Sunday 16 December 2018

Heavy snow catches the country cold just two weeks after Emma

Stewart Makensie-Smith and his daughter Mya from Newbridge sledging down the slopes of the Curragh Photo: Michael Donnelly
Stewart Makensie-Smith and his daughter Mya from Newbridge sledging down the slopes of the Curragh Photo: Michael Donnelly
Ian Begley

Ian Begley

Swathes of the country were caught cold by heavy snowfall that wrecked festivities, cancelled sporting events and delayed flights.

Many were surprised to see deep snow hit eastern parts of the country yesterday morning, just two weeks after the chaos of Storm Emma.

Met Éireann moved to extend its Status Orange snow-ice warning until the evening as Ireland again shivered under a white blanket.

But there was little in the way of communication from the Government yesterday morning, with the majority of ministers currently abroad on St Patrick's Day trips.

It was in stark contrast to the careful media management during Storm Emma.

Just two weeks after the blizzard and the 'Beast from the East', there had been some talk of the 'Son of the Beast'.

But while many were expecting cold winds and snow showers, parts of the country instead woke up to several centimetres of snow.

Homeless charities scrambled to deal with the situation, with one admitting it had been "caught on the hop", while businesses and public transport suffered disruption.

The Fr Peter McVerry Trust said that while the number of beds for the homeless was adequate, it was moving staff around that was causing the most problems.

"We were caught on the hop to some degree. We all expected a few flurries of snow but we didn't expect it to as bad as it was," its CEO, Pat Doyle, said.

Thousands of people were left disappointed as highly anticipated events were put on ice - including the homecoming of Ireland's Grand Slam-winning rugby team.

The event was only announced on Saturday night, and was cancelled just a few hours later as conditions startlingly deteriorated.

Thousands had been expected to brave the elements to salute the boys in green at the Aviva Stadium, but organisers could not take the risk of letting the event go ahead.

St Patrick's Festival events that were also scheduled to take place, including the Big Day Out and the Road Race, were cancelled at short notice.

There were a number of collisions on the roads, and motorists struggled to get moving away from the major arteries.

However, the authorities insisted that they had enough notice and had been ploughing and salting the primary routes.

Dublin City Council said it had "put plans and resources in place over the last number of days to deal with the forecasted weather. Roads crews have been in operation with snowploughs and salt gritters covering 300km of roads, concentrating on the main routes around the city".

The Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government insisted it gave local authorities and other agencies sufficient notice.

"All relevant agencies have severe weather emergency plans in place, and gritting, salting and other measures as required have [taken] and continue to take place as appropriate," said a spokesperson.

"Cold weather initiatives for rough sleepers are in place and additional capacity has been put in place to ensure that there are additional bed spaces available for rough sleepers that would not normally avail of homeless services.

"While local authorities and Transport Infrastructure Ireland are working at ploughing and salting the primary routes, driving on secondary roads in affected areas will be very difficult. The key message is, as always, to avoid unnecessary travel over the weekend."

All of the Met Éireann weather stations across the country were below freezing on Saturday night, with the coldest station, Knock Airport, recording -4C.

There was as much as 7cm of snow in low-lying ground in the eastern parts of the country yesterday morning.

Wicklow saw some of the heaviest snowfalls. Arklow had up to 8cm on lower ground with 16cm on higher ground.

Irish Independent

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