Status red weather warning: More than 2,200 homes without power
* Met Eireann issues 'Status Red' national weather warning
* 130km/h winds to hit, and wintry showers to continue
* Several train routes suspended due to frozen points
* Motorists warned to be careful in icy road conditions
Over 2,200 homes are without power tonight in the south and southwest of the country.
ESB staff have been mobilised to try and rectify the power outages.
Schools and colleges in areas worst affected by the current severe weather have been told that they can close tomorrow.
The Department of Education today issued advice in light of severe and potentially damaging winds which are affecting parts of the country.
Schools and colleges have been cleared not to open if a Status Red weather warning has been issued for their area.
Currently, a Status Red warning is in place for exposed coastal and mountainous areas in Donegal, Sligo, Mayo, Galway, Leitrim, Clare, Limerick, Cork, and Kerry until noon tomorrow.
Wind gusts of 130 to 150km/h are possible as well as high seas.
In a statement today, the department said schools should consider not opening if a Status Red wind warning has been forecast for the locality. High winds could coincide with periods when students and staff travel to and from school.
Full guidance is available on the department's website
ESB has reported faults in the Roscommon and Knockcroghery areas of Roscommon.
Lamp post blown down at waterside Waterford closed until ESB can turn off the live feed. V bad driving conditions pic.twitter.com/Nrf6ulPOTa— An Garda Síochána (@GardaTraffic) January 14, 2015
Faults have also been reported in the Enniscorthy and Monglass areas of Wexford. Crews are en route to fix the problem.
The National Coordination Group on Severe Weather has asked the public to monitor forecasts, be aware of weather conditions, and heed safety warnings.
Frost &ice at first. Sleet/snow shwrs in W &N, some thundery. Shwrs dying out, but wet & v windy conditions spreading in aft &eve. Max 7-11C— Met Éireann (@MetEireann) January 14, 2015
Drivers are encouraged to monitor road conditions as well as transport operator services over national and local radio/tv, websites and social media for possible impacts.
Met Eireann's website provides updated information.
An orange wind warning remains in place for Leinster, Cavan, Monaghan, Roscommon, Tipperary and Waterford with winds expected to reach speeds of 90km/h up to 130km/h, especially in exposed areas.
Connacht, Donegal, Clare, Cork, Kerry and Limerick can expect rainfall of between 25mm and 35mm, with a yellow warning in place for these areas.
A spokesman for Cork Airport said Aer Lingus flights EI 724/725 to and from Heathrow Airport have been cancelled due to poor weather expected in both Cork and Heathrow.
Cork Airport had a gust of about 146 kilometres per hour this evening.
A Ryanair flight from Liverpool was also diverted to Shannon Airport due to gusty conditions.
UPDATES FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY
South Dublin County Council says its gritting crews will be out at 5am tomorrow morning on higher ground. The council urged drivers to watch out for frost or icy patches.
In Kildare, there is a tree down on the Maynooth/ Prosperous Rd (R408) at Lady Chapel, while the Naas/ Ballymore Eustace Rd is completely blocked at Watch House Cross for the same reason. There is also a tree blocking the Naas/ Mondello Rd (R409) at Caragh.
Due to a mechanical issue, the 17.05 Connolly to Sligo & 17.15 Connolly to Longford will be delayed by approximately 20 minutes. Apologies.— Iarnród Éireann (@IrishRail) January 14, 2015
In Sligo, the N4 Dublin/ Sligo Rd is flooded between Castlebaldwin and Drumfin Cross. There is also flooding on the N59 Ballina/ Ballysadare Rd between Skreen and Aughris.
In Roscommon, there is a tree down on the N61 Boyle/ Roscommon Rd near Tulsk, and bad flooding has been reported on the Boyle/ Frenchpark Rd (R361).
In Leitrim, surface water has been reported on the N4 Sligo/ Dublin Rd around Carrick-on-Shannon. Gardai say there is surface water on roads around Ballinamore also.
Snow in Roscommon..if driving remember to slow down,turn on your lights,and stay a safe distance from car in front pic.twitter.com/CR3Sckkyn0— An Garda Síochána (@GardaTraffic) January 13, 2015
There is a fallen tree on the Balllinamore/ Killashandra Rd (R199) at Newtowngore.
Galway County Council is advising that there is the potential for some localised flooding around the city this evening.
In Clare, there is flooding on the Ennis/ Crusheen Rd (Old N18) near Crusheen, and on the Ennis/ Lahinch Rd N85 at Kilnamona.
In Kerry, there is a fallen tree blocking the Tralee/ Fenit Rd (R558) at Knockanish, and also near Caragh Lake School. Flooding has been reported on the Ardfert Rd (R551) outside Tralee.
In Cork, strong cross winds are affecting motorists on the M8 Cork/ Dublin Rd between J14 Fermoy North and J15 Fermoy South.
The Blarney Road is closed in Clogheen at Hollyhill junction at Saggott Hill Junction and at Curraghkipane due to a fallen pole blocking the road.
The Inniscarra Rd (R618) is closed between Anglers Rest and Inniscarra due to fallen trees and power lines.
In Cork city, surface water has been reported on the Sarsfield Road by the hospital.
In Wicklow, roads around the Sally Gap and Wicklow Gap are still icy, AA Roadwatch.
ESB have issued a statement stating the "safety of the public is our highest priority".
"Customers should NEVER approach or touch fallen or low-hanging wires and powerlines. Please ring 1850 372 999 to report these, keep others away from them and also alert the Gardaí/Emergency Services."
The electricity supplier said that its website, Twitter, Powercheck App and local outlets will be kept up-to-date with current information on expected restoration times as the situation evolves and becomes clear - in the event of damage due to the high winds.
Earlier today, the country's train users experienced delays of up to two hours today following snowfall overnight.
There were no trains departing from Heuston Station, Dublin this morning for up to an hour, and all services leaving the station are experiencing severe delays.
There are also currently delays of up to one hour to services operating into the station.
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The train delays were due to a mechanical fault which occurred on the 6am train from Cork to Dublin at Newbridge. It is not known if the fault was a result of the bad weather overnight. The train was delayed by two hours.
Furthermore, there were 90-minute delays on the Westport/Galway services due to frozen points on the track and heavy snowfall.
Services have reopened between Athenry and Ennis UFN, Irish Rail reports.
Irish Rail is communicating to passengers through their official Twitter account with the latest travel updates.
The snow and ice will give way to stormy conditions today, with gusts of up to 130kmh to batter the country from the Atlantic.
And while most of the country will feel the brunt of the storm-force winds, exposed coasts in the west and north of the country will be worst hit.
Wind warnings are in place for Dublin, Carlow, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, Longford, Louth, Wicklow, Offaly, Westmeath, Meath, Cavan, Monaghan, Roscommon and Tipperary.
There is also a heavy rain warning for the west coast for much of today.
However, while today's weather will be dominated by Storm Rachel, we have not seen the end to the wintry showers that carpeted some parts of the country in snow yesterday.
Met Eireann's Jim O'Brien said while the winds would ease for a time tonight, temperatures would plunge as low as -2C.
This will lead to treacherous driving conditions, especially on higher ground where the showers are likely to be of sleet and hail.
Road users are being warned to take extreme care on the roads this morning as five weather warnings remain in place nationwide.
Conditions around Ballyshannon, Donegal have been described as 'treacherous' by AA Roadwatch this morning.
Furthermore, the main road between Donegal and Tyrone is partially blocked with snow.
Roads around Fermoy, Cork are particularly snowy and icy and road users are also being advised to take care in areas Nenagh, Roscrea and Thurles in Tipperary.
Roads in Mullingar, Westmeath and Wicklow town are also being described as dangerous this morning.
Dozens of schools were closed today as main roads were blocked after heavy overnight snow.
Gardai warned that the main route between Letterkenny and Gweedore in Donegal was impassable.
Most secondary and primary schools in east, north and west Donegal were closed today.
Every school in the county's main town of Letterkenny was on the closed list with all bus services cancelled.
Up to 8cms of snow fell overnight in Donegal.
Gardai dealt with a number of minor road traffic accidents overnight. There were no reports of any serious injuries.
Wintry showers are expected every day for the rest of the week.
"The weekend will be bright with sunny spells and scattered wintry showers and the day time temperatures on Saturday will be between 3C and 5C," said Mr O'Brien.
Snow showers continued into the night last night, with Dublin seeing its first flurries of the winter.
But earlier snow falls had already caused disruption in parts of the south, west and north-west, where there was deep snow on the N15 Donegal to Sligo route.
Poor conditions were reported on the N22 Killarney to Cork road due to heavy snowfall.
Main roads were passable with care, but there were a series of traffic incidents on untreated minor roads.
The Coast Guard's Sligo 118 helicopter was forced to take emergency supplies to residents of Tory Island, 12km off the coast of Donegal. The ferry which takes passengers and supplies to and from the island has been unable to travel because of high seas.
The helicopter also transported three islanders who had been on the mainland for the past week.
They included the King of Tory Island, Patsy Dan Rodgers. "We are just grateful to the coastguard in helping us return to our island and who transported these food supplies," he said.
"By the looks of it the weather is going to remain very bad for the coming days and this food is vital for the people on the island." Ten people who were stranded on the island were transported off to allow them to return to college and attend hospital appointments.
Among the supplies taken out to the island were 10 boxes of bread, 300 litres of milk, 27 boxes of potatoes, 14 boxes of meat and vegetables, and two bags of post.
Kerry County Council began treating major roads at around 4pm yesterday following the status orange warning for snow and ice with wintry and thundery showers of hail, sleet and snow expected overnight.
Clare County Council also issued a weather warning that the severe storm will hit at around midday.
It said this will prevail until mid-morning on Thursday, incorporating periods of significant rainfall as well as wind gusts of up to 130km an hour.
"While the entire county will be affected, the most extreme impacts are likely to be along the coastline," a council spokesman said.
"The advice is not to venture out or to drive on exposed roads while these conditions prevail."