Wrap up, freezing weather to worsen this weekend with plunging temperatures
THE cold snap is set to worsen just in time for the Christmas shopping rush. Temperatures will plunge to minus 4C over the weekend, causing even more widespread black ice and frost on roads.
Motorists were warned today to be aware of icy conditions on many main and secondary roads with sharp ground frost and ice making driving conditions very dangerous.
And Met Eireann warned that while it will be very cold tonight with temperatures falling between zero and minus 3C, it will get even colder from Saturday night.
Wintry showers, with hail, sleet and snow, will fall across the country tomorrow. It will stay cold on Saturday, with more showers in the west and north as the chilly northerly winds persist.
However, night temperatures will plummet to as low as minus 4C, with widespread severe frost and icy patches. Sunday will be similar, with further showers and low temperatures.
Gardai are advising motorists to drive with extra care on all secondary routes around Portlaoise due to icy roads.
National Roads Authority (NRA) spokesman Sean O'Neill said they currently had 150,000 tonnes of salt available for gritting national roads, and an additional 60,000 for local authorities to use on regional and local roads.
"We have plenty of salt," he said, adding that drivers could check local road conditions and temperatures on the NRA website, nratraffic.ie.
The Road Safety Authority urged drivers to exercise caution and consider postponing journeys unless absolutely necessary.
Gardai warned motorists to take care on the N80 Tullamore/ Moate Rd between Tullamore and Clara in Co Offaly and the Clonmel to Fethard road in Tipperary due to black ice.
Heavy snow around Mountmellick also caused dangerous driving conditions last night, with particular care urged around Clonaslee.
There was traffic chaos yesterday as floods forced gardai to close several main roads.
More than a dozen collisions occurred in less than an hour yesterday morning as icy roads brought Cork traffic to a standstill. Overnight snow, which thawed and then refroze, resulted in numerous roads covered in black ice, with several routes virtually impassable.
Higher ground in north and west Cork was covered in snow as temperatures plummeted and gardai urged motorists to avoid specific ice-hit roads.
These included the Crossbarry-Ballinhassig route and back roads in Glanmire, Douglas, Bantry-Glengarriff and around Fermoy, Watergrasshill, Kanturk and Mallow.
ESB crews finished repairs to the power network in west Cork, which had been hit by winds that gusted to almost 120kmh as a further 48-hour weather warning was issued.
The Ramelton Road in Letterkenny and the main dual carriageway to Derry were both closed for a time as more than 60mm of overnight rain led to widespread flooding.
Around 5,500 Eircom customers are without service due to stormy weather conditions in many parts of the country.
Eircom Director of Communications Paul Bradley said the network was experiencing continuing disruption due to weather conditions and the worst affected regions are the northwest, northeast and southwest..
Over 4,000 faults were recorded on Monday and Tuesday.