IRELAND can say goodbye to the last of the bitter frosts tonight, but there will be little consolation in the days ahead, forecasters say.
There were minor snowfalls in several areas of the country yesterday, the worst in Co Donegal where gardai dealt with a number of minor traffic accidents.
Snow also fell in Wicklow and Wexford, and falls from previous days continued to lie in many other counties as temperatures remained below zero. Co Sligo was the coldest place yesterday, with temperatures falling to -8C.
Motorists were warned to be cautious again this morning and tonight, with temperatures as low as -5C predicted, especially in the Midlands.
A new weather system from the Atlantic will bring rain tomorrow, and temperatures in the south will rise to 11C by Friday.
It will remain cold in the north of the country throughout the weekend, with the chance of further snow, sleet or hail.
Mark Dunphy, editor of Irish online weather website meteotimes.net, said the late blast of winter wasn't as bad as in previous years.
"Snowfalls and severe overnight frosts in March are not uncommon," he said.
"Four-foot snowdrifts affected much of the country in March 1947 and 15cms fell in Mullingar in March 1951.
"Temperatures in Kilkenny on March 1, 2004 fell to -14C. Now, that was cold."
Mr Dunphy said motorists needed to be extra careful over the next 24 hours.
He warned: "Most roads have been free from ice, but with more humidity on Wednesday and Thursday there's a chance of more dangerous conditions."
Age Action Ireland has urged communities not to forget elderly neighbours in the cold weather.
"The cold can kill and does kill in Ireland," said the charity's spokesman Eamon Timmins.
He said it is "vital that communities play their part by calling to older neighbours over the coming days to ensure they do not have to venture out for provisions such as food, fuel or medical supplies".