Storm Emma latest: Blizzard conditions 'have passed' and public advice to shelter indoors is withdrawn
- Safety advice to remain indoors withdrawn
- Thousands without power
- Up to a metre of snow fell on Thursday
- Flooding now a real threat
- Status Red alert remains for much of the country until 6pm
- Major transport disruption as public systems remain closed
- People stuck in cars overnight - gardaí
THE public safety notice for people around the country to stay indoors has been withdrawn this morning as blizzard conditions associated with Storm Emma have now passed.
However, a Status Red alert will remain in place in Leinster, Munster and Galway until 6pm today, and the National Emergency Coordination Group (NECG) has warned that conditions will remain "difficult".
For the rest of the country a Status Orange warning is in place with heavy snow showers and icy conditions expected.
However, the safety advice to stay indoors has been withdrawn - which will be a major help in getting the country back moving, and a decision that is likely to be widely welcomed by children around the country.
Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy has urged people to exercise caution however, due to ongoing difficult conditions., and the overall advice remains to avoid unnecessary travel.
The red warning will remain in place for snow and ice with strong easterly winds for Munster Leinster and Galway.
"The blizzard conditions have passed but there is still heavy snow and strong winds, but it's not in the blizzard-style conditions that we had last night so we have withdrawn the advice that people need to shelter indoors," Sean Hogan of the NECG told Morning Ireland.
"That was based on public safety but people still need to keep off the roads this morning. The only people on the roads today should be the transport and infrastructure people and the council who are out gritting the roads."
"Last night emergency crews had to go out and rescue people in their cars," he added.
"We don't want to have to divert our resources into that today. We want to be able to use our resources to clear the roads. If people go back on the roads prematurely, that will delay restoration further.
Mr Hogan said that up to 60cm of snow fell in some parts of the country and that flooding is possible.
Despite the lifting of the advice to stay indoors, it is unlikely that the public transport system will get back on track before tomorrow.
Irish Rail services has already confirmed that its services will not run today despite the updated safety advice. National and regional bus, light rail and train services all said on Thursday that they would not run on Friday.
Gardaí are urging motorists to remain off the road unless absolutely necessary and said many cars are abandoned on roads due to snow.
Gardaí urge motorists to remain off roads unless absolutely necessary. Large amounts of snow on many roads and conditions vary significantly. Cars abandoned on many roads due to snow. pic.twitter.com/8TMpBQOCtP— An Garda Síochána (@GardaTraffic) March 2, 2018
Up to one metre of snow is predicted for some areas, and much of the country experienced extreme weather conditions overnight - with many dealing with the fallout this morning.
Almost 24,000 homes and businesses are without power following the storm - with many facing a blackout until 8pm this evening.
There are 190 faults on the network, including ten major faults. Many of these are concentrated in the east and north east but homes in Donegal and other parts of the country are also without power.
Derek Hynes, operations manager with ESB Networks, said crews will have difficulty accessing regional areas to restore power.
"For those who don't have electricity it's going to be a difficult day, we really sympathise and we are sorry for that," he said.
#HaveYourSay: Storm Emma: Are you working today?
He urged anyone who is without power to make contact with the utility.
Meanwhile, in Galway around 5,000 customers are without water.
Gerry Murphy of Met Éireann said snow of up to 12cm was recorded at stations around the country - which is in line with the Status Red alert guidelines.
Overnight Storm Emma brought significant snowfall and Met Eireann was at pains to advise that it is not yet over.
"As expected [the storm] moved up across country and brought and is continue to bring strong easterly winds," Mr Murphy told RTE's Morning Ireland.
"As well as that as it met the cold air it brought snow up over parts of Leinster and Ulster."
Sub-zero temperatures were recorded right across the country overnight and will continue in some areas throughout the day.
"There will be continuation of that snowfall as we go through the day. Leinster and Munster will continue get the bulk of that snow," Mr Murphy said.
"The winds will continue quite strong along the coast," Mr Murphy said.
Dublin Fire Brigade (DFB) reported a very busy night as crews worked to respond emergency calls during the storm.
Mobilisation Officer David Kavanagh told Morning Ireland it was a very busy night for the service - with ambulance crews forced to dig themselves out after getting stuck in snow at times.
Ambulance crews had some difficulty navigating areas with heavy snow fall.
Officers responded to a number of fires overnight with some caused by fallen electricity cables.
Blackouts in the city compounded the busy night for the service as a number of stations lost power.
As blizzard-like conditions took hold in the country many people spent the night stuck in their cars.
Gardaí said that there are instances of people stuck in their car in several areas around Dublin and have urged anyone who is stuck to stay in their vehicles and stay warm while they wait for help.
DFB also had to help a number of motorists who were stuck in their cars.
Flights at Dublin Airport are currently suspended on Saturday, while public transport remains off-line.
So this is what a ‘Red Alert for heavy snowfall’ actually looks like @DublinAirport. We’ll have further updates in the morning. Stay safe. #StormEmma #BeastFromTheEast #Snow pic.twitter.com/ENajr7xaFX— Dublin Airport (@DublinAirport) March 2, 2018
Last night a total of 115 people were allocated beds in the Extreme Cold Weather Accommodation in the sports centre in Dublin's South Inner City according to the Peter McVerry Trust.
Outreach workes were also out in the city engaging with rough sleepers until 5.30am on Friday.
Some 21 people were found to be sleeping rough despite the extreme conditions. The team managed to persuade six to use the emergency shelter and one person was accommodated in a garda shelter.
A total of 14 people refused access to shelter.
Meanwhile, on top of the extended weather warning in place for the south and east the National Emergency Co-ordination Group (NECG) has also expressed concern that major cities including Dublin,Cork and Limerick could be hit with flooding due to high spring tides, coupled with surges from Storm Emma. There are also major concerns about melting snow.
Snowfall will continue today across Munster, Leinster and parts of Connacht in strong easterly winds; scattered snow showers in the northwest of the country. Remaining cold with highest temperatures of -1 to 2°C.— Met Éireann (@MetEireann) March 2, 2018
"We don't think tidal flooding in Cork is going to be a big issue [today], but there may be some water on the streets," NECG chairman Mr Hogan told the Irish Independent last night.
But he added: "Depending on how the meltwater happens is a concern. If it melts in a rush, you'll get shocking flooding, probably. If it's over a longer period, it just runs away. The expectation is this will go on longer in the east and south than the west. You could have 24 hours of snow in the east."
The Office of Public Works (OPW) is monitoring sea levels, and a high tide advisory is in place until Monday.
"The highest tides will be on Friday and Saturday, especially the first tides," spokesman Jim Casey said, adding the most at-risk areas were Cork city and harbour, low-lying areas on the Cork and Waterford county coastlines, Dundalk, Dublin, Wexford Harbour, Wicklow, the Shannon Estuary, and Limerick City.
High Tide in Cork city on Friday passed without incident. High tide is due at 11.30am in Dundalk, 7am in Wexford, the Shannon Estuary, and Limerick today.
Hundreds of Defence Forces and Civil Defence personnel have been deployed on emergency tasks, with most local authorities forced to stop gritting roads from late afternoon as the storm tracked north.
They are hoping to resume ploughing snow from roads and laying salt as early as possible today, but it will depend on local conditions.
Council staff have worked around the clock since early this week keeping roads open, and some 30,000 tonnes of salt - more a week's supply under normal winter conditions - is expected to be spread over the coming days.