Wednesday 27 March 2019

White Christmas a few days late

A young girl walks in the snow in Mallow, Co Cork Picture: Mark Condren
A young girl walks in the snow in Mallow, Co Cork Picture: Mark Condren

Ralph Riegel

The White Christmas arrived a few days late as frost, ice and snow left many parts of Ireland resembling a winter wonderland.

Snow and ice weather warnings were issued for last night with Met Éireann warning that snow accumulations of up to 2cm were expected in some areas.

However, it will be a different story for the new year as the freezing conditions will ease from today, with 2018 set to open with warmer temperatures, blustery winds and occasionally heavy showers.

The commute to work proved challenging yesterday for motorists in the south-west, Midlands and north with some areas seeing as much as 4cm of snow.

Kuba Wolanin (8) from Saggart takes a winter walk with his dog Toby at Kippure, Co Wicklow
Kuba Wolanin (8) from Saggart takes a winter walk with his dog Toby at Kippure, Co Wicklow

The lowest temperature recorded was an icy -4.1C at Mullingar, Co Westmeath.

Gardaí, the Road Safety Authority and AA RoadWatch urged motorists to drive with extreme care, given the risk posed by frost, ice and compacted snow.

The greatest threat was posed by black ice, with many roads still waterlogged from the heavy rainfall before Christmas Day.

Met Éireann issued a Status Yellow alert, which remained in place until 9pm last night. However, a second Status Yellow alert was then issued for snow and ice in 18 counties including Dublin, Kildare, Offaly and Meath. That second warning alert will only be lifted from 9am.

Tonight, an Atlantic front will sweep over the country, bringing milder conditions but also wind and rain.

Some areas will experience heavy showers with the best of the clear spells and sunshine likely on New Year's Eve.

The icy conditions didn't disrupt major sporting events with Leopardstown Races continuing as scheduled after an early morning track inspection.

Worst hit were mountainous parts of Kerry, Cork, Limerick, Tipperary and Wicklow as well as Donegal, Cavan, Monaghan and Louth.

Kerry County Council had gritting lorries operating from late on Wednesday night, but urged motorists to take extreme caution when driving on higher ground where compacted snow and ice left surfaces treacherous. There were snowfalls in Cork along the Kerry border, and in towns including Kanturk and Newmarket.

But Met Éireann's Evelyn Cusack said the snowy conditions would prove short-lived.

"It is not going to be a widespread thing, the snow showers. Some areas will escape but it will remain very cold until today," she said.

"But frost will stay in many areas throughout the day."

Travellers heading to Ireland from the UK have suffered some severe transport problems with major delays on motorways across England, Wales and Scotland due to heavy snowfalls and spillover problems from the cancellation of some flights on Wednesday at Stansted.

At one point, 300 passengers were in the Stansted Airport terminal after their flights had been cancelled.

The airport said it provided hot food and drinks to all the passengers.

Irish Independent

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