Less snow but freezing rain to create more problems
Published 04/12/2010 | 05:00
FATIGUE among local authority staff is becoming a real issue as the big freeze enters its second week.
And while the worst of the snow is gone, severe cold and sub-zero temperatures of minus 8C will hit the midlands, east and south-east over the weekend with no sign of improving until the latter part of next week.
Up to 5,000 staff are now working around the clock to keep the country moving. Doctors and nurses are sleeping in hospitals, local authority gritting crews are working 24 hours and public transport staff are working flat out to keep services running.
But the constant workload is taking its toll. Director of the Government's emergency taskforce Sean Hogan yesterday warned that fatigue was becoming an issue.
"This has been a most severe test for our public services."
Postal services continue to be curtailed, and social welfare recipients have been given extra time to collect benefit cheques from post offices. Some 600 Eircom crews are working over the weekend to restore telephone and broadband services in Dublin, Wicklow, Carlow, Wexford, Laois and Meath.
The National Roads Authority has ordered local authorities to mix rock salt with sand/grit to conserve supplies. A plea was also made for businesses to clear snow from their footpaths.
Gerard Fleming from Met Eireann said that freezing rain would become a real issue over the coming days.
The weather in the west will improve, with temperatures of up to 7C during the day, but there would not be a "significant thaw" until late next week.
Roads were closed as black ice and heavy snow showers caused havoc around Mullingar, Tullamore and Birr.
Offaly County Council is to stop salting some roads over the weekend to conserve salt stocks and 11 routes will cleared by snow ploughs instead.
Laois is distributing grit to community organisations, and some roads are closed. Westmeath roads are also dangerous.
The M4, M7 and the M9 in Kildare were dangerous and drivers were advised to avoid the outside lane.
Public transport services in Dublin ran for much of the day, but there were delays and cancellations. Conditions remain dangerous in Louth, Monaghan, Cavan and Wicklow.
Temperatures in Co Carlow dropped to minus 12.9C yesterday morning, and some roads in the county were impassable.
There were major disruptions to public transport in Wexford and Waterford, with black ice on the N11 Gorey bypass.
Traffic chaos in Cork after heavy snowfall resulted in a spate of traffic accidents.
A four-mile tailback developed on the Cork-Waterford road at Dunkettle while Cork Airport was left temporarily inaccessible along the Kinsale Road due to black ice.
Some upland areas of the county have have now been effectively cut off for five days.
The Kerry Mountain Rescue Team warned hill-walkers of the possibility of avalanches.
The west of the country was among the worst hit yesterday, with dangerous driving conditions.
Roads in Mayo are very dangerous, but a thaw is expected this weekend. Galway had overnight rain, and roads in Connemara were dangerous.
Heavy falls of snow across Leitrim, Donegal and Sligo resulted in hazardous driving conditions.
Badly affected routes included the Barnesmore Gap on the N15 between Donegal town and Ballybofey. Major delays were also reported on the N15 and the Inishowen peninsula, which got over 15cm of snow.