Sunday 20 January 2019

The 'Beast from the East': Everything you need to know as Ireland prepares for Siberian freeze

Brothers Bogdan [4] and Roberto [5] Tentiue pictured with their little sister Patrice [2] [ from Rathfarnham] enjoy the snow in the Dublin Mountains.Picture:Frank Mc Grath
Brothers Bogdan [4] and Roberto [5] Tentiue pictured with their little sister Patrice [2] [ from Rathfarnham] enjoy the snow in the Dublin Mountains.Picture:Frank Mc Grath
Snow at the Sally Gap Newsdesk Newsdesk

With Ireland bracing for the 'Beast from the East' which will bring freezing conditions and snowfall we look at everything you need to know.

What is the weather system and where did it get its nickname?

Winds sweeping across Siberia from the North Pole will bring snow and very cold temperatures in the coming week.

The front will stall over Ireland and the UK for almost a week and postpone milder spring weather conditions until early March.

The dry polar air mass will gather moisture when crossing the North Sea and the Irish Sea causing snow and sleet showers on the East Coast that penetrate further inland, she said.

Forecasters in the UK have nicknamed the system the 'Beast from the East'.

However, Met Eireann's Evelyn Cusack, did not agree with the nickname but conceded:

"It's going to be bitterly cold with significant wind chill for man and beast."

Has a weather alert been issued?

A status yellow weather warning is in place until March 2 ahead of the plummeting temperatures. It is expected that temperatures will be between five and ten degrees below normal and the weather is set to get progressively worse as the week continues.

However a red alert may be issued depending on the timing of snowfall and winter showers.

Forecaster Joanna Donnelly warned that a red level warning could be issued next week.

"Watch out for the weather warnings this week, they could be up to orange or even possibly a red level warning at times depending on the nature of showers that come.

“We are expecting some disruption due to the accumulation of the snow, of showers coming in off the Irish sea – mostly affecting eastern and south-eastern coasts but at times drifting further inland too.”

How the cold snap will unfold:


From Tuesday onwards, forecasts predict disruptive snow showers, particularly in the east and southeast, with temperatures falling between -3 and -7 overnight. Snow showers during the evening and overnight along with “severe frost” also be expected.

By Wednesday, the weather is projected to be “extremely cold” with sunny spells and snow showers. The eastern half of the country is expected to receive the heaviest and most frequent snow showers, but temperatures are predicted to remain below freezing in most parts of the country with frost and ice throughout the day.

Maximum temperatures Wednesday will range from -1 to +1 degrees in strong, easterly winds, and dropping to -3 and -7 overnight paired with severe frost formation.

“Bitterly cold” weather and morning scattered snow showers are expected on Thursday, followed by a more persistent spell of snow  across the south of the country during the afternoon. These snow showers are expected to extend northwards later in the day, with outbreaks of sleet and snow across the entire country overnight.

Friday’s conditions remain uncertain, but the national forecaster predicts more cold temperatures paired with outbreaks of rain, sleet and snow.

What preparations are being made?

Councils around the country are preparing for the freezing weather.

A Louth County Council spokesman said gritting would take place on roads nightly.

Fingal County Council has activated its Severe Weather Alert Team and its crisis management team is "actively monitoring the situation".

"We will be posting updates as required through our usual communication channels including the Fingal Alerts App, our website,, and our Twitter and Facebook accounts," the spokesman added.

Dublin City Council's Roads Divisions are on standby to implement the city's Winter Maintenance Plan covering severe snow and ice events on the road network.

Engineers are monitoring weather forecast data from Met Eireann and data from regional weather stations.

Road-gritting crews are also on standby to salt 300km of street network covering the national, regional and bus and commuter routes.

What do I need to do to be prepared?

Met Eireann have urged people to consult their 'Be winter ready' booklet or the online resource.

The advice includes information for elderly people to ensure they "keep warm, eat well and avoid unnecessary travel". People are advised to check in on their elderly neighbours and loved ones ahead of adverse weather.


What about schools?

Schools are to remain open on Monday.

A spokeswoman from the Department of Education said the department is continuing to monitor the situation nationwide.

A meeting of the national emergency co-ordination group  is due to be held on Monday and the department is represented on that committee.

The spokeswoman said in the event of a status red warning decisions are made locally on closures in the event of weather warnings but added the department will follow any advice from the national emergency coordination group. 

Decisions to close due to adverse weather are generally taken on a case by case basis.

According to the Government's Be Winter Ready Advice the "decision to close a school rests with the school management authority taking into consideration the full guidance and direction available from the principal response agencies, especially An Garda Siochana.

"Any decision to close is taken in the interest of child safety, having assessed the local risks and having consulted, as appropriate, with school transport operators."

During Storm Ophelia a Red alert was issued which led to the closure of all schools for safety reasons.

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