Little cause for cheer as snow, gales and black ice forecast until weekend
Published 14/12/2011 | 05:00
MOTORISTS face dangerous icy conditions for the rest of the week as the mercury falls well below freezing point.
Met Eireann has issued another severe weather alert with black ice, snow and gales forecast.
With no sign of the cold snap ending, the Road Safety Authority (RSA) has warned drivers about the crash risks posed by black ice and strong gusts on many roads, especially after dark.
There is also a danger of branches of trees and other debris being blown on to roads.
Gardai have also warned that spot flooding due to heavy rainfall over the previous 48 hours has significantly increased the risk of black ice over the next few days.
RSA chief executive Noel Brett said: "If the road looks polished or glossy it could be black ice and it's difficult to see.
"It is nearly transparent ice that often looks like a harmless puddle or is overlooked entirely. Watch out for black ice, especially in sheltered or shaded areas on roads, under trees and adjacent to high walls."
Drivers were urged to only undertake journeys over higher ground if absolutely necessary.
Severe weather is expected to remain for the next 48 hours with another powerful storm set to hit Ireland and the UK from tomorrow.
Winds as strong as 140kmh swept across the north coast yesterday, and the RSA warned drivers to expect gusts at open areas, where gaps in high buildings or hedgerows can create a wind channel.
Long traffic delays are again expected on many main roads today.
Roads including the M6 Dublin-Galway motorway became very slippery after falls of snow and sleet yesterday, forcing drivers to slow down.
Rush-hour commuters were hit by long delays from Dublin city centre last night.
Met Eireann said rain, sleet and snow would affect Connacht and Munster this morning, but the rest of the country would be mainly dry.
However, temperatures are set to drop to below zero tonight in many areas, leading to frost and ice on roads.
There's also the risk of some sleety rain or snow and strong winds in the south-west and south early in the night.
Rain, sleet and snow are expected to move up from the south tomorrow and there is a risk of very windy or stormy conditions developing, especially in southern and midland areas.
AA Roadwatch reported a 20pc increase in breakdowns, with one car breaking down every three minutes, mainly caused by flat batteries.
"Temperatures are just getting to that point where weaker batteries are likely to be affected," said Noel Keogh, head of AA Rescue.
Irish Coast Guard manager Declan Geoghegan warned the public not to go out on exposed coasts, cliffs, piers, harbour walls, beaches, promenades or any other coastal areas during the gales.
Over 3,000 people nationwide were left without electricity as ESB crews worked to repair power networks stretching from Cork to Donegal.