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Dublin: 5 °C Tuesday 12 December, 2017
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Motorists warned to slow down as snow-ice alert remains in place

The weather is thankfully expected to get a bit milder over the coming days.

90208940_90208940 A Garda car in a long line of traffic in Co Kildare during the cold snap of December 2010 Source: Eamonn Farrell/Rollingnews.ie

Updated 4.40pm

LAST NIGHT WAS the coldest one the country has experienced since last winter, and  motorists, in particular, have been asked to take care.

A status yellow snow-ice warning is in place for Ireland until tomorrow night.

Met Éireann has said there will be scattered snow showers across the country today, becoming mainly confined to western and northern areas tonight and tomorrow. Icy patches are also expected.

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) has issued the following advice for road users, when driving in icy and snowy conditions:

  • Clear your windows and mirrors before you set out, carry a screen scraper and de-icer. Do not use hot water on the windscreen as it can crack the glass.
  • If the road looks polished or glossy it could be black ice – it’s nearly transparent and can occur especially in sheltered areas on roads, under trees and adjacent to high walls.
  • Use dipped headlights at all times of poor visibility to ensure you are seen by other motorists.
  • Watch out for vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists and allow extra space.
  • Remove all snow from your vehicle before commencing your journey. Snow left on the roof will become loose and can drop onto the windscreen during braking, thereby causing sudden and severe restriction to your vision. It can also fall off during your drive and cause injury to pedestrians or a reflex action by another driver.
  • In snowy and icy conditions slow down, use all controls delicately and leave extra distance between you and the vehicle in front. Avoid over-steering and harsh braking and harsh acceleration. Use the highest gear possible to avoid wheel spin. Select a low gear when travelling downhill especially if driving through bends.
  • Do not drive based on the tail-lights of the vehicle in front. This can give a false sense of security and you will be too close to be able to brake safely. In heavy fog, turn off your radio and let down your driver’s window a fraction, so as you can hear other traffic.
  • With sunny spells also forecast for certain parts of the country, drivers are reminded of the danger posed by sun glare. Minimise risk by wearing sun glasses, ensuring your windscreen is clear of grease or grime inside and out, and adding windshield washer fluid to the water in the reservoir.
  • The best thing to do in extremely bad weather is to stay off the road. Take heed of warnings not to go out and travel only if absolutely necessary. This leaves the emergency services free to deal with real emergencies.

Meanwhile, pedestrians and cyclists have been advised to not “underestimate the danger of ice” while walking on footpaths and in public places, or entering and exiting vehicles.

“Many slips and falls happen in places people regard as safe and secure, typically outside their front door, on the doorstep, on the path or while getting out of the car. Take extra care,” the RSA said in a statement.

Hazardous

“We’ve had a very cold night,” Met Éireann forecaster Gerald Fleming told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland earlier, adding that the torrential rain seen across the country earlier in the week had rendered conditions hazardous.

“It’s really a big change from what we’ve had over the course of November, which has been an exceptionally mild month – but this time last year we were looking at temperatures of minus seven so it’s not unprecedented by any means,” he said.

Still, as we go into late November and into December it’s just a seasonal risk.

Fleming suggested that the weather warnings should be particularly heeded by motorists. “Be very careful, especially on back roads,” he said.

The main roads will have been gritted and salted, but always in these conditions it’s good to keep your distance and keep your speed that little bit lower.

There is some good news however – the veteran forecaster says there’s “no indication” that we’re heading for a protracted cold snap, like that seen in 2010 which lasted for a month between November and December. He did add that “at this stage we just can’t say what it’ll be like coming up to Christmas”.

But what about a White Christmas?

“I never expect a white Christmas,” said Gerald.

Oh well.

Flood relief

Meanwhile, in Mountmellick and Portarlington in Co Laois, the Defence Forces have deployed 33 personnel and five 4×4 vehicles to assist with flood relief works.

The two towns have been the site of a deal of flooding since the heavy rains seen earlier in the week, with some families having to be evacuated from their homes as a result.

The deployed personnel will “bring specialist equipment to assist in flood defence, mobility and clean up taskings” a spokesperson for the Defence Forces said.

With reporting by Órla Ryan

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