WINTER is holding the country in an icy grip, with bitterly cold weather forecast for the weekend, stretching into the coming week.
Snow and sleet is expected to fall in many parts and Met Eireann issued a severe weather warning, saying the country was facing into a “cold regime” with motorists warned to be particularly careful on the roads.
Night-time temperatures tonight are expected to plunge to as low as minus seven degrees in Ulster, staying at around 0 to minus three degrees in most other parts.
And there is currently heavy flooding in Arklow, Bray and Wicklow town due to a deluge of rain over the previous 36 hours.
The main routes in and out of Wicklow town are impassable due to surface water while much of Arklow is heavily flooded with the main street, the south quays and the main routes, including the Dublin and Wexford roads impassable.
A number of roads in Arklow town are completely impassable while householders and businesses used sandbags to protect their properties.
“Everywhere is heavily flooded,” Arklow gardai told the Irish Independent.
The flooding led to huge tailbacks in the town and numerous single vehicle accidents as motorists slid off the road.
Meanwhile, Ulster bore the brunt of snow blizzards and high winds and there were warnings that snow or sleet could also fall along the east coast.
Several flights in and out of Ireland were cancelled, due mostly to snowfalls in the UK, while DART and commuter train services were hit due to flooding at Sandycove in south Dublin.
The Road Safety Authority reminded road users to remain extra vigilant on the roads, to watch out for black ice and to check their local weather forecast before making any journeys.
The weather on Saturday will be better, with no heavy rainfall expected though it will be very cold with ground frost and the risk of freezing fog and icy patches.
The north and east of the country will be most at risk of snow flurries, though they should be fairly light.
However, the night will be “very, very cold” according to Met Eireann forecaster Pat Clarke, who said temperatures will plunge below freezing in most parts, or as low as minus seven in Ulster.
The north west has been spared any significant snow, with most confined to the hills of Sligo, Donegal and Leitrim.
In Donegal the county council has fitted snow ploughs to more than 20 vehicles in case snow falls at lower levels over the weekend.
Torrential rainfall left roads in parts of north and west Cork flooded.
Worst hit were swollen smaller rivers in north Cork and west Cork which were unable to take the water flow.
Roads around Glanworth and Ballyhooly in north Cork were left impassable due to flooding while in west Cork the worst floods hit minor roads near Clonakilty, Dunmanway and Skibbereen.
Hundreds of acres of farmland in the Lee, Blackwater and Funcheon river valleys remain under water.
The southwest was bathed in winter sunshine with temperatures hitting seven degrees. The cool dry conditions are set to remain for much of the weekend.
Extra caution was required by motorists on approach roads to Limerick city this morning following heavy overnight rain.
Flooding on country roads in the Ballyneety area of Limerick and in Ardnacrusha, Co Clare resulted in slow traffic but no incidents were reported.
The west escaped the worst of the bad weather although Met Eireann is forecasting a steady drop in temperatures over the weekend. Temperatures will drop to just one degree in Galway tomorrow while it will be zero in Mayo