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Friday 19 September 2014

Forecasters predict 'normal' winter

Published 11/11/2013 | 15:41

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Forecasters expect a normal winter, bringing its share of wet weather, windy weather and some frosty nights

No big freezes or major floods are expected this coming winter, with forecasters predicting nothing out of the ordinary.

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As the Government Task Force on Emergency Planning launched its third annual winter ready campaign, head of forecasting at Met Eireann Gerald Fleming said there is no reason to believe this winter will be "particularly severe".

"There is nothing in the runes to suggest that it will be anything other than a normal winter, bringing its share of wet weather, windy weather and some frosty nights," Mr Fleming said.

Despite his prediction, the task force will have salt stocks of 210,000 tonnes in storage to treat the nation's roads, and the motorway operators will have an additional 30,000.

Chairman of the Government task force Justice Minister Alan Shatter said there will be "enough salt to keep every fish and chip shop around the country operating for over a decade".

He pointed out this compares with the 130,000 tonnes that were used during the big freeze of 2010.

"Safety on our roads is at all times necessary, but particularly when severe weather makes driving difficult or hazardous," Mr Shatter said.

"Drivers can do a lot to avoid difficulties when bad conditions prevail by taking the advice being issued, particularly from Met Eireann and An Garda Siochana."

The minister said he had received assurances from Met Eireann that severe winters occur roughly once every decade.

But he insisted it is not possible to determine with any certainty what the long-term winter weather will be like.

The "Be Winter-Ready" information campaign is made up of information from different Government departments, gardai, the Health Service Executive, local authorities and transport providers.

It includes a dedicated website, a booklet and a new Twitter account with tweets from the Office of Emergency Planning.

Environment Minister Phil Hogan insisted the "whole Government" approach would ensure authorities are well prepared to deal with an unexpected onslaught of severe weather.

"Drawing on the experience of previous years and lessons learned, both central and local government are prepared and ready to respond to incidents of severe weather and to restore normal society's functioning," Mr Hogan said.

"The generic emergency management system is now in place and as well as our experience, exercises dealing with weather-related emergency scenarios have been conducted."

Press Association

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