| 6.4°C Dublin

Big freeze set to return with temperature of -4C forecast

SEVERE frost, snow showers and icy roads will return with a vengeance tomorrow with Met Eireann forecasting night-time temperatures falling to -4C in some places.

And temperatures could remain below freezing until next Tuesday. Forecaster Eoin Sherlock said all areas will be hit tomorrow with the north and west continuing to suffer into next week.

But the National Roads Authority said there was plenty of salt to keep the main roads open. Some 2,000 tonnes a night is being spread, spokesman Sean O'Neill said.

"There's almost 50,000 tonnes on hand," he said. "We're in good stead and more is on the way. We're up to seasonal norms and are using about 2,000 tonnes a night, but some regions don't need any."

Met Eireann last night warned the mercury would plummet as the cold winter continues to grip the country.

A cold weather system will arrive late tonight and into tomorrow morning, he said, affecting most areas.

"It will come from the south- west, and there will be rain along the south and east coast," he said. "There'll be a lot of rain but when it meets the colder air it will fall as snow. It tracks up the country on Friday and will affect the vast majority of the country. Friday will see the major snow event, with patchy showers in the west and north.


"A lot of the country will have some snow at some time over Friday. On Saturday we can expect more showers of rain and snow on the west and north coasts.

"It is going to get cold at night, -3C or -4C generally, and -6C or -7C away from the coast. If there's any showers there will be icy stretches on the roads.

"There's a slight increase on Sunday night and a marked improvement from Tuesday of next week with high values of up to 11C and nights will be a lot warmer."

Meanwhile, wind power broke all records on St. Stephen's Day. Following record freezing temperatures, enough wind blew on December 26 to power almost 800,000 homes.

According to EirGrid, the national transmission operator, a level of 1,228 megawatts was reached at 4.15pm on St Stephen's Day, representing about one-third of national usage.

Energy Minister Eamon Ryan said the record wind generation showed that even on colder days, wind power could contribute greatly to Ireland's electricity system.

"This is hugely encouraging. Government policy is to facilitate investment in wind energy, to deliver a low-carbon, sustainable energy future for Ireland."

Irish Independent