Nationwide snow causes travel chaos as roads close and flights are cancelled
* Snow falls in Dublin grinding commuter traffic to a halt * Three flights between Dublin and Heathrow airport cancelled * Met Éireann issues a status orange alert
Snowstorms closed a number of roads around the country and grounded a number of London-bound flights as the cold snap continued this evening.
Motorists were urged to take extreme care while driving due to the extreme conditions, as the first snow has fell in Dublin.
Three flights destined for Heathrow were cancelled due to heavy snow in London also.
Aer Lingus and British Airways passengers were affected, however a spokeswoman for the Dublin Airport Authority said the airport remains operational.
Three flights between Dublin and Heathrow airport were cancelled earlier today due to the poor weather.
"This was to do with issues around Heathrow. Dublin airport has been fully operational today and remains so. There have been no issues this evening," the spokeswoman added.
Meanwhile, icy and snowy conditions have caused traffic delays nationwide and drivers in a number of areas have been urged to find alternative routes.
In Kerry, the Conor Pass was impassable due to snow according to AA Roadwatch.
KERRY UPDATE: It's now snowing heavily at the Conor Pass. Use an alternative route if you can. https://t.co/qvBPcgxUj8— AA Roadwatch (@aaroadwatch) January 12, 2017
Similarly in Donegal drivers have been advised of a number of roads which have been closed by the weather.
Grainne's Gap between Muff and Buncrana and Lough Salt Rd between Termon and Carrigart are both impassable due to snow according to the AA.
Gardai in Letterkenny have also warned of snowy conditions on the roads to both Buncrana and Ballybofey.
In Leitrim people have been asked to avoid the N16 and the Killargue.
Snow has also fallen on Navan and surrounding areas, affecting the Dublin-Cavan road.
Dublin Fire Brigade has urged drivers to slow down.
Snow has been reported in a number of areas in the city, including the inner city.
Elsewhere motorists have been advised of slippery driving conditions in Cork city centre due to earlier snow showers.
In Monaghan, gardai are urging caution on the N2 between Monaghan and Emyvale due to snowy conditions
A number of collisions have also been reported this evening adding to delays, including a crash on the N40 southbound in Cork and on the Navan/Kingscourt Road, which has just reopened following a crash.
Delays are also reported due to a multi-vehicle collision in Kildare, on the Clane/Kilcock Rd (R407) near Clongowes Wood which has now been cleared.
A second crash is also causing delays in Kildare, as gardai attend the scene of a multi-vehicle crash on the M7 flyover outside Naas.
KILDARE: Gardai are dealing with a multi-vehicle crash on the M7 flyover near Newhall Retail Park outside Naas. https://t.co/qvBPcgxUj8— AA Roadwatch (@aaroadwatch) January 12, 2017
Commuters in Dublin are also advised of delays in several part of the city, including in the city centre due to an accident on Eden Quay at the Rosie Hackett Bridge.
There has also been a crash on the m50, northbound at the Finglas junction.
A truck which broke down on on the R131 before the Tom Clarke Bridge according to Dublin City Council's traffic management centre caused delays but has now been cleared.
Met Éireann, which has issued a status orange alert, has predicted that the snow on higher ground includes a risks of blizzard conditions.
Wintry showers with strong winds, biting cold temperatures, snow, sleet and hail are extending to all areas this afternoon.
Met Éireann have confirmed wintry showers to be "increasingly falling as snow to lower levels as the day goes on".
And the temperatures have now dropped to between 3 and 5 degrees Celsius.
Dozens of gritting lorries were being prepared across the country last night as the first extensive snowfall of the winter is set to begin over Ulster and Connacht.
Met Éireann has warned residents living in counties Cavan, Monaghan, Donegal, Leitrim, Mayo and Sligo to brace themselves for extreme weather that could have a "significant impact".
Added to the mix is also the risk of scattered thunderstorms.
Met Éireann also issued a less severe 'status yellow' snow and ice alert for Munster and Leinster, as well as in Co Galway and Co Roscommon, which is due to remain in place until 6pm.
Local authorities, in conjunction with Transport Infrastructure Ireland, have stores of salt and gritting equipment ready to be deployed on major and secondary roads and footpaths.
A meeting of the National Emergency Co-ordination Group for Severe Weather was held yesterday.
It aims to ensure that all of the relevant authorities - including An Garda Síochána, the HSE, Defence Forces and all State transport operators - are monitoring the impact of the severe weather in their respective areas and are able to put into place their severe weather plans as needed.
In Donegal, where the worst of the snow is expected, the county council last night deployed 23 gritting lorries, which have all been adapted to also operate as snow ploughs.
"Staff will work across all main routes right throughout this weather alert and we are urging motorists to take extra care over the next couple of days," said a Donegal County Council spokeswoman.
Meanwhile, the public is being urged to keep abreast of local weather forecasts and conditions when planning journeys or other activities and to heed safety messages issued by relevant agencies.
"We haven't had truly icy conditions yet this winter but they may be on the way," Conor Faughnan, AA director of consumer affairs said. "Icy conditions and snow are a real danger for motorists."
The public is also being asked to call on elderly relatives and neighbours to offer assistance.
People are urged to visit www.winterready.ie to find information on how best to prepare for the poor weather.
Is it snowing in your area? Send us your pictures to email@example.com or tweet using the hashtag #IndoSnow