Thursday 16 August 2018

Storm Emma: Department of Education 'monitoring' situation as Ireland braces for 'exceptional weather event'

  • Ireland set to be hit with Arctic weather front and Storm Emma
  • Plans in place for widespread school closures
  • 'Strong chance' flights out of Dublin Airport will be affected
A woman walks along a snow covered path in Norwich, following heavy overnight snowfall which has caused disruption across Britain. Photo credit should read: Joe Giddens/PA Wire
A woman walks along a snow covered path in Norwich, following heavy overnight snowfall which has caused disruption across Britain. Photo credit should read: Joe Giddens/PA Wire
Stock image (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

The National Emergency Co-ordination Group (NECG) is to decide whether schools will be closed as 'Storm Emma' hits Ireland.

Chairman of the NECG Sean Hogan said all the signs from weather experts is that Storm Emma will hit on Thursday.

He said householders should be braced for an “exceptional event” but every effort will be made “to keep the country moving”.

Met Eireann’s Evelyn Cusack said temperatures last night dropped as low as minus 5 in parts but there was “no apparent frost because it’s extremely dry air”.

She said it will be tomorrow afternoon before Met Eireann will be able to decide whether the existing Status Orange weather alert should be upgrade to Red.

The snow showers will be further complicated by gale force winds of up to 110km/h, which will create blizzard-like conditions.

Ms Cusack said there could be “significant” snow on the ground and the situation “hangs in the balance” as to whether it will thaw before next week.

“There will be some very challenging weather over the weekend,” she said.

'Beast from the East': Watch LIVE and track the predicted path of Storm Emma across Ireland See the latest weather updates on Independent.ie: http://indo.ie/9AQC30iDJBp

Posted by Independent.ie on Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Since Met Eireann introduced a colour coded system for weather alerts in 2013 there have been six red notices. However, this would be the first one for what Ms Cusack described as a “snow event”.

“It is very exceptional. It’s not normal,” she said.

The Department of Education have said today that they will continue to monitor the situation ahead of what Met Eireann describe as 'significant snowfall'.

Mr Hogan said that some direction may be given to employers in the coming days as to whether they should close their businesses – but this is not yet clear.

Little girl enjoying the snow Photo: Deposit
Little girl enjoying the snow Photo: Deposit

“It’s not a simple matter,” he said, adding that essential services would have to stay in operation.

Defence Forces are on standby to help with 4x4 vehicles and the Air Corp will be called in for flyovers of certain areas if there are extensive power outages or road damage.

“We are dealing with probabilities here rather than definites,” Mr Hogan said.

Asked whether householders should leave taps running in order to stop pipes from freezing, Mr Hogan said this was not advised.

“Do not run the taps,” he said, adding that this could run down supplies in the reservoirs.

Weather warning

Met Éireann is poised to issue a Status Red warning over the Arctic weather front nicknamed the ‘Beast from the East’ amid concerns it could escalate to pose a threat to life.

Emergency plans are being put in place for widespread schools closures on Thursday and Friday after school transport chiefs were warned heavy snow could lead to all services being suspended.

The move would result in 116,000 children not being able to make it to school and this would have a “domino effect”, forcing schools to close and parents to stay home from work.

It is likely that crèches and other childcare facilities would also close. “If it goes to a ‘Status Red’ situation on Thursday then all school transport will stop,” said a source.

They added that, if this happened, it’d be very likely that most or all of the schools in the country would close.

Dublin Airport is also preparing for heavy snow and likely closures. Government sources told the Irish Independent there was a “strong chance” that all flights out of Dublin would have to be grounded at some point.

“The level of snow predicted is well above what it would normally take to ground flights,” the source said.

The airport will have more than 100 machines dedicated to de-icing and clearing snow.

Today's forecast

The first impact of the so-called 'Beast from the East' will be felt today, with snow forecast for the east of the country today.

Forecaster Evelyn Cusack told Newstalk Breakfast counties in the east and south will be a "blanket of snow" by Thursday.

"Thursday will be the worst day, and it's not going to be a nice weekend either. I don't want to discount the showers tonight and tomorrow. We're worried about the winds, and there is also the possibility of thunder and lightning with Storm Emma.

"Overall, the west and northwest will fair best. The east and south, they will more than likely be a blanket of snow by Thursday."

The latest forecast from Met Eireann says the country will wake up to a frosty start today, with scattered showers of snow beginning along the east coast.

The rest of the country will wake up to a bright start but as the day progresses cloud will become widespread and it will bring wintry showers across the country.

Afternoon temperatures will be low, ranging from 3C to 6C and the wind will make it feel even colder.

However, it will be later in the day that the real signs of what is to come will be felt.

'Storm Emma' will come into effect at 3pm on Tuesday and remain in place until 11am on Wednesday.

Snow showers will become more frequent across the east later in the day and tonight will see temperatures plunge to between -2C and -6C, with severe frost, icy patches and snow accumulations as wintry showers are felt across all parts but especially on the eastern seaboard.

Met Éireann is expecting the snowfall this evening and overnight will lead to an accumulation of between 4cm and 6cm by Wednesday morning.

However, the eastern part of the country could see up to 50cm of snow on Thursday and Friday.

A Status Yellow warning is in place for Kilkenny, Longford, Wexford, Offaly, Westmeath, Cork, Tipperary and Waterford from 6.00pm Tuesday to 11.00am on Wednesday.

A Status Yellow weather advisory for the whole country has also been extended and is in place until March 3 at 6.00pm.

Services

Delivery services on Friday could be severely disrupted due to dangerous road conditions, meaning stores will be unable to replenish their shelves.

One of Ireland’s largest supermarket chains Tesco Ireland was bringing in extra deliveries overnight as consumers flocked to grocery stores to stock up on food. To ensure that there is enough supply to meet demand, the retailer said it was working overnight to ensure the shelves will be fully stocked today.

The retailer said it was working “with our bread suppliers to ensure 20pc more availability of fresh bread” and increasing the number of deliveries of dairy produce.

Consultations are to take place with mobile phone operators today amid fears that services will be negatively affected by blizzard-like conditions.

A source said “assurances” were needed that the network could withstand heavy snowfall and Arctic winds. If mobile coverage was to collapse, it would present a serious risk, particularly for older people and those living in isolated areas.

Defence Forces teams will be on standby to support the emergency services.

The Health Service Executive has asked the Irish Red Cross to specify its available resources of ambulances and off-road vehicles. The Irish Coastguard and Air Corps will be on standby for any medical cases in areas which are inaccessible due to ice and snow.

The front, being driven over Ireland from the frigid north of Scandinavia and Russia, will also see large snow falls, potentially of more than 10cm – and drifts up to a metre deep.

The worst of the weather is expected from late tomorrow night – though temperatures already plunged to -5C overnight.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar urged people to follow safety advice. “I would ask people to pay very close attention to any weather warnings and advice that is issued in the coming days. We will either be asking people to stay at home and not to make unnecessary journeys or, if they are in work already, to stay in work and not to make unnecessary journeys.”

Heavy snow falls are predicted on Thursday and Friday – with commuters warned to expect major disruptions.

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 contact@independent.ie or Whatsapp to 0871847169

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