White St Patrick's Day on cards as temperatures fall to -8C
SNOW looks likely on St Patrick's Day as Ireland endures Siberian conditions, with wind chill making it feel as cold as minus 11C.
The lowest temperature yesterday was officially -5.7C, recorded in Co Donegal, but it was expected to fall to -8C overnight in the Midlands as winter made a return.
There were dozens of traffic accidents across the country, with Leinster the worst hit. However, there were no reports of any serious injuries.
Mark Dunphy, the editor of Irish weather website meteotimes.net, said the bitter cold would continue today before temperatures started to rise slightly later in the week.
"Wind chill is determined by the air temperature and the strength of the wind," he said.
"While much of the country ex-perienced daytime highs of only -1C to 2C, wind gusts of up to 75kmh were recorded widely, so the real-feel would be -8C to -11C, making it feel very raw indeed."
While temperatures will rise from tomorrow, it is going to be a bitterly cold St Patrick's weekend.
"Temperatures will remain below normal this weekend," said Mr Dunphy.
"There will be scattered showers of rain and hail with some sleet and snow in parts of Ulster and north Connacht, particularly on St Patrick's Day and again on bank holiday Monday."
Northerly winds will make it feel colder for anyone out and about at parades.
"Hail, sleet and snow are not uncommon during mid-March," said Mr Dunphy, "and there have been at least two occasions in the past 20 years during which snow has fallen on St Patrick's Day."
Met Eireann's Joan Blackburn said conditions would improve this evening and tomorrow as temperatures increased to around 6C, but they would still be well below average for the time of year.
"The models are showing signs of improvement later in the week, but it will be colder than usual," she said.
Only four flights were cancelled early yesterday at Dublin Airport, but there were delays to several others as the runway was cleared of ice and snow.
High winds forced Stena Line to cancel its 9am service from Rosslare to Fishguard, while Irish Ferries had to cancel its Swift services, accommodating passengers on its conventional ferries.
Coastal areas of Leinster were the worst hit by the snow, with gardai issuing a warning to motorists in the Dundalk area last night to slow down in the deteriorating conditions.
The worst-hit stretch of road was the M4 Dublin to Sligo road between Enfield and Leixlip, where there were some 12 separate crashes, causing long tailbacks.
Some motorists in Co Offaly were forced to abandon their vehicles following heavy snow yesterday afternoon, and in Kerry a motorist had to be rescued from her car on Conor's Pass.
The Road Safety Authority has warned motorists in all areas to slow down today as the freezing conditions continue.