No let-up in icy grip as 'cold regime' takes hold
WINTER is holding the country in an icy grip, with bitterly cold weather forecast for the weekend stretching into the coming week.
Snow and sleet are expected to fall in many parts and Met Eireann issued a severe weather warning, saying the country was facing a "cold regime", with motorists warned to be particularly careful.
Tonight's temperatures are expected to plunge to as low as -7C in Ulster, staying at around 0C to -3C in most other parts.
And last night there was heavy flooding in Arklow and Wicklow towns due to rain over the previous 36 hours.
The main routes in and out of Wicklow town were impassable due to surface water, while much of Arklow was heavily flooded with the main street, the south quays and the main routes, including the Dublin and Wexford roads, being impassable last night.
A number of roads in Arklow town were completely impassable, while householders and businesses used sandbags to protect their properties.
"Everywhere is heavily flooded," Arklow gardai told the Irish Independent last night.
The flooding led to huge tailbacks in the town and numerous single-vehicle accidents as motorists slid off the road.
Meanwhile, Ulster bore the brunt of snow blizzards and high winds last night and there were warnings that snow or sleet could also fall along the east coast.
Several flights in and out of Ireland were cancelled, due mostly to snowfalls in the UK.
The Road Safety Authority reminded road users to remain extra vigilant, to watch out for black ice and to check their local weather forecast before making any journeys. The weather today will be better, with no heavy rainfall expected, though it will be very cold with ground frost and the risk of freezing fog and icy patches.
The north and east of the country will be most at risk of snow flurries, though they should be fairly light.
However, the night will be "very, very cold" according to Met Eireann forecaster Pat Clarke, who said temperatures will plunge below freezing in most parts.
Tomorrow the frost will be slow to clear but the weather will be bright and mostly dry.
Mr Clarke said the next concern for forecasters is a weather front that will travel up from the south west tomorrow afternoon that could bring further snowfalls, initially in Kerry and Cork.
He said it could lead to "tricky situations" overnight and early Monday. "We're facing into a cold regime," he said.
DART and commuter train services were hit due to flooding at Sandycove in south Dublin. There was also heavy flooding in Co Wicklow, with a number of key roads made impassable.
The north west was spared any significant snow, with most confined to the hills of Sligo and Leitrim. Donegal was severely hit and the county council has fitted snow ploughs to more than 20 vehicles in case snow falls at lower levels over the weekend.
Torrential overnight rainfall left roads in parts of north and west Cork flooded.
Worst hit were smaller rivers in north Cork and west Cork that were unable to take the water flow. Roads around Glanworth and Ballyhooly in north Cork were left impassable due to flooding, while in west Cork the worst floods hit minor roads near Clonakilty, Dunmanway and Skibbereen.
Hundreds of acres of farmland in the Lee, Blackwater and Funcheon river valleys remain under water.
The south west was bathed in winter sunshine with temperatures hitting seven degrees. The cool dry conditions are set to remain for much of the weekend.
Extra caution was required by motorists on approach roads to Limerick city yesterday morning following heavy overnight rain.
Flooding on country roads in the Ballyneety area of Limerick and in Ardnacrusha, Co Clare, resulted in slow traffic but no incidents were reported.
The west escaped the worst of the bad weather, although Met Eireann is forecasting a steady drop in temperatures over the weekend.
Temperatures will drop to just 1C in Galway tomorrow while it will be 0C in Mayo.