Schools should be vigilant for severe weather - department warns as temperatures to drop as low as -7C
- Snow hits parts of the south and west
- Temperatures as low as -7C expected
- Motorists urged to use 'extra caution'
DRIVERS have been told to drive with care as the low overnight temperatures that lead to snow and ice in some areas will be repeated in the coming days.
A status yellow snow and ice warning remains in place for Ireland until Saturday afternoon, with showers of hail, sleet and snow forecast.
Large parts of the north west, west and south of the country were hit by snow last night - and those conditions are expected to hit the east of the country, and Dublin, later in the week.
This morning, a number of flights faced delays at Cork Airport after the first flurries of snow hit.
"Please allow extra time for all journeys to and from Cork Airport over the next few days," the airport said on social media.
AA Roadwatch have confirmed that many roads have begun to thaw this morning after reports of poor conditions and black ice.
"Continued care is needed in some areas, especially minor roads and higher grounds," a spokesperson said.
The Department of Education told Independent.ie that they are aware of a number of schools closing today, but that it is up to the school's discretion to decide on closures depending on the severity of the weather.
"The Department does not hold figures of schools that have closed as there is no onus on schools to report closures to the Department, these are at the discretion of the School Principal/Board of Management," a spokesperson said.
"The Department’s advice to schools is to remain vigilant in the event of adverse weather conditions. Schools should monitor weather forecasts in order to be prepared for any severe weather which may affect the school.
"The decision to close a school is to be taken at a local level by the individual School Principal/ Board of Management in the interests of child safety, having assessed the local risks and having consulted, as appropriate, with school transport operators."
Bus Eireann confirmed that a number of routes are affected today and apologised to customers.
"We wish to advise customers that a number of our services nationwide are currently being affected by adverse weather conditions. We are closely monitoring the situation and will update route specific information via Twitter," a spokesperson said.
"We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause our customers."
Met Éireann have warned that "bitterly cold" conditions are still on the way, with parts of Leinster getting snow later in the week.
Driver stopped using their mobile phone on a very icy road in Cork this morning. Conditions are already poor and with the added distraction of using a phone this could have been catastrophic.#BeSafe #ArriveAlive #Sneachta pic.twitter.com/6VOg3iweYq— An Garda Síochána (@GardaTraffic) January 30, 2019
As the five-day "status yellow" warning comes into effect, the country is facing temperatures as low as -7C.
Tonight will be "very cold" and frost will set in quickly after dark, "becoming severe, with fairly widespread ice".
Thursday will be very cold and frosty, with overnight temperatures between -2C and -5C.
"Large accumulations of snow are possible over mountainous areas of south Leinster and Munster," a forecaster said.
"The snow is likely to be heaviest over much of Munster and south Leinster, with some significant accumulations in places.
"But this band of weather will clear southwards later in the night and the fresh and gusty east to northeast winds will moderate also.
"Friday will be bitterly cold overnight, with a severe frost and icy conditions."
Some sunny weather is expected on Saturday morning, but the frost will return at night, Met Éireann said.
"There will be a widespread severe frost overnight, with icy roads and some freezing fog can be expected also."
Parts of the country woke up to the first sightings of snow yesterday morning, including Westport in Co Mayo and the Wicklow mountains.
AA Roadwatch reported snow lying on a number of roads across the country this morning, including Midleton, Carrick-on-Shannon, Manorhamilton, Sligo Town and Letterkenny.
"Slippery conditions have also been reported around Longford Town, Roscommon Town, Tullamore, Mullingar, Cavan Town, Cork City, Limerick City, Galway City, Portlaoise and Thurles," a spokesperson said earlier today.
"Frost and ice are likely on secondary routes and on high ground in particular.
"Remember it takes up to ten times longer to stop on an icy road. In affected areas, slow down, keep further back from the vehicle in front and keep all manoeuvres gentle."
The status yellow weather warning will remain in place until Saturday.
While the wintry showers were previously described as isolated, "serious" snowfall can be expected today and Thursday, according to Met Éireann forecaster John Eagleton.
"The big threat of snow this week is on Wednesday night and during Thursday, as the winds turn easterly in direction and as the pressure to the south of Ireland injects moisture to those easterly winds," he said.
"Once that threat passes, it will remain cold and frosty for Friday and the weekend, and then temperatures will start to creep up again at the start of next week.
There is still uncertainty for next week, but current indications show a changeable and unsettled week with some spells of rain at times. Temperatures will be normal by day, but cool at night, with some frost in places.