Freezing weather takes its toll
IT might technically be spring but temperatures have plummeted to their lowest level in months, with the mercury dropping to minus 7C over the weekend.
And Met Eireann has warned people to keep their hats and gloves close to hand as the freezing weather shows no signs of disappearing any time soon.
But forecasters said the country is enjoying its longest dry spell in 10 months, with dry weather expected in most parts for the rest of the week.
Not since April last year have we been so long without rain, forecaster Vincent O'Shea said, adding that the dry spell would continue into next weekend.
But he said it would remain below freezing in many parts at nighttime, with temperatures between minus 2C and plus 2C expected.
Temperatures fell to minus 7C over the weekend at Markree Castle, Sligo, which was among the lowest temperatures recorded over the winter. Parts of the midlands and west coast experienced night-time drops as low as minus 6C, but it was warmer in Dublin and along the east coast, despite snow in Wicklow on Saturday, as there was more cloud cover.
"The days this week won't be as perishing and bitter with the biting wind, as the winds will be a lot lighter," Mr O'Shea said. "Temperatures will be better, but still cold, and nighttime frosts will be severe and widespread. The roads should be mostly dry, but any run-off from the wet weather could result in icy patches.
"Temperatures will generally be minus 2C to plus 2C during the night, and should be about normal during the day, between 6C and 10C.
"The wind-chill effect will be far less, with light and variable winds."
"We're getting to the time of year when there's a stretch in the day and morning frosts won't be inclined to linger."
Met Eireann also said we were currently in the middle of the longest dry spell since last April.
"It's probably the first protracted dry spell in months," Mr O'Shea said. "The ground has been saturated for much of the winter so farmers will be delighted. It's been a week-and-a-half since we've had any amount of rain, with only a small drop in parts of Munster.
"The weather has been pathetic in terms of rainfall. We have to cast our minds back to last April for the last prolonged dry spell. It's looking like the whole of next week will be dry up to Friday or Saturday, but that's not to say it won't break at the weekend.
Met Eireann has now issued a yellow weather warning, which is part of a new pan-European system.
Yellow means people should be aware of bad weather conditions, including gusts of wind, very low temperatures, coastal wind warnings or very high temperatures.
The warnings range from green (no significant hazard) to yellow (be aware), orange (be prepared) and red (take action).
Red warnings take into account gusts in excess of 130kmh, monster rain, falls of snow in excess of 8cm, temperatures lower than minus 8C or higher than 30C for two days or more.