Storm Emma latest: Safety advice to stay home withdrawn as blizzard conditions pass - but Red Alert remains
- Safety advice to remain indoors withdrawn
- Some schools may not reopen on Monday
- Status Red alert remains for much of the country until 6pm
- Thousands without power across country; some people stuck in cars since last night
- Up to a metre of snow fell on Thursday
- Flooding now a real threat
- Major transport disruption as public systems remain closed but Iarnród Éireann say some services will resume at 9am Saturday
- Thousands without power, water and Eir coverage
THE public safety notice for people around the country to stay indoors has been withdrawn this morning as blizzard conditions associated with Storm Emma have now passed.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However, the safety advice to stay indoors has been withdrawn - which will be a major help in getting the country back moving, and a decision that is likely to be widely welcomed by children around the country.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. A number of people were stuck in their cars overnight.
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is still heavy snow and strong winds, but it's not in the blizzard-style conditions that we had last night so we have withdrawn the advice that people need to shelter indoors," Sean Hogan of the NECG told Morning Ireland.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.
Barry Kenny of Irish Rail, speaking on Ireland AM on TV3, said: "We already have crews starting the work needed to ensure we have full services tomorrow."
And via a tweet this morning Irish Rail confirmed that their services would resume at 9am on Saturday, subject to alterations and some delays.
They added that full details of the services running tomorrow will be posted on their website at 5pm.
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
Speaking on RTE Radio One, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar praised the Irish people for adhering to the Red Status weather alert.
"There are a few people who didn't adhere to it but a lot of people did. It does make a difference. In England and Scotland, there were eight-hour tailbacks on motorways and all sorts of things that didn't happen here. In Ireland, people did adhere to the advice. Some people said it was a bit of an over-reaction but that's easily said, if we had hundreds of people out last night on the roads, we would be in a very different position this morning.
"It is OK to go back outside... but there is still a lot of snow today. The advice is still to avoid any travel."
The Taoiseach added that the National Emergency Co-Ordination group will meet again this morning to get updates on Storm Emma across the country.
No major incidents have been reported overnight according to the emergency services.
Schools and colleges remain closed today and not all may reopen on Monday.
A Department of Education spokesperson said the situation was being monitored and they expected to be in a better position on Saturday about the position for Monday.
James Gray, Consultant in Emergency Medicine at Tallaght Hospital, told RTE Radio One that no patients presented with hypothermia last night.
"We've had trauma and snow-related injuries. Yesterday, a number of patients injured their shoulder after trying to remove snow using shovels. There were some trips and falls and a few back fractures. We had one case of borderline hypothermia from people wandering around without socks at night. Overall, it is under control."
One young man, who was injured in a fall on Thursday afternoon at around 3pm, has been left with serious injuries.
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. At one stage, more than 110,000 homes and businesses were affected.
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.
He urged anyone who is without power to make contact with the utility.
A spokesperson for ESB Networks on Newstalk said: "Throughout the night our operations staff worked to re-route power around our networks.
"At 6am we have about 24,000 without electricity. Some new faults emerged since. We're down now to 26,000 nationally, mainly on the east coast.
"The big challenge at the moment is access, some places are completely inaccessible."In detail: The areas around the country hit by electricity faults outages
Meanwhile, in Galway around 5,000 customers are without water - and people are being asked to conserve water in Dublin.
Katherine Walsh, Head of Operations at Irish Water, told Ireland AM on TV3 that there were "plant failures across the country, and we're unable to get crews out for repairs .
"In the east, in Co Wicklow there's a boil water notice effecting 1,900 people
"In Dublin, we're monitoring there, we're operating at capacity. We'd ask people to conserve water."
There are approximately 300 homes affected in the south in local schemes, but no mass outages.
"We will have challenging over the coming days, there's no doubt about it. We do expect a significant increase in leaks and that will involve a fairly major repair programme," she said.
An estimated 10,000 Eir Customers are without network access today. Most of those affected are in the Limerick area including Hospital, Pallasgreen, Murroe, Croom and Kilfinane.
Eir has advised that due to difficult conditions nationwide repairs will take time.
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.
A number of people became stuck in their cars overnight when blizzards hit making roads impassable and visibility was reduced to zero.
Gardai have said that people remained stuck in their vehicles in Tallaght, Newcastle, the Phoenix Park, on roads around the back of Dublin Airport, and in Lucan.
"It seems some people may have left the city late in the day yesterday, and judged local conditions in town as being manageable, but as they got out of the city to where conditions were worse they got stuck," said a garda spokesman.
The advice being given to those in cars overnight was to keep their engines running, ensuring the area around their exhaust pipe was clear of snow, and to keep in touch with emergency services.
"There is an ongoing effort to reach these people during the day and we hope that everyone is ok. Some reported getting low on petrol so that would be a concern," said the garda spokesman.
"With many businesses closed last night there was probably nowhere for these people to knock in to for assistance, so they were safer in their cars with the heaters on," he added.
Speaking on Newstlak this morning, Conor Faughnan of the AA said: "We're still advertising people not to travel on the roads. A lot of roads are still very restricted.
"There's a lot of catch up to be done, we're advising people to stay off the roads if they can avoid it.
"We may be past the worst of the storm, but if you do head out you are likely to find yourself in trouble"
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.
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 workers 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 Sean 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.
And Rehab have announced today that the People of the Year awards, scheduled for tomorrow night at the Mansion House, has been postponed due to the weather.
The organisers say that they are working to find a new date for the ceremony and they hope to announce it shortly.