No end in sight as freeze tightens grip on country
THE country will be hit with snow storms for the entire weekend as Met Eireann yesterday warned the cold weather will continue for at least another week.
Up to 5cm of snow fell in Dublin yesterday and, at one point, the capital was hit with a thunder storm.
Met Eireann issued a severe weather warning last night after temperatures were forecast to fall to as low as -8C.
Forecaster Vincent O'Shea said driving conditions would become even more hazardous over the coming days, with no respite in the freezing temperatures expected.
"There's no let-up at all," he said. "We cannot see any improvement. Over the weekend, snow looks like it could be widespread across the country.
"Temperatures will fall to -4C and we know for certain that it's not getting milder. There is at least another week of this."
The lowest temperature yesterday was in Baldonnell, which recorded a low of -5.1C.
There was a rapid deterioration in road conditions from mid-afternoon yesterday after snow and hail began freezing.
Roads in the south of the city were closed, and the quays were very dangerous.
The M50 was treacherous, especially between the Ballymount and Leopardstown junctions, with exit ramps particularly dangerous.
In Meath, the N2 was reduced to one lane at Ashbourne, with delays of up to an hour on the M7 in Kildare.
Roads in Louth were very dangerous, particularly on the M1 Dundalk/Drogheda Road at Monasterboice, around Ardee and on the Dundalk/ Carrickmacross Road.
Wexford county council and town councils ran out of salt, meaning that only grit could be used to de-ice roads.
Senior executive roads engineer Eddie Taaffe said the local authority only had the resources to grit major roads and people would just have 'to grin and bear it' until the thaw sets in.
There were treacherous conditions on the N11 Enniscorthy/Gorey Road, with problems reported around Ashford, Arklow, Wexford, Bunclody, Gorey and Carnew.
There was heavy snowfall in parts of Carlow and Kilkenny.
Most of Donegal's main routes were left unsalted with the council resorting to an alternative mixture of sand and grit to conserve supplies.
Hundreds of schools in Sligo, Leitrim and Donegal announced they would not be reopening until Monday. Severe weather is also creating havoc for farmers accessing animals to deliver fodder and water.
A slight thaw helped ease motorists and pedestrians' fears across Limerick yesterday, but ongoing concerns persist in Clare where sleet and snow are expected today.
Ten gritters continued to work on 750km of road in Limerick, while Clare county council has deployed eight gritters to maintain 550km of routes.
Very icy roads on the N2 Monaghan/Castleblayney Road while, in Cavan, motorists faced treacherous conditions around Bailieborough particularly on the Kingscourt Road, Shercock Road and Virginia Road.
It was very dangerous on the N16 Enniskillen/Sligo Road between Blacklion and Glenfarne.
Conditions in Longford and Westmeath remained dangerous.
Roads around schools remain treacherous, especially in rural parts of Galway, Mayo and Roscommon, meaning most will not open today.
The first district court sitting of the New Year in Castlebar, Co Mayo, was cancelled.
Black ice caused severe problems on both Cork and Kerry roads yesterday, with secondary roads in Meelin, Newmarket, Macroom, Mitchelstown, Blarney and Youghal impassable until the lunchtime thaw.
Several hillside routes in the north Cork town of Fermoy were closed by gardai over safety fears.
Motorists suffered tailbacks of up to five miles on the main Dublin approach to Cork city due to a spate of accidents.
Water supplies in Kerry may have to be curtailed in the coming days, Kerry county council warned yesterday, as freezing reservoirs are being drained by customers leaving taps dripping overnight.
- Additional reporting by Tom Shiel, Barry Duggan, Ralph Riegel, Brian McDonald, Brendan Furlong and Anne Lucey