Tuesday 16 October 2018

'Beast from the East': Crisis team to meet as Arctic blast to bring snow and cold snap of -10C

  • National Emergency Co-ordination Group (NECG) to meet today
  • Wind chill factor will make low temperatures feel even colder
  • Status Yellow weather warning in place until March 2
  • Warning level may be escalated to Status Red
  • Department of Education 'monitoring the situation nationwide'
  • Emergency crews, Irish water and local authorities preparing for adverse weather
  • People urged to check in with elderly neighbours and loved ones
An icy image of the River Blackwater near Kanturk, Co Cork
An icy image of the River Blackwater near Kanturk, Co Cork
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

Temperatures will plunge to as low as -10C this week as a vast weather front from the Russian Arctic, dubbed the ‘Beast from the East’, sweeps across Ireland.

The Government will convene a meeting of the National Emergency Co-ordination Group (NECG) today given the seriousness of the threat posed by the approaching weather system.

The front is set to sweep over Ireland with snow, ice, sleet showers and temperatures as low as -10C – but a wind chill factor will make it feel even colder.

Some parts of Ireland could have temperatures at or below freezing for a 36-48 hour period – more than 10C below normal for this time of year.

Click to view full size graphic
Click to view full size graphic

Ireland is now set for its coldest late February for a decade.

Temperatures overnight dipped below freezing at Mount Dillon in Roscommon, Knock Airport in Mayo and in the midlands.

Sean Hogan chairperson of the NECG said the weather will bring conditions last seen in Ireland in 2010.

The NEGC will be working to coordinate services across the country to "keep Ireland moving" as far as is possible.

"This is nature we are dealing with, we're never quite sure what is going to come, there will be uncertainty about what happens," he told RTÉ's Morning Ireland.

However Met Éireann has expressed confidence in the conditions the weather systems will bring.

Cold weather conditions on the Wicklow Mountains Pic Stephen Collins/Collins Photos
Cold weather conditions on the Wicklow Mountains Pic Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

Ahead of the winter season around 280,000 tones of salt was purchased for gritting and Mr Hogan said there is enough equipment, snough ploughs and grit to ensure an appropriate response he said.

The national committee is due to meet at 10.30am this morning.

Met Éireann has indicated it may trigger a Status Red alert later in the week.

The UK’s Met Office is predicting the front will bring up to eight inches of snow.

While Irish forecasters are reluctant to predict how many inchdes of snow Ireland is likely to face deputy head of forecasting, Evelyn Cusak, warned it was the nature of the snowfall that is concerning.

She said that due to easterly gales there will be blizzard-like conditions.

Met Éireann’s warning map
Met Éireann’s warning map

"Because it's very dry air, the snow will be quite powdery so it will reduce visibility very significantly," she told RTE Radio.

Warning

The Department of Education said schools the situation would be monitored daily.

“In the event of a Status Red warning, decisions are made locally on closures. But the department will follow any advice from the National Emergency Co-ordination Group,” a spokesperson said.

Gardaí and the Road Safety Authority warned motorists to expect challenging driving conditions and, if necessary, to postpone non-essential journeys. Transport Infrastructure Ireland and local authorities are already planning to dramatically increase their road salting operations.

Met Éireann issued a Status Yellow weather warning until Friday, but that could be upgraded to a Status Red warning from Wednesday.

A young priest throws a snow ball during a heavy snowfall in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican February 26, 2018. REUTERS/Max Rossi
A young priest throws a snow ball during a heavy snowfall in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican February 26, 2018. REUTERS/Max Rossi
Tourists walk and take pictures in the central Via dei Fori during a snowfall in Rome on February 26, 2018 AFP/Getty Images
A man feeds pigeons during a heavy snowfall in Sofia on February 26, 2018. / AFP PHOTO
A woman with a child walks dogs during a heavy snowfall in Sofia on February 26, 2018. / AFP PHOTO /
Saint Peter's Basilica is seen in the background as people enjoy the snow following a heavy snowfall at the Circus Maximus in Rome, Italy February 26, 2018. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
Commuters walking in the snow on London Bridge, as some parts of the UK are set to feel colder than the Arctic Circle as freezing temperatures continue into the week ahead Steve Parsons/PA Wire
A priest plays with snow during a heavy snowfall in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican February 26, 2018. REUTERS/Max Rossi
A monument is covered by snow during a heavy snowfall in Rome, Italy February 26, 2018. REUTERS/Remo Casilli
A young priest throws a snow ball during a heavy snowfall in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican February 26, 2018. REUTERS/Max Rossi
Women and children walk on the stone-block pavement in central Moscow, Russia February 25, 2018. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
People walk during a heavy snowfall in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican February 26, 2018. REUTERS/Max Rossi
People make their way across the Millennium Bridge, in central London, in windy conditions as freezing air from Russia is to grip the UK in what is set to be the coldest late February in five years. Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Commuters walking in the snow on London Bridge, as some parts of the UK are set to feel colder than the Arctic Circle as freezing temperatures continue into the week ahead. Steve Parsons/PA Wire
Trevi fountain is covered in snow during a heavy snowfall in Rome, Italy February 26, 2018. REUTERS/Remo Casilli
People walk during a heavy snowfall in downtown Rome, Italy February 26, 2018. REUTERS/Max Rossi
A man skis during a heavy snowfall in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican February 26, 2018. REUTERS/Max Rossi
Nuns walk during a heavy snowfall in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican February 26, 2018. REUTERS/Max Rossi

Forecasters are predicting significant snow build-ups from tomorrow but, if heavy sleet showers and plunging temperatures combine, a Status Red warning – the most serious alert possible – is likely to be issued.

If a Status Red warning is issued, motorists will be advised to cancel or postpone journeys and people will be urged to remain indoors.

The last major Status Red weather warning issued by Met Éireann was for Storm Ophelia in October – and it was credited with saving dozens of lives as near hurricane-force winds hit Ireland.

Dublin, the east coast, the south-east, Ulster and north Connacht are predicted to face the brunt of the icy weather that will sweep over Ireland from Norway and Russia.

Met Éireann’s Evelyn Cusack and Joanna Donnelly warned the potential impact of the weather should not be underestimated.

“It will be exceptionally cold. The system will come sweeping down across Russia and then westwards over continental Europe,” Ms Cusack explained.

“Watch out for the weather warnings this week, they could be up to orange or even possibly a red level warning at times depending on the nature of showers,” Ms Donnelly said.

Speaking this morning Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy, who is responsible for emergency planning, said it was important to communicate that this week would see a “severe weather event”, and that coordination between emergency services was already underway.

He also said that people experiencing homelessness would be able to stay in emergency accommodation during the cold snap.

“We must make sure all services (in homelessness) are coordinated,” he said. “We have had a cold weather initiative since December so it’s ramping that up to make sure there are extra beds in the system, and that there’s rough sleeper teams out there bringing people in.

“When we do our cold weather initiative it turns to a 24-hour service,” he added.

Irish Water has mobilised its crisis management team given the threat posed by frozen pipes. Age Action asked people to check on their elderly neighbours.

In the UK where the weather has already taken a turn train operators have canceled services this morning and forecasters are predicting chaos on the roads as conditions deteriorate.

The Met Office has also warned that some rural communities are likely to be cut off and power cuts are likely.

People have also been warned that services such as mobile phones may be affected.

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