Floods warning as snow and ice give way to heavy rainfall
THE Big Freeze is over for now, but rain and milder temperatures this week will bring the risk of flooding.
Compacted ice on frozen ground may take several days to clear, meaning driving will still be hazardous -- especially in sheltered areas -- for the next few days, Met Eireann warned last night.
Dangerous conditions underfoot due to melting snow and ice led to the cancellation of the traditional 'Wren Boys' celebrations across the west yesterday.
And areas that were hit with heavy snowfalls over the past week are now bracing themselves for spot flooding. There will be large volumes of melting snow and ice, coupled with heavy rainfall which has been forecast for the next few days.
Up to 20mm of rain was expected to fall last night, with up to 40mm forecast for the south-west today. Counties Kerry, Cork and Waterford are expected to get the brunt of the downpours.
However, the snow, ice and bitterly cold temperatures that ushered in a white Christmas across most of the country are gone for the foreseeable future, according to meteorologist Klara Finkele.
"Things are improving. The Big Freeze is over for now -- but we don't know what will happen in the New Year," she said.
Daytime temperatures will remain mild today at between 6-10C, falling to 3 to 8C tonight.
Fresh winds will also pick up, with strong gusts in some coastal areas.
Rain will be persistent today and tomorrow -- although it will start to clear to the north-west by nightfall.
Temperatures will return to a more seasonable 7-10C but will turn slightly cooler in easterly winds and generally bright conditions.
But as conditions return to more seasonable temperatures, the Road Safety Authority is urging motorists to exercise extreme caution this week. Conditions will remain treacherous in many areas for the next few days.
"Roads right across the country will remain extremely dangerous with lingering patches of snow and ice posing serious risks for all road users," said RSA chief executive Noel Brett.
The last blast of Arctic air hit the country on Christmas Eve, and caused a lot of disruption.
Householders in north-east Dublin woke up to no water or reduced water pressure on Christmas Day as subzero temperatures froze water valves in the Fairview area that supply Clontarf, Killester and Raheny.
Dublin City Council last night warned of more potential disruptions to the water supply due to thawing conditions which may lead to damage to water mains.
Meanwhile, residents in parts of Galway were left without water over the weekend due to the freezing conditions, and had to fill bottles from street pumps.
About 4,000 ESB customers were left in the dark on Christmas Eve as temperatures as low as -16C caused temporary power failures in Swinford and Boyle in Co Roscommon. Ballyragget in Co Kilkenny was the worst hit, affecting about 2,000 customers. Electricity was restored around midnight.
Melting snow led to dangerous driving conditions around Kiltimagh and Knock and Foxford in Co Mayo, while burst water pipes affected thousands of homes in Erris, Co Mayo.
Two Chinese tourists who were led astray by the sat-nav device in their rented car had to be rescued from the Wicklow mountains on Christmas Eve.
The couple had been visiting Glendalough when the gadget directed them to the treacherous Sally Gap area that was impassable with snow and ice.