SEVERAL PEOPLE HAVE had to be rescued from their cars after becoming trapped during the storm.
People had been advised to remain indoors from 4pm yesterday, where possible.
In a statement, An Garda Síochána asked motorists “to avoid unnecessary journeys”.
“Many roads remain impassable and local authorities are prioritising national routes. If you must travel and become stuck, contact emergencies services,” gardaí advised.
This morning, the National Emergency Coordination Group (NECG) withdrew the public safety advice to shelter indoors, saying: “The blizzard conditions have passed.”
However, the group noted: “Conditions are and will remain very difficult and the public are advised continue to exercise high levels of caution for their own safety in the extreme cold, accumulated snow and icy conditions underfoot.”
People who are stuck in their vehicles have been advised to keep the engine running until help arrives.
Tom Murphy of the Garda Roads Policing Unit told RTE Radio 1′s Morning Ireland that many motorists had not heeded the warnings to remain indoors, causing “a lot of difficulties for rescue crews and hampering the efforts of snow-sweepers”.
“There was a lot of drifting of snow in Lucan and Tallaght and we are still trying to identify if people are still stranded in cars.
I am aware of one incident where the snow drifted so much that the only way we could identify the car was to ask the woman to place her handbag on top of her car.
Asked what excuses people had for driving in the dangerous conditions, Murphy added: “I’ve been told families were out with their kids to see the snow. There were people at the back of Dublin Airport getting stranded, increasing the pressure on rescue services to deal with them.
“I would ask, on behalf of rescue groups, not to use any vehicles this morning unless it’s an emergency. While city centre might look clear, there are no guarantees your journey would be clear of snow.”
Putting people’s lives at risk
Transport Minister Shane Ross also appealed to people to only make “the most necessary of journeys”.
“I have been advised that road conditions are extremely treacherous and while local authorities are doing extraordinary work clearing snow and salting surfaces, obviously they will concentrate on the major arteries. Therefore, even though the advice to ‘stay at home’ has been lifted, I would strongly advise people to take only the most necessary of journeys.
Please do not use the roads today unless you absolutely have to.
Ross said many roads are still impassable and “those that have been cleared still pose a significant risk to drivers”.
“During the night some motorists became trapped in their cars and we would hope that people today will use common sense and not risk their own safety and that of our emergency services. If your journey is vital please ensure that you pack safety supplies into your car.
“However, I appeal to anyone who is thinking of making a journey to stop, ask themselves if they really need to get into that car, and if possible, decide against it. Remember, it’s not just your own life you’re risking. Keep warm, keep safe, keep indoors and if you can, relax and enjoy an unexpected long weekend,” Ross said.
David Kavanagh of Dublin Fire Brigade told Morning Ireland the fire service experienced a very busy night.
“As the winds got up we started getting a few call-outs. About 1.45am we had a major power outage, we dealt with 214 ambulance cases.
Ambulances were stuck in the snow. Some of the crews dug themselves out.
“We had a number of calls around country areas. We did have several people stuck in cars who needed help. A number of people were stuck around the Julianstown area off the M1.”
Sean O’Neill from Transport Infrastructure Ireland told Newstalk Breakfast that TII staff found a number of people stranded in their cars and brought “to the nearest hotel and left them there … that’s all we can do”. Speaking to Ryan Tubridy later, O’Neill called people who drove in the snow without good reason “knuckleheads”.
Gardaí and the Defence Forces were among those to help essential staff like healthcare employees get to work during the storm.
A status red snow-ice warning will remain in place for Munster, Leinster and Galway until 6pm. A status orange snow-ice warning will be in place for Cavan, Monaghan, Donegal, Leitrim, Mayo, Roscommon and Sligo until 6pm.
With reporting by Garreth MacNamee