Snow and ice will give way to rain and gale-force winds
PARTS of the country experienced the first signs of a thaw yesterday, rather than the predicted white-out.
Instead of the expected 10cm of snowfall, the east of the country was spared all but some light sleet showers as temperatures rose above 4C but there were heavy falls of snow in the south.
Met Eireann has predicted a gradual thaw over the coming days but it will be next weekend before the roads are expected to be free of ice and snow.
Falls of snow and sleet will continue to affect the north and parts of the west today, dying out by evening.
The rest of the country is heading for a period of wet and windy weather in the early part of this week, with gale-force winds in some areas tomorrow.
Temperatures will not be as severe as in recent days, rising to between 1C and 5C during the day.
As the week continues, the winds are expected to ease and any sleet or snow will die out, to be replaced by drier weather, with potentially frosty nights.
Water shortages continue to present a major problem to homeowners across the country, as burst water mains leave many without supplies.
Kerry was among the counties to experience heavy falls of snow yesterday, particularly in upland areas.
The county borders with Limerick and Cork remained passable and, despite poor road conditions, the Magillacuddy Reeks and other walking routes were busy.
Snow across Limerick and Clare continued to make driving conditions treacherous.
The snow was enough to stop all flights in and out of Cork Airport but a decision on re-opening the airport was due to be made last night.
Council officials in Cork and Kerry last night said they had sufficient salt to continue gritting roads until the middle of the week.
However, Cork City Council said water levels in its reservoirs had fallen so low that it would be forced to reduce water pressure across the network.
Meanwhile, an Air Corps helicopter was used to airlift a 10-month-old baby from Cork University Hospital to Crumlin Children's Hospital last night.
Heavy snowfalls forced the cancellation of bus services from mid- to late afternoon. Maryborough Hill in Cork city was described as "lethal" while cars were abandoned on the Mallow to Fermoy road after a fall of up to 6cm of snow. A number of taxi companies in the region closed at 5pm.
Intermittent weekend snowfall has led to dangerous driving conditions throughout the midlands. In Offaly, Birr-based Loughnane Concrete was offering free grit to the council and individuals.
In Mullingar, the Army and local authority used tankers to provide water to householders. Water supplies in the area are being cut from 8pm to 7am daily.
More than 1,000 householders battled their way through ice and snow yesterday to access emergency water points set up across Carlow and Kilkenny.
Teams of local authority plumbers were also on call to assist householders whose water and central-heating systems had been disrupted by freezing conditions.
Emergency response telephone numbers were set up in both counties to help "where humanitarian assistance is required for people snow-bound who need medical attention or who have no water, fuel or food" and were receiving up to 100 calls an hour.
In Kilkenny the emergency response number is 056 779-4145 and the number in Carlow is 059 9170302 or 1890 500333.
Water staff on Sligo County Council worked throughout the weekend attending to two burst water mains, with some residents expected to remain without supplies overnight.
Leitrim and Donegal County Councils were also continuing to conserve supplies with staff being called out to attend to several incidents of frozen pipes and leaks. Donegal County Council was again urging keyholders of vacant premises, including schools, to check for burst pipes and water damage.
The Defence Forces were out in Leitrim over the weekend, with about 20 soldiers from Finner Camp in Donegal gritting roads. Letterkenny General Hospital is accommodating frontline staff in nearby hotels to ensure that services are maintained through the ongoing cold snap.
Residents' associations across Galway took deliveries of grit from the city council in a bid to free up icy roads and footpaths in estates.
One enterprising Galway city hotel has come up with the novel offer of a room for a week for just €100, for commuters experiencing difficulty on the roads. Meanwhile, thousands of homes across the west have been left without water.