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Drivers tackle -8C return of the Big Freeze

JUST when you thought Spring had sprung, temperatures have plunged to a shocking -8c.

And there are more Arctic conditions to come in the week ahead.

Met Eireann warned today of hard ground frosts making difficult driving conditions for early morning commuters.

And after the coldest winter in almost 40 years, the freezing conditions aren't going to go without a fight.

Many of the main commuter routes into Dublin were affected, especially areas of Kildare, Wicklow, Wexford and Laois.

"It's certainly going to be cold through the middle of the week," said a spokesperson for Met Eireann.

"Night temperatures are going to be very cold and well below average for this time of year.

"The weather will be very settled, but very cold, with day-time temperatures struggling to make it up to average levels for March.

"There is no sign of Spring weather (at night-time), with our cold weather continuing."

Temperatures are set to fall below zero tonight and dropping to - 3 to - 7 C over much of the country, Met Eireann warned.

Tomorrow will be another dry, bright day but cold with temperatures only climbing to 5 to 9 C.

Wednesday and Thursday will have similiar weather during the day, with a good deal of fine, clear but cold weather.

The nights will see further widespread frosts with temperatures going down to -5 or -6C in some spots, with a few overnight fog patches, but these will lift during the day.

Friday will stay dry much of the time, but patchy cloud and a northwesterly breeze may produce small amounts of rain.

However, the south and southeast will be the warmest on Friday with temperatures reaching 11 C.

The cold weather in early March followed the coldest February since 1986 -- and the coldest winter for almost 50 years.

This winter was the coldest since 1962/3 with an air temperature of -16.3C recorded on January 7 at the climatological station of Mount Juliet, Co Kilkenny -- the lowest measured in the country since January, 1979, Met Eireann said.