Monday 26 August 2019

Brace yourselves - 5 things that inevitably happen in Ireland as snow and ice descend

PIC: RTE Six One News January 2010
PIC: RTE Six One News January 2010
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

Recent days have been full of yellow and orange weather alert this, snow and ice warning that.

It's been a while since we have experienced a genuine cold snap or seen a solitary flake of snow as last winter was exceptionally mild.  And when it comes to the weather our memories are notoriously short.

So, with temperatures plummeting and the words 'snow' and 'ice' being bandied about, here are a few things that will inevitably happen...


You'll forget about de-icing your windscreen...

Stock image

...until you're already ten minutes late for work and are sitting in the car with your frostbitten fingers clutching the steering wheel and the heater on full blast (even though it's freezing) and the wipers scratching frantically and fruitlessly across an inch of ice.


Ditto for adding de-icer to your windscreen washer.  Or leaving the tap on a teeny tiny bit so your pipes won't freeze and burst.


There will be broken bones

Even a teeny tiny solitary patch of ice can leave you crumpled in a sorry heap of shame and pain, but when the ice is widespread things get really dangerous.  During the big freeze of January 2010 staff at the Mater Hospital in Dublin feared they would run out of plaster of Paris after they saw a four fold increase in the number of broken bones.  Broken wrists, ankles and coccyx bones (ouch!) were the most common fractures as people slipped on the ice that covered every inch of every road and footpath in the country for days on end.  The lad who featured on RTE Six One news went viral because he was all of us that January...

One woman battled back with her own bottle of Saxa in Dublin's city centre.  There's a lesson for all of us here.
A woman fights the icy footpaths with salt in central Dublin


We'll face an eight hour round trip to and from work

No matter how much salt your local authority stocks up on, or how many snow ploughs are on standby, you'll still get stuck in the Bermuda Triangle of commuting hell.  Think rail strike times five.  Even if snow is not widespread, pockets of coverage can still wreak havoc with bus, LUAS and train schedules.  And if they're all affected, good luck. 

Snow Morning March 2016 _12.jpg
A snowy morning in Dublin (Photo: Kyran O'Brien)

Rather than stay at home, of course, we'll still battle to get to work.  Drivers will crawl through snow in rear wheel drive cars, swearing as it starts to slide sideways on the motorway or slip precariously back down that M50 exit (yes, this happens). Public transport people will risk their tailbones by sliding their way through town in inappropriate footwear.

Just stay at home lads.


We'll run out of salt for the roads

Lets hope the local authorities have longer memories than the rest of us and have stocked up on salt supplies.  Back in 2010 when the country was gripped by icy weather many supplies dwindled and there were fears we would run out completely, roads would close, and the country would come to an eerie standstil. 

A snow plough grits the road near Glenveagh National Park, Co Donegal


Supermarkets will have a field day... we stock up on essentials like bread and milk and wine. Your local Aldi will look like the apocalypse is imminent.  Before Ophelia hit last month Irish retailers in some areas saw a spike in sales likened to a 'mini Christmas'.  Imagine what actual Christmas combined with the threat of icy weather will do?  Best get down there now and shop like there's no tomorrow.

Shelves formerly holding water bottles sit empty at a supermarket before the arrival of Hurricane Matthew in South Daytona, Florida


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