Plummeting temperatures to hit -4 causing havoc on the roads

Plummeting temperatures to hit -4 causing havoc on the roads
A car that slid off the road in Co. Clare this morning. Pic: Press 22

Motorists are being urged to take care on roads in the coming days as plummeting temperatures threaten to cause havoc.

Temperatures are due to drop to as low as -4 degrees in many areas tonight and Met Éireann has forecast further cold and wind tomorrow. While there is no additional snow forecast for many areas, the meltwater from today's fall was expected to freeze and cause further issues on roads and footpaths.

The cold snap will continue until Sunday at least, with temperatures due to fall well below freezing each night.

Snow is due to be heaviest over much of Munster and south Leinster and Met Éireann has warned of 'bitterly cold' temperatures in many areas.

Traffic battling the snow and sleet on the N71 Cork to West Cork road this morning. Picture: Szymon Landwojtowicz
Traffic battling the snow and sleet on the N71 Cork to West Cork road this morning. Picture: Szymon Landwojtowicz

As the weekend arrives, frost and ice will begin to clear slowly as bright and dry weather emerges.

The freezing temperatures caused motorists to abandon cars, schools to shut their doors and played havoc with bus services, many of which were delayed or re-routed.

Throughout Co Cork, lengthy tailbacks were evident as motorists struggled to get to grips with the first cold snap of the year.

Areas like Maryborough and Douglas on the southside of the city were at a standstill on Wednesday, while members of the public also reported issues in Ballincollig's town centre, Wilton and Bishopstown in the west of the city. There were reports of lengthy tailbacks on Carr's Hill and motorists heading towards Cork city from Bandon and Kinsale also faced lengthy delays.

Both Cork City and Cork County Councils insisted that substantial gritting work had been undertaken, despite the issues.

In county areas, 1,685km of roads were treated at 8pm on Tuesday night and again at 4am this morning. Further gritting will take place from 6.30pm tonight. However, in many areas, compact snowfalls made it impossible for salt to penetrate and have the desired impact on the ground, according to a county council spokesperson.

Cork County Council said that it has increased the number of gritters from 14 to 16 this winter and also has additional snowploughs on hand if required.

Met Éireann's John Eagleton says the greatest risk of snow showers will be overnight tonight and Thursday.

"The big threat of snow this week remains late on Wednesday night/Thursday," said Mr Eagleton.

"The winds turn easterly and depression to the south of Ireland injects a lot of moisture into those easterly winds.

"So that's the potential for a good bit of snow."

These conditions are set to continue into Thursday with predictions of "strong easterly winds and highs of just 1 to 4 degrees".

Dublin Fire Brigade are advising people to "walk like a penguin" - have a nice wide base, toes pointed outwards and take small steps - to wear sensible shoes and keep your hands out of your pockets so you can put them out in you fall.

According to Inner City Helping Homeless up to 80 people are still sleeping rough in Dublin despite the cold weather.

The charity's CEO, Anthony Flynn, has called on for emergency measures from Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy.

He said: "Although we've seen a 55% reduction in the number of people that are sleeping rough through the Christmas period and into January, we still have up to 80 people a night that are sleeping rough across the capital."

In Cork city, 120km of roads were gritted, with approximately 80 tonnes of salt spread. Crews will be kept on standby to respond if required in the coming days.

"All footpaths on city bridges were gritted prior to the snowfall," a spokesperson for Cork City Council said.

"Cork City Council has a defined salting route which prioritises main traffic routes, bus routes and other areas such as those adjacent to hospitals and schools. Footpaths and bridges are also salted in the city centre in areas of greatest pedestrian movement. It is not possible to treat all footpaths in the city."

Poor grip in many areas prompted a large number of traffic issues, including many on higher ground on the northside of the city.

With the conditions likely to remain challenging for motorists in the coming days, the Road Safety Authority (RSA) warned all road users to take extra care when using roads. Motorists are asked to ensure that their vehicle is winter ready and to remove all snow and ice before departing, while cyclists and pedestrians are advised to wear bright clothing to ensure that they are seen, to wear appropriate footwear and to be wary of the danger of ice.

A snow-covered Cork city this morning. Pic: Larry Cummins
A snow-covered Cork city this morning. Pic: Larry Cummins

Further school closures across the country are expected in the coming days as conditions spread nationwide. The Department of Education confirmed that it is aware of a number of schools have already closed but that it is up to the school's discretion to decide on closures depending on the severity of the weather.

"The Department’s advice to schools is to remain vigilant in the event of adverse weather conditions. Schools should monitor weather forecasts in order to be prepared for any severe weather which may affect the school," a spokesperson for the department said.

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