First flakes fall: Icy polar blast set to bring snow and sleet this weekend
The first snowflakes of the season have fallen as a 24-hour blast of winter is forecast for Ireland this weekend.
With a week of autumn still to go, sleet and snow will affect the west and north west from tonight.
Irish Olympic bronze medallist Michael Conlan has already updated his social media followers with a cool photo from Belfast this evening. "Snow time," he captioned the snap of light snow falling on the northern roads.
In Belfast's Kingspan Park, TV cameras showed sleet falling heavily onto the pitch after Ulster were beaten 27-9 by Saracens.
Meanwhile in Co Wicklow, AA Roadwatch have warned motorists to take 'extreme care' on some of the country's roads tonight.
The traffic crew report the council to be attending to the icy roads, but have also reported snowy conditions at Sally Gap.
Met Eireann have issued a Status Yellow weather warning, forecasting wintry showers tonight with sleet or snow.
A cold blast of polar air is expected tonight with lowest temperatures of -1 to 3 degrees. Ground frost is also expected in some areas.
WICKLOW: Icy road conditions and minor snowfall around the Sally Gap. Take extreme care in the area.— AA Roadwatch (@aaroadwatch) November 20, 2015
WICKLOW: There are also icy conditions on the Roundwood/ Kilmacanogue Rd (R755). The council is en route. Take extreme care in this area.— AA Roadwatch (@aaroadwatch) November 20, 2015
The cold weather comes after a week of constant rain in many of the same areas, along with chaos caused by floods and the winds from Storm Barney.
The last 100 of 45,000 customers who lost power in that storm were re-connected yesterday, ESB Networks said.
A number of faults across the country yesterday were not weather-related, said the company which dealt with 400 outages this week.
Temperatures dropped to just 3C in Leinster last night - with a warning for frost in sheltered areas.
Vcold today in a biting NW wind.Sctrd shwrs, wintry over high ground&in N.High2-4C in N 5-7C in S.W'ly winds veering NW incr fresh to strong— Met Éireann (@MetEireann) November 20, 2015
Met Éireann forecaster Louise Heraghty said it would be another blustery day today with showers in most areas.
"These will be most frequent in the north and they could turn wintry on Friday evening," she said.
Tonight temperatures are expected to fall to below freezing in some parts of Ireland, with many others approaching near freezing.
Ms Heraghty added: "It will be a similar pattern on Saturday where again wintry showers are possible, but will mainly affect higher ground.
"It will stay pretty cold over the weekend, with a sharp frost expected in some areas on Saturday night."
Looking towards the weekend, Met Éireann said it will feel particularly cold tomorrow, with daytime temperatures throughout the country hovering around 4C to 5C.
"Cloud will thicken in the west and some showery rain or sleet will develop there during the day and there will be afternoon temperatures of 4 or 5 degrees in many areas."
It warned that frost would develop over Saturday night, saying that: "[it] will become sharp or severe in some midland and eastern areas as winds fall off light."
However, it will be slightly milder again on Sunday after the frosty start with fewer showers and many more bright spells.
"There will be afternoon highs of 5 to 8 degrees," Met Éireann added.
Peter O'Donnell, forecaster with Irish Weather Online, said any snow tonight and over the weekend will be on higher ground.
"While no large falls of snow are expected, a few higher routes may develop some slippery travel conditions," he said.
"This outbreak will be short-lived and will begin to modify back to milder temperatures by Sunday.
"The wintry showers could show up further south too, but they will become increasingly brief and scattered so that larger population centres may not see much if any impact.
"It is something to be aware of, however, if you're travelling west or north."
He warned that winds will continue to be strong Friday, hitting 90kmh at times and turning more north-westerly.
"By Friday evening and overnight, 1-3 cm snowfalls are possible on higher terrain in the north, slushy partly melted hail lower down could be just as dangerous on roads," he said.
Some weather models, he said, were showing another cold snap the following weekend but it was too early to say for sure.
Next week, milder conditions will return with rain at times and highs of between 8C and 11C.
Met Éireann said it will be cold but mostly dry on Monday with winds backing west and later southwest.
"Latest indications suggest rain will spread eastwards from the Atlantic overnight.
"Tuesday and Wednesday with be less cold with mostly west or southwest breezes and frosts are less likely," it said.