Snow-ice warning: Morning commuters put on alert amid plunging temperatures and torrential rain
'We could have issued five warnings'
Motorists are being urged to exercise extreme caution on the roads this morning, after torrential rain and gale-force winds were expected to sweep across the country overnight.
Temperatures were once again set to plummet, leaving a risk of frost, snow and ice.
Met Éireann issued two Status Yellow warnings for today, including a snow and ice warning for the entire country in effect from 3am until 10am.
The warning reads; "Air temperatures will fall to freezing or below later tonight and early tomorrow morning, with widespread frost and ice on untreated surfaces.
"Scattered wintry showers also, these mainly in west Ulster, Connacht and west Munster."
Sub-zero temperatures overnight and early this morning were expected to generate widespread frost and ice on untreated surfaces.
Overnight rain clearing the East coast with scattered wintry showers following but mainly affecting the western half of the country. pic.twitter.com/KOIBAxH8zO— Met Éireann (@MetEireann) February 13, 2018
Scattered wintry showers following behind a fast-moving system overnight were also expected to dust some areas with snow this morning, mostly in west Ulster, Connacht and west Munster, as well as on higher ground.
Met Éireann also issued a Status Yellow nationwide weather advisory that was in effect from 6pm last night to 6am today.
"We could have issued five warnings," Met Éireann forecaster Liz Walsh said of the mixed bag of strong southerly winds, thunder, and heavy downpours of rain that could lead to spot flooding, along with snow and ice expected overnight.
Winds of 90kmh were already lashing the west coast by early evening yesterday, and could reach gusts of 110kmh as the system sweeps across the country from the Atlantic, she said. "It's quite an Arctic band, with strong wind and rain that could turn sleety. We're not expecting any accumulations of snow except on high ground, but it is quite hit and miss," she told the Irish Independent.
The system is expected to peter out by dawn, she said.
But not before thunderstorms were expected to hit the west and south coasts with counties Cork, Kerry, Waterford and Galway most likely to be affected.
However, the good news was that bright and dry weather would follow later today, she said.
Although there is still a risk of scattered wintry showers occurring mostly over the western half of the country this morning and into early afternoon, they are expected to largely die out.
Today will be mostly dry and bright with sunny spells, although it will be cold, with highs of just 3C to 6C with moderate west to south-west breezes.
The clear skies will remain into this evening and the early part of the night, allowing frost to develop as temperatures hover around the freezing mark.
However, the frost will dissipate as cloud moves in from the west, followed by rain and drizzle, and rising temperatures overnight.
Strong southerly winds will persist, especially along coasts which can expect gale-force winds for a time.
Tomorrow will get off to a wet and windy start but rain will soon clear, leaving some sunny spells, moderate winds and warmer temperatures rising to between 6C or 7C in the north and up to 10C in the south during the day.
Meanwhile, one of the country's busiest stretch of motorways is closed in both directions following two separate collisions.
Gardaí have closed the M8 southbound and northbound at Junction 11 at Cahir South, Tipperary.
The closure follows two collisions which occurred shortly after 6.30am this morning, one in the northbound carriage and the other in the southbound carriage.
Emergency services are now at the scene.
Gardaí confirmed to Independent.ie that there was material damage reported at the scene, but no serious injuries.
"The Fire Brigade are currently dealing with the incident and have closed the road for safety of personnel at the scene," a spokesperson said.
"There was a snow shower and this then froze, which resulted in black ice."
Southbound motorists are being asked to divert at Junction 10, while northbound motorists are diverting at Junction 11.
Gardaí are urging road users to slow down in the area.
Meanwhile, AA Roadwatch are also reporting slushy conditions in Kildare and Offaly.
Parts of the M7 between J8 Johnstown to J10 Naas South and further south between J21 Borris In Ossory and J23 Moneygall are all reported as being areas of note.
AA Roadwatch added; "Care advised as there has already been a number of incidents."
In Cork, snowy conditions on the N20 between Mallow and Cork City is causing the route to be busier than usual.
There are also icy conditions on secondary routes around Midleton. In Clonakilty, there is snow on secondary routes.