DRIVERS are being put on black ice alert as the unseasonal cold snap continues.
More snow, ice and freezing temperatures are expected to create dangerous driving conditions in many parts of the country over the next 48 hours.
The Road Safety Authority (RSA) appealed to road users to take extra care as snow, ice and frost are expected today.
"Watch out for black ice. If the road looks polished or glossy, it could be black ice, one of winter's worst hazards," the RSA said.
The worst conditions will be in northern areas, northern and eastern parts of Leinster and north Connacht.
Met Eireann forecast more cold nights throughout the week with temperatures falling as low as -3C in places, and frost and icy patches in some areas.
Sleet and snow showers will continue throughout the day with accumulations of snow likely, especially on higher ground.
Drivers are also being warned to watch out for mist and fog.
The Met service said more snow and sleet would move into Ulster and north Leinster, bringing some accumulations of snow in places, even at lower levels.
The snow showers will extend into Donegal later today. The cold weather is expected to last into the weekend.
The RSA urged drivers to manoeuvre gently in snowy conditions, to slow down and leave extra distance between them and the vehicle in front.
The authority also advised: l Too much steering is bad. Avoid harsh braking and acceleration.
• Use the highest gear possible to avoid wheel spin. Select a low gear when travelling downhill especially if through bends. l Falling snow, fog, rain or hail will reduce visibility. Do not hang on to the tail lights of the vehicle in front of you as it can give a false sense of security. When you slow down, use your brakes so that the brake lights warn drivers behind you. l Watch out for vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. l Black ice is nearly transparent ice that often looks like a harmless puddle or is overlooked entirely. Watch out for it especially in sheltered /shaded areas on roads, under trees and adjacent to high walls.
Pedestrians and cyclists were advised: l Be seen. Wear bright clothing with reflective armbands or a reflective belt. l Take extra care when near traffic or crossing the road in extremely windy conditions. l While walking or entering and exiting your car or truck, do not underestimate the danger of ice. l If walking or cycling in fog, make sure you are clearly visible. Stay well in off the road where there is no footpath when vehicles are approaching.
Meanwhile, the unseasonal cold weather forced the owner of a tropical species exhibition to construct a new building to protect them.
Clive Alcorn of Tropical World in Letterkenny has imported hundreds of exotic butterflies. He is now making a second smaller house to save them from the cold.
"This time last year we had glorious weather," said Mr Alcorn. "The butterflies need 25C and I can't reach those temperatures with just oil heating, so I'm making a smaller conservatory inside the butterfly house."
The centre is due to re-open this Friday after the winter break.