Snow and ice give way to torrential rain and floods
Snow and ice were replaced by torrential rain and flooding as the unforgiving winter weather took another turn yesterday.
Munster experienced the worst of it, with flooding in Cork city and near record rainfall in Co Kerry.
Yesterday Met Eireann said the big freeze should be over by Saturday, with "normal" weather of wind and rain returning.
The country was in the middle of a "transition period" and the widespread freezing conditions would end tonight, it said. However, roads would remain dangerous.
"The winds won't be as intense but there's still a risk of some sleet and snow on higher ground," Met Eireann said.
"There will be dry spells in west Munster and Connacht, and temperatures will be 6-8C in the south and south-west, 3-6C in the midlands and 2-4C in the north.
"Nowhere will be below freezing and the strong gusts should ease off."
But the prospect of lighter winds was cold comfort to passengers left stranded at Cork Airport yesterday, where storm-force gales of up to 120kmh disrupted flights.
Heavy rainfall combined with melting snow also swamped drains and resulted in several rivers bursting their banks around the south-west.
Cork -- still recovering from the worst floods in the city's 800-year history last November -- suffered widespread flooding in the Lee Road, Kinsale Road, Sarsfield Road and School Hill areas.
Flash floods made some roads impassable, while high winds also brought down a number of trees.
In Skibbereen, west Co Cork, members of the Civil Defence and the Defence Forces helped to distribute sandbags in the town after a flood alert was issued.
The Defence Forces remained on standby last night, ready to assist local authorities if called on.
In Co Kerry an almost record-breaking amount of rain fell, with 44mm of rain logged at a weather station in Valentia at noon -- just 7.2mm short of the record level for a 12-hour period set last November in Cork.
Up to 5,000 householders in Co Carlow and Co Wexford were without power for a number of hours, and snow returned to parts of the south-east.
Blizzards swept across parts of counties Kilkenny and Carlow while counties Wexford, Waterford and south Tipperary experienced a day of almost constant rainfall.
There was also snow in Co Mayo and in south Dublin, while thousands of homes in counties Limerick, Tipperary and Clare were left without water for a second successive day.
ESB crews and Eircom engineers also tackled localised outages due to fallen branches and downed wires.
In Co Leitrim, the Defence Forces cleared ice from paths and roads, while motorists in Co Donegal were advised not to travel the Errigal road linking Termon to Dunlewey because of hazardous conditions -- up to six cars were reportedly off the road due to ice.
Secondary roads in north Connacht remained dangerous, and in Galway city drains were monitored amid concerns that grit would clog up underground pipes.
There was limited interruptions to Dublin Bus services but Iarnrod Eireann operated all routes. Dublin traffic was very busy with the M50 slow at Ballinteer due to heavy snow.
AA Roadwatch advised motorists to take extra care on secondary routes and in housing estates where conditions remain very slippery, with heavy snow reported in Dundrum and Ballinteer and slushy conditions in Glencullen and Stepaside.
- Additional reporting by , Ralph Riegel, Brian McDonald and Conor Kane