'Status Red shutdown': Contingency plans put in place for emergency services
- 'This is like Ophelia': Parts of the country to go into full shut-down mode tomorrow
- In Leinster and Munster people should plan to be at home from tomorrow at 4pm until noon on Friday
- 'It would be suicidal to drive in blizzard conditions' - people urged to stay indoors and told not to drive
- 'This is like Ophelia' - Sean Hogan chairman of the National Emergency Co-ordination group
- Schools closed in areas affected by red alert
- Further disruptive heavy snow showers expected overnight with 'significant accumulations'
- Public transport disrupted
- Army deployed in several areas
- Blizzard conditions not seen in Ireland since 1982
Contingency plans are being put in place for some emergency services over the next 48 hours, and the Defence Forces will be called in to deal with the most severe incidents.
Independent.ie has confirmed through senior sources that some emergency services will not be able to operate for periods on Thursday and Friday at the height of the blizzard.
The Defence Forces and Coast Guard are being called in to deal with the most severe incidents.
"The National Ambulance Service will still be responding to 911 and 112 calls and offer the best assistance they can," the HSE said.
'Beast from the East': Watch LIVE and track the predicted path of Storm Emma across Ireland
Storm Emma: Some communities may be cut off 'for days' as emergency services battle major snow falls
Storm Emma: Some communities may be cut off 'for days' as emergency services battle major snow falls For weather updates click here: http://indo.ie/eSH630iIwDxPosted by Independent.ie on Friday, March 2, 2018
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"The Defence Forces will provide assistance, but the national ambulance service will continue to respond to calls."
Dublin Fire Brigade confirmed it is maintaining full emergency services during extreme weather and said people should not hesitate to call in an emergency situation.
Snow showers will cont. this afternoon, most frequent over the east, north midlands & on south coasts w/ further accumulations. Near west coast the snow showers will be more isolated. It will be feel very cold with temps remaining around freezing in fresh & gusty easterly winds. pic.twitter.com/KHsPTLawgv— Met Éireann (@MetEireann) February 28, 2018
“Any member of the public who may require the assistance of the DFB Fire Based Emergency Medical Service should not hesitate in calling it," a spokesperson said.
People across Munster and Leinster are told they must stay behind closed doors from 4pm tomorrow - and if they venture outside after this time, they are putting their lives at risk.
"Emergencies will be dealt with depending on severity. People need to be sensible about any call-outs they make," a source said.
It is understood that local authorities will be unable to grit roads for a matter of hours during the worst of the blizzard, meaning normal emergency services will not be able to travel.
The HSE is working on plans but are expected to advise the public to stay away from emergency departments unless totally necessary.
Beaumont Hospital has confirmed that all out-patient appointments are cancelled for Thursday and Friday.
Army 4x4 trucks are on standby for road dispatches while the Coast Guard have been asked to keep their helicopters available.
The Defence Forces have already deployed 60 Army personnel and 16 vehicles today in a range of tasks to support the local authorities.
Hospitals have already cancelled appointments and are effectively entering into a four day weekend.
One source noted that the coming week will be extremely difficult for the health service.
After the storm passes it’s expected that A&E departments will be busy with people who suffered fractures or other weather related injuries.
The cold weather is also known to leave older people at higher risk of cardiovascular and respiratory illness.
Being cold also pushes up blood pressure which may trigger heart attacks and strokes.
Sean Hogan, the chief of the National Emergency Co-Ordination Group (NECG), issued the extraordinary warning for people to stay indoors as the country battens down for the arrival of Storm Emma tomorrow.
In a briefing to media, Mr Hogan said Leinster and Munster will be in full shut down mode.
And he warned those going out earlier tomorrow their plans should ensure they are safely indoors by 4pm.
He also warned that lives will be put in danger if people venture outside.
"If you get driving wind and snow, you may get disoriented and lost very quickly," he said.
"It would be suicidal to go driving in blizzard like conditions, do not be out there from 4pm. This is like Ophelia."
The public are advised to stay indoors from 4pm tomorrow until midday on Friday, when the Status Red alert issued by Met Éireann is in place.
Temperatures are expected to plunge to minus seven degrees, during late afternoon tomorrow, coupled with gale force winds of up to 110km/hr will results in blizzard conditions with practically zero visibility.
Met Éireann issued an updated weather warning at 5pm this evening, advising people that further heavy snow showers will fall overnight tonight with 'significant accumulations' of snow. The warnings affects Dublin, Kildare, Louth, Wicklow and Meath.
The Defence Forces have been deployed eight times already today in Kilkenny, Cork, Wexford, Kildare and Waterford.
They transported patients to healthcare facilities, provided meals on wheels, kept access to infrastructure open and transported medical staff to work
Dublin Bus are ceasing operations at 7pm this evening and will not be in operation tomorrow (Thursday). They will review the situation for Friday.
Irish Rail will operate services in the morning, but will begin to wind down operations in Munster and Leinster between 2pm and 4pm.
Luas will run limited services until lunchtime tomorrow. Most private bus operators have indicated they will not be operating.
The situation at airports will be kept under review.
"The key point is that in light of that, if people have to travel, people need to consider how they will get home safely by 4pm in Munster and Leinster," Sean Hogan added.
All schools and third level education institutions will be shut in Munster and Leinster tomorrow.
Schools in Ulster and Connacht may decide on closures on a case by case basis.
Galway Mayo IT has announced that its Letterfrack campus is closing at 3pm today, as driving conditions are "treacherous on secondary rural roads".
Its two Galway city campuses and the Mountbellew and Mayo campuses are operating as normal today, and plan to open tomorrow, but it is keeping the situation under review.
Employers have been urged to consider if they must remain open, being conscious of the need that staff get home by 4pm.
Employers need to start making individuals assessment as to whether they should close ahead of a "severe weather event", Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said.
Mr Varadkar said: "We're facing a severe weather event. We know that the worst is yet to come."
He has instructed the NECG to provide "as much clarity as possible for people in the days and hours ahead".
But on the issue of businesses closing, Mr Varadkar said it would not be appropriate to issue a "blanket instruction".
"Each employer should make an individual assessment. All workplaces are different," he said.
The Taoiseach urged companies to factor in their location and whether it is possible for their staff to work from home.
Mr Varadkar said there is "no legal obligation employers to pay staff who don't make it into work".
But he asked employers "to be sensible and reasonable where an employee can't make work or is told not to come in".
Forecasters have warned that Ireland has not experienced blizzard conditions of this nature since 1982 and in light of this people are urged to stay indoors.
"There has to be a balance," he said, adding that companies would suffer revenue loss as a result of the weather.
"We've already been affected by significant snow falls," he said, adding that the full "machinery of the State" will be used to keep the country moving.
But Mr Varadkar urged people in areas affected by the Status Red weather alert not to make unnecessary journeys.
The weather is set to continue to deteriorate over the coming days as the so-called 'Beast from the East' settles in and an incoming storm system, named Storm Emma, brings a second snow event on Thursday.
Gardaí are advising motorists and all road users to exercise caution on the roads.
"Leave sufficient room between you and the car in front and drive within a speed where you can stop in time," gardaí said in a statement.
An additional fuel allowance for recipients has been announced by the Government.
Those in receipt of the payment will see their payment doubled to €45 for this week.
The ESB is warning of prolonged power outages as temperatures plummet to as low as -7C and there may also be thunder and lightning.
However, the utility has has given a commitment not to disconnect any homes from their power supply during the cold weather.
Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty said officials help talks with the companies about households who may be facing arrears.
She confirmed ESB has undertaken not to intervene until Storm Emma passes.
- Read more: Ulster Bank closes bank branches as a result of Storm Emma
- Read more: Storm Emma: Will I get paid if I can't get to work? What are my employee rights on a snow day?
Keep safe and warm, but if you are out in Storm Emma we'd love to see your photos and videos. Send by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or Whatsapp to 0871847169
A red weather warning has only been issued on six occasions since the system was introduced in 2013 – and only for rainstorms, never for snow.
“It is very exceptional. It’s not normal,” Met Éireann forecaster Evelyn Cusack said.
Snow is expected to fall throughout today to “potentially disruptive levels”, particularly across the east, although all areas will be at risk.
Then Storm Emma will connect with the ‘Beast from the East’ from late afternoon tomorrow, meaning conditions worsen. This will first hit in Cork, Waterford and Wexford, before spreading across most parts of the country.
“What’s happening is the cold polar easterly air will produce some showers (of snow),” Ms Cusack said. “As Emma moves in, it’s going to clash with the cold polar air and that’s producing the continuous snow we’re forecasting for Thursday and Friday accompanied by strong to gale force easterly winds. We’re taking about maybe 100 or 110kmh (winds), affecting chiefly easterly and southern areas, and there’s high tides as well.”
She said the snow was expected to be “pretty significant”, and sub-zero temperatures were likely to remain in place over the weekend.
While the maximum daytime temperatures would be 1C, with wind chill it would “feel like -5C”, she added.
All court services in counties affected by the weather warning have been suspended until Monday.
- Read more: Extra fuel allowance payment will be made as weather takes a turn for the worst
- Read more: Snow shutdown: Closed schools 'may have to make up the days' at Easter or another time
All information around affected services is available at www.gov.ie