays of up to 30 minutes.
Despite being gritted, the main arteries out of the capital including the M50, N11, M3 and M1 were treacherous as snow froze over.
All civil High Court cases due to be heard today are postponed.