'Treacherous' snowy conditions to deteriorate as temperatures set to plunge to -8C
Road users are being warned to take extreme caution
The first major snowfall of the year hit much of the country last night as Met Éireann issued a Status Orange snow and ice alert for 17 counties.
The alert remains in place until 11pm tomorrow as temperatures are expected to get worse on Sunday night.
Met Eireann forecaster Joanna Donnelly told RTÉ's Morning Ireland that "treacherous" conditions are expected over the coming days.
"It will begin to cloud over in the south-west later today with some widespread rain and that is when things will get tricky. It's going to bring local spot flooding into the south and south-west but as it moves northwards into that cold air it is going to turn to snow and we're expecting large accumulations over Connacht, the midlands and much of Leinster too. Temperatures tonight in that snowy weather is going to be between -1 and -5 degrees."
Ms Donnelly said that winds will become strong before tomorrow morning.
"Most of the country can expect a snowy white blanket on Sunday morning. That snow will continue on Sunday. There will be some heavy rain in Munster too. Temperatures on Sunday evening will struggle to rise above freezing. On Sunday temperatures will be as low as -8C, possibly lower still.
"There will be widespread severe frost on Sunday night and that is going to bring treacherous driving conditions to the whole country with all areas at risk on Sunday night and Monday morning. There will be sleet and snow for a while until it gradually dies out.
"Conditions are going to get dangerous tonight as the rain turns to snow and moves widespread over the country. If you have any journeys on Monday morning do take care because conditions are going to be treacherous."
Counties Cavan, Monaghan, Donegal, Kildare, Laois, Longford, Louth, Wicklow, Offaly, Westmeath and Meath and the five counties in Connacht could see accumulations of between 4cm and 8cms of snow with drifting likely due to strong northerly winds by tomorrow morning and throughout the day on Sunday.
This was due to the clash of cold air with heavy rain moving northwards from the south-west overnight and another rain system moving southwards during the day today.
Met Éireann have issued status Orange and Yellow weather warnings for scattered snow showers & icy conditions this weekend. Pls plan your journeys, bsafe & heed the following advice https://t.co/Cx4UIpYG1k Pls RT pic.twitter.com/3vltC9SluB— An Garda Síochána (@GardaTraffic) December 8, 2017
The National Emergency Coordination Group met yesterday to discuss measures to deal with any potential issues arising from the severe snow and ice conditions.
It said that in addition to road salting, local authorities would be activating assessment teams to review conditions.
Mainly dry today with sunny spells. Isolated showers in the north. Temperatures just 1 to 4 degrees generally but higher in the south and southwest.— Met Éireann (@MetEireann) December 9, 2017
Meanwhile, the Road Safety Authority last night urged all road users and pedestrians to take extreme caution over the next few days and be on the look-out for treacherous black ice appearing as glossy patches, especially in sheltered areas.
“Slippery paths and treacherous roads are also expected due to snow accumulation and ice.
“Lower temperatures will mean roads may be icy, beware of black ice,” the RSA said, adding that drivers must drive slower than normal on icy or snowy roads.
AA Roadwatch is advising motorists to slow down due to the icy conditions.
"Allow extra time to defrost your car before your journey and keep in mind that stopping distances are up to 10 times longer in icy conditions."