Storm Freya: Heavy snow leaves roads impassable, traffic chaos and weather warning extended
- Snow-ice weather warning extended
- Heavy tailbacks reported on M7 and M8 while some roads impassable
- AA Roadwatch says weather has caused 'extremely poor driving conditions'
- Gardai issue traffic alert asking drivers to 'exercise caution and reduce speed'
- Several flights cancelled
HEAVY snowfall during Storm Freya caused "extremely poor" driving conditions, with some road impassable and motorists facing traffic chaos.
Just days after much of Ireland enjoyed balmy weather and the first signs of summer climes, Met Eireann has extended a Status Yellow snow-ice weather warning for the entire country, which is in place until 8am tomorrow.
Gardai have issued a traffic alert this evening, noting that snowfall is effecting roads particularly in Kilkenny, Laois and Wicklow, while slushy conditions are still causing issues in Tipperary, Kilkenny, Offaly, Meath and Carlow.
Frustrated motorists have said on social media that there are extensive tailbacks.
AA Roadwatch noted that "driving conditions are extremely poor on the M7 and M8 with snow and ice on the road. Snowfall is also effecting visibility."
They have said that in Kildare, Tipperary and Laois "driving conditions remain poor on the M7, M8 and M9 due to snowfall."
Also in Kildare, gardai have advised people to avoid travelling in Naas, Athy and Kilcullen as snow is an issue still.
Motorists are also urged to stay away from the Abbeyleix/Crettyard Road in Laois and Kilkenny if possible due to "treacherous conditions."
The roads are very poor on the N80 between Portlaoise and Stradbally, and also around Birr and the south of the country.
In Wicklow the Sally Gap remains closed and AA Roadwaatch reports that road conditions throughout the county are poor.
The Vale road outside of Arklow was closed earlier due to a fallen tree but has since reopened.
The adverse conditions caused a number of crashes in the Midlands, with one car overturned onto its roof along the N80.
Several other cars also ended up in ditches during the heavy snowfall along the same stretch of road.
One eye-witness told Independent.ie: "Traffic was backed up in Portaloise, and there were some pretty bad crashes.
"There were cars in the ditch, after Arles on the way to Stradbally there was a car on its roof.
"The door was open so somebody obviously got out of it. That stretch of road is very windy, it’s like the 12 pins or the Alps.
"There was so much snow and ice on the ground, there was no grip on the tires.
"It all fell very quickly, I left Carlow to get home and it took me over two and a half hours, it normally takes an hour and ten (minutes).
"The road between Portlaoise and Mountmellick was closed as well, there were cars being pulled out of the ditch," the eye-witness said.
A garda spokesman added: "Driving conditions are poor in the midlands on the M4, M7 and M8 with emergency services clearing a collision on the M8 between Junction 3 and 4 Northbound. Motorists are asked to exercise caution and reduce speed."
Several flights were cancelled due to storm Freya.
Ryanair said in a statement: "Weather has regrettably caused a small number of Dublin cancellations. All those affected were advised of their rebook/refund options."
South Dublin County Council had crews out gritting hill routes in the area from 7pm tonight, and later said that gritting would be extended to all routes from 5am on Monday morning.
“With temperatures set to drop this evening and into tomorrow morning, we've got our crews ready to grit hill routes at 7pm this evening and all routes at 5am tomorrow morning. Please drive carefully and be aware of others when you're travelling.
“Please note that gritting has now been extended to all routes in the County and that crews are mobilising to begin asap. We will still be back out at 5am in the morning,” SDCC said on Twitter.
Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council also had gritting crew operating in the local authority area today.
“Relatively significant snowfall in the upland areas this afternoon and evening. Our gritting crews have been out since 18:00 treating roads and especially routes in the hills. If travelling please exercise caution in affected area,” DLRCC said.
The M50 Twitter account, which gives traffic alerts for the M50 Motorway and adjoining National Road Network within the Dublin commuter belt, also had workers gritting roads.
“Our gritters are heading out to plough and grit as needed over the next few hours. If passing them please make sure to give them room to work,” it said.
Louth County Council said: “All published routes will be gritted again tonight ,Sunday 3rd March, commencing at midnight. Drive carefully and keep your distance.
Offaly County Council said it was treating its roads as per its winter maintenance plan.
Gritting was also due to be carried out in Cork County Council when showers had eased in the area.
Cavan County Council said: “Over 620km of #Cavan roads will be treated tonight as temperatures drop. Salted roads can still have icy patches though, so please drive carefully and reduce speed.”
Gardai issued the following advice for drivers during the snow:
• It takes longer to stop a vehicle in snow or on icy roads so slow down and allow extra distance between you and the vehicle in front
• Keep a sharp lookout for pedestrians, cyclists and other vulnerable road users
• Keep your windows clear of snow during your journey
• Manoeuvre gently; avoid harsh braking, acceleration or steering as these can induce a skid
• Use the highest gear possible to reduce the engine revs as this will help avoid wheel spin
• When travelling downhill, especially through a series of bends, select a low gear as early as possible and allow your speed to reduce using the brake pedal gently