Winter is here: Snowfall lands in Ireland as Met Eireann extends weather warning
- Snow-ice warning in place until Saturday with 'significant accumulations' of snow
- Temperatures as low as -3C expected
- Motorists urged to take caution on roads
- 'Huge concerns' for people sleeping rough
- 'We are appealing to everyone to take extra care' - RSA
THE first significant snowfall of the year landed in many parts of the country today, as Met Eireann updated their current weather warning.
The nationwide 'Status Yellow' snow-ice weather warning is to last until the weekend. Forecasters updated the warning with more information shortly after 10am this morning, and are due to review it again tomorrow morning.
The national forecaster has warned of "frequent" showers of hail, sleet and snow in the southwest, west and north west, with snowfall accumulations possible this evening and overnight.
Parts of the country woke up to the first sightings of snow this morning, including Westport in Co Mayo and the Wicklow mountains.
Motorists are advised to avoid the Sally Gap in Co Wicklow, as the route is "impassable following snowfall".
While the wintry showers will become more "isolated" tomorrow, significant snowfall can be expected on Wednesday and Thursday, according to Met Éireann.
"It's tonight that the showers will leave falls of of snow, as temperatures drop to below freezing, between 0 and -3C. The wintry showers tomorrow will become more isolated, and the winds will ease as well," Met Éireann forecaster John Eagleton told RTÉ's Morning Ireland.
"The big threat of snow this week is on Wednesday night and during Thursday, as the winds turn easterly in direction and as the pressure to the south of Ireland injects moisture to those easterly winds.
"Once that threat passes, it will remain cold and frosty for Friday and the weekend, and then temperatures will start to creep up again at the start of next week.
"In the meantime, the rest of this week is cold and frosty with a threat of some serious snow later on Wednesday night and Thursday."
Motorists have been warned there will be widespread frosts and icy stretches on untreated roads.
AA Roadwatch are urging motorists to keep distance between cars and to use "gentle manoeuvres".
"Wet road conditions have been reported across the country. Slow down and keep a safe distance between you and the driver in front," a spokesperson said.
- Read more: 'Huge concerns' for homeless as 'threat of serious snow' and temperatures of -3C expected
"Remember stopping distances are 10 times longer in ice and snow, and that gentle manoeuvres are the key to safe driving."
Road Safety Authority's Communications Manager Brian Farrell said they are "taking the opportunity to appeal to everyone to take extra care".
"It's important to slow down, the conditions will be challenging," he told RTÉ Radio One's Morning Ireland.
"There are two things we're asking drivers in particular as Met Éireann issue their warning.
"To make sure their vehicle is fit for purpose. Make sure your vehicle is ready, checking tyres, that your windscreen wipers aren't worn away, that you have antifreeze, that your lights are in good working order.
"It is vital to deal with the challenges of winter.
"Secondly, sun glare is a problem at this time of the year," Mr Farrell continued.
"The low sun on the horizon can be dazzling.
"We advise drivers to invest in a pair of sunglasses."
The Status Yellow weather warning will remain in place until 6pm on Saturday.
Meanwhile, fears have been raised for homeless people sleeping rough as temperatures are set to fall to -3C.
Anthony Flynn, of the Inner City Helping Homeless charity, said his group has "huge concerns" for the safety of people sleeping rough around the country.
He called on Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy to implement emergency protocols for extra beds.
"We have on average 80 people still forced to sleep rough on the streets of the capital every night due to the lack of beds," he said.
"Whilst this is a reduction of at least 55pc since early December we still have a shortage. With the risk of snow and a cold weather warning in place I am appealing to the minister to immediately initiate contingency measures and open as many beds as possible to reduce the risk of death on our streets."
Met Éireann said there will be showers of hail, sleet and snow today, heaviest in the south-west, west and north. Temperatures will rise to just 2C to 5C before falling as low as -3C tonight.