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Wednesday 13 December 2017

Weather claims its sixth victim as thaw brings new dangers

Paul Melia and Tom Shiel

A SIXTH person has fallen victim to the severe cold weather as local authorities last night warned of dangerous road conditions caused by melting snow and ice.

The body of single man John McCann, who was in his late 40s, was found lying in snow outside his home at Barnacoogue, Swinford, Co Mayo, on Thursday afternoon. Gardai believe his death was weather-related.

A post mortem will be carried out today at Mayo General Hospital in Castlebar.

"The body was found around 2pm by a person who went to check on Mr McCann," said Supt Ronan Galligan.

"There was snow and ice on the ground. The body could have been out in the open throughout Wednesday night when temperatures were sub-zero."

It is believed Mr McCann got a lift home on Wednesday evening and may have fallen before he reached his home, which is at the end of a lane.

Meanwhile, as minor flooding occurred in Ballyfermot in Dublin yesterday, the Road Safety Authority (RSA) warned of hazardous road conditions due to the thaw and advised motorists to drive at reduced speeds as road surfaces may also be damaged following the recent bad weather.

Slush will also build up on roads, bringing a risk of localised flooding.


Pedestrians have been called upon to wear high-visibility clothing and be especially careful on footpaths.

Dublin City Council said 14 additional crews will work over the weekend to remove compacted ice and snow, with pavements leading to bus stops, schools and other areas identified as high priority.

City centre and suburban villages will be cleared, but it is unlikely many housing estates will be treated. The council, which has had 700 staff clearing the streets for the past two weeks, urged local communities to help make footpaths safe.

"We acknowledge with thanks the work the public has already done in clearing snow and ice from driveways and pathways," a spokesman said. "We are urging communities and businesses to continue with this valuable work."

The council offered some tips when clearing ice:

  • Do not use hot water to melt the ice. It later turns to black ice, increasing the risk of injury.
  • Make a line down the middle of the path first, so there is a safe surface to walk on. Once broken, shovel the ice from the centre to the sides.
  • Think about where you will put the ice so you don't block drainage channels and manholes. Ideally, it should be deposited on green spaces or in gardens.

While the thaw is expected to continue into Monday, Met Eireann has warned of low temperatures over the weekend.

Temperatures could fall to minus 3C tonight, and fog will become widespread. Next week will be cold, with night-time temperatures falling as low as minus 6C.

Meanwhile, water restrictions will remain in place across the country until at least Monday as authorities struggle to restore supplies after two weeks of unrelenting snow and ice.

Increased demand has resulted in reservoirs falling to critically low levels. Pressure will be reduced for people living in the areas served by Dublin City, Fingal, South Dublin, Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown, Kildare and Wicklow councils.

Burst pipes are also expected to cause problems, with water shut off in counties Cavan, Galway, Kerry and Tipperary yesterday as the thaw set in.

All local authorities have urged homeowners to conserve water. Dublin City Council said that, despite three nights of restrictions, water levels were still below what was needed going into the holiday period.

"Treated water levels have stopped falling but are still below where they need to be," it said in a statement. "To reduce the risk of more severe restrictions it has been decided to continue with current levels between 7pm and 7am each night up to and including Sunday night."

The position will be reviewed on Monday.

Irish Independent

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