'Storm Emma' will impact everybody, people need to be 'aware' - National Emergency Coordination Group
'Beast from the East' named 'Storm Emma' as weather warning elevated
Status Orange alert issued for counties on the east coast
Red Alerts expected to be issued later in the week
Meeting of national emergency committee underway
Local authorities have 'ample supply' of salt for roads
Schools monitoring the situation 'daily'
School buses will not operate if Status Red alert is issued
Dublin Airport advises customers to check flight status regularly
'Storm Emma' will impact everybody across the country and people "need to be aware", the chair of the National Emergency Coordination Group said this afternoon.
The National Emergency Coordination Group (NECG) are meeting as Met Éireann upgrades its weather warning for seven counties.
The country is currently preparing for a Siberian weather front set to send temperatures plummeting and bring frost, snow and icy conditions.
Chair of NECG Sean Hogan said the weather, which has been dubbed the 'Beast from the East', will affect everybody nationwide.
"We're expecting some very unusual and extreme weather conditions over the next number of days," Mr Hogan said.
"This is an evolving situation and we would ask people to watch the forecast and the warnings by Met Eireann in the days ahead.
"This weather is going to impact everybody across the country so people need to watch out for this and be aware that this weather is coming."
A Status Orange warning has been issued for Dublin, Carlow, Kildare, Laois, Louth, Wicklow and Meath.
An updated weather advisory and 3 separate warnings relating to snow/ice and low temperatures have been issued.— Met Éireann (@MetEireann) February 26, 2018
Please see https://t.co/9BeK3UcAwO for details.
Met Eireann said that 'Storm Emma' will come into effect at 3pm on Tuesday and remain in place until 11am on Wednesday.
They also already warned that as conditions worsen later in the week the warning level may be further elevated to Status Red.
The forecaster is expecting snowfall from tomorrow evening and overnight which will lead to an accumulation of between 4cm and 6cm by Wednesday morning.
This will be compounded by widespread frost and icy conditions.
Three Status Yellow warnings are also in place ahead of the extreme weather.
A Status Yellow warning is in place for Kilkenny, Longford, Wexford, Offaly, Westmeath, Cork, Tipperary and Waterford from 6.00pm Tuesday to 11.00am on Wednesday.
A Status Yellow weather advisory for the whole country has also been extended and is in place until March 3 at 6.00pm.
A low temperature warning is also in place for Monday night as temperatures of -5 are expected.
Very cold today. Frost clearing to leave a mix of cloud & bright or sunny spells. Generally dry, but some snow flurries are likely later today in eastern coastal counties. Top temps only 2 to 6°C, best in the southwest and feeling colder in moderate to fresh & gusty SE'ly winds. pic.twitter.com/3PDIFrsHwz— Met Éireann (@MetEireann) February 26, 2018
A meeting of the National Emergency Co-ordination Group (NECG) took place today to coordinate the national response to the adverse weather.
Mr Eddie Burke, from the Policy and Governance Coordination Division at the Department of Transport, said all transport operators are in preparation at the moment.
"They all have routes and plans in place," Mr Burke said.
Keep safe and warm, but if you are out in Storm Emma we'd love to see your photos and videos. Send by email to email@example.com or Whatsapp to 0871847169
"We are monitoring the situation. At this stage we don’t expect any disruption until the snow starts moving in on Wednesday and Thursday.
"What we will ask people planning to travel later in the week to monitor websites and social media of all the transport operators."
Meanwhile, Communications Director at Transport Infrastructure Ireland, Sean O'Neill said they have approximately 120,000 tonnes of salt to distribute on the country's roads.
"We have an ample supply... 120K tonnes. Our regional distribution network has been well briefed and ready to distribute," Mr O'Neill said.
"Local authorities are in line with our distribution networks so we'll deal with it as we can.
"We have 100,000Km of roads in Ireland.
"The national road network is just over 5,000km, but carries 40pc of the traffic. It does mean that a lot of regional roads may not get salted or ploughed, etc. People need to keep that in perspective.
"Additional rural road networks are going to be difficult to deal with during the heavy snow."
Chief Executive of Wicklow County Council Frank Curran, representing local government at the meeting, said the country's local authorities are "ready".
"The local authorities here are ready," he said.
"We are salting priority routes at present, this will continue right through the severe weather event. Snow ploughs, fire services and the civil defence are on standby.
"In each local authority there is a coordination centre. This has all the principal response services locally and is chaired by the local authority, HSE, Gardai and local agencies.
"The local authority websites will have information in terms of road conditions, cold weather initiatives, advise in relation to road safety etc," he added.
Bus Eireann has said that if there is a Status Red alert is put it place it will not operate its school buses.
Siobhan O'Donnell, a spokeswoman from Dublin Airport, said that if snow falls faster than it can be cleared the airport is facing a problem.
"We have over 100 pieces of equipment to brush, blow and sweep away snow," she said.
"If the snow falls faster than we can clear it then we have a problem.
"We advise our customers to check with their airline before they travel."
Ahead of the meeting, 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.
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.
"From Wednesday evening, Wednesday night and Thursday morning we are talking about snow showers from the Irish sea," deputy head of forecasting for Met Eireann, Evelyn Cusack, told RTE Radio.
"The high danger area for country-wide is Thursday evening, Thursday night and Friday morning," she said.
Over this period what is known as "dynamic snow" is expected due to a "two-pronged attack" as two weather systems meet.
A weather system is pushing up from the Bay of Biscay bringing a lot of precipitation and as it hits the cold air across Ireland and Britain there is a high risk of some very heavy snow.
The UK’s Met Office is predicting the front will bring up to eight inches of snow throughout the coming days.
Ms Cusack warned it was the nature of the snowfall that is concerning meteorologists here.
She said that due to easterly gales there will be blizzard-like conditions.
"Because it's very dry air, the snow will be quite powdery so it will reduce visibility very significantly," she told RTE Radio.
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.
Meanwhile, Dublin Bus expects all services to operate as normal tomorrow.
"We will be monitoring the situation closely and we are taking advice from Met Éireann and the National Emergency Coordination Group," they wrote online.
Weather causing chaos across Europe
In Italy the army was deployed to clear streets in the capital after the snowfall paralysed Rome with just a few inches of snow.
Parks that usually stay green through the winter were blanketed with snow. Even the Circo Massimo became a hotspot for snowball fights, while Piazza Navona, with its famed Bernini fountains, turned into a snow-dusted winter wonderland.
Mayor Virginia Raggi signed an ordinance on Sunday evening closing public schools as a precaution, with many private ones following suit.
In Moscow, temperatures dropped to this winter’s lowest yet, despite the approaching spring. The mercury in the Russian capital dropped to nearly -20C on Sunday night, the coldest this winter.
Croatia, meanwhile, has been gripped by freezing weather, with even towns along most of the Adriatic coast waking up to temperatures below freezing. The cold spell has closed schools in the north-west, and heavy vehicles were banned from all roads leading toward the coast.
About 1,000 Croatian soldiers have joined efforts to clear the snow in the worst-affected areas where more than 5ft has been reported.
Snow and freezing temperatures have a grasp on some parts of Germany as meteorologists reported a record cold for this winter of -27C on the Zugspitze mountain in the Alps.
The German Weather Service said overnight temperatures were also low in the south and east of the country, where they went down to minus 15C in parts. It was slightly warmer in the north-east, but traffic there came to a halt in some regions because of heavy snowfall.
The German news agency dpa reported that in the northern city of Bremen, at least 10 flights were cancelled due to snow. Along the Baltic coast in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern several cars crashed on icy streets, injuring at least four people.
According to reports two men have died due t o the weather in France - a homeless man in the city of Valence in the country’s southeast was found dead on Sunday. Another man was found dead at a Cabin in Paris on Friday.
Additional reporting by Press Association