Met Éireann: No ‘big freeze’ forecast

No big freezes or major floods are expected this winter, with forecasters predicting nothing out of the ordinary.

As the Government taskforce on emergency planning launched its third annual winter-ready campaign, the head of forecasting at Met Éireann, Gerald Fleming, said there was no reason to believe that this winter would be “particularly severe”.

“There is nothing in the runes to suggest that it will be anything other than a normal winter, bringing its share of wet weather, windy weather, and some frosty nights,” he said.

Despite his prediction, the taskforce will have salt stocks of 210,000 tonnes in storage to treat the nation’s roads, and the motorway operators will have an additional 30,000.

Justice Minister Alan Shatter, the taskforce chairman, said there would be “enough salt to keep every fish and chip shop around the country operating for over a decade”.

He pointed out this compares with the 130,000 tonnes that were used in the big freeze of 2010.

“Drivers can do a lot to avoid difficulties when bad conditions prevail by taking the advice being issued, particularly from Met Éireann and An Garda Síochána.”

He said he had received assurances from Met Éireann that severe winters occur roughly once every decade but he insisted it is not possible to determine with any certainty what the long-term winter weather will be like.

The winter-ready campaign is made up of information from government departments, the gardaí, the HSE, local authorities, and transport providers.

It includes a dedicated website, a booklet, and a Twitter account.

Environment Minister Phil Hogan insisted that the “whole Government” approach would ensure authorities are well prepared to deal with unexpected, severe weather.

He said: “Drawing on the experience of previous years and lessons learned, both central and local government are prepared and ready to respond to incidents of severe weather and to restore normal society’s functioning.

“The generic emergency management system is now in place and as well as our experience, exercises dealing with weather-related emergency scenarios have been conducted.”


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