Nation on flood alert as melting snow threatens to swell rivers
IRELAND was placed on flood alert last night amid fears that heavy rainfall and melting snow and ice could swamp streams and rivers, particularly in parts of Connacht and Munster.
Householders living near mountain streams were also warned about the danger of flash floods as the huge volume of snow on hillsides began to melt.
Many parts are still recovering from the November deluge, when homes and businesses were destroyed by the worst floods in living memory. But forecasters warned that heavy rainfall was on the way.
Met Eireann predicted sleet for the south, saying a "mixed bag" of weather conditions was expected over the coming week.
Localised flooding in Munster was possible with 45-50mm of rain expected to fall today and varying temperatures across the country.
"It's going to be very wet and windy weather in the south and south west, with sleet and snow in north Leinster and Ulster, forecaster Pat Clarke said.
"There'll probably be some localised flooding in Munster with 40-50mm of rain to fall on the south coast, and 20-25mm in north Munster.
"The worst of the rain will be in the south and some will edge up to Connacht and Leinster from later (today), where it might fall as sleet.
"Tomorrow will be cold in the west and south with sub-zero temperatures, and just above freezing on the east coast. We're not finished with the ice and snow yet."
The thaw brought new headaches for householders and local authorities as burst and frozen pipes left people without water.
Sligo and Donegal county councils warned that disruptions could be expected in the coming days, while the Army was out in Leitrim as troops from Finner Camp in Donegal gritted footpaths and rural roads in Carrick-On-Shannon, Drumshanbo, Ballinamore, Manorhamilton and Kinlough.
Leitrim County Council said the situation regarding water supplies was improving.
Gardai advised caution as shaded stretches and secondary roads were still covered in black ice. Roads in counties Roscommon and Galway remained dangerous, along with secondary roads around Westport and Castlebar in Co Mayo.
All counties reported difficulties with water supplies. In Mayo, warnings were again issued asking the public to keep away from frozen lakes.
Water collection points were set up after thousands of homeowners were left with no supply.
In Clare a mobile tanker was used in Ennis, Shannon and Clarecastle while standpipes were provided in Limerick city.
Bus Eireann was forced to cancel some services because of treacherous driving conditions. Gardai warned all motorists to travel with extreme care following the partial thaw.
Kerry awoke to a blanket of snow yesterday morning with many roads barely passable.
The long-awaited thaw didn't begin to set in until the afternoon. In Killarney roads were covered in snow and the main roads from the town to Tralee and Cork were barely passable in some areas.
Rural bus services were also cancelled.
Transport services in Cork were crippled as the region suffered its worst bout of snow and ice in the cold snap.
Cork Airport was forced to close for more than 14 hours, which affected 5,000 passengers hit by 50 flight cancellations and delays.
Nine Bus Eireann routes were cancelled, while the northside of the city was left without a service until mid-afternoon.
The thaw left motorists struggling to gain traction because of ice and slush on roads. Some main routes were treacherous, which forced Waterford Institute of Technology to cancel all lectures.
Water shortages continue to be a problem, with local authorities in Carlow and Kilkenny organising deliveries to residential areas.
Residents of the Gorey area had their water stopped as the council aimed to save supplies.
The Army were on hand to bring staff of Tullamore Hospital to and from work yesterday.
Two soldiers using one army vehicle provided help to the Health Service Executive, while elsewhere two trucks and four soldiers helped Westmeath County Council with water distribution in the Mullingar area.
A Birr-based company, Loughnane's Concrete, made sand available for free to Offaly and North Tipperary county councils, while a slip road close to Portlaoise had to close after a truck shed its load during the morning.
Meanwhile, in north Tipperary an elderly day-care centre was forced to close.
Slush and surface water caused problems for motorists on many routes in the city, with ice still on the ground on secondary roads and housing estates.
All gates to the Phoenix Park were re-opened after being closed for much of the past week, but parts of the park remain very icy.
Traffic moved well in the city yesterday, and Dublin Bus was forced to operate only five restricted services.
Regional reports by Ralph Riegel, Brian McDonald, Anne Lucey, Tom Shiel, Paddy Clancy and Conor Kane