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Cold Snap

Status Orange alert for most of country as freezing fog to persist into evening

It will remain very cold throughout the week with widespread frost and ice.

LAST UPDATE | Dec 12th 2022, 8:48 PM

TEMPERATURES ARE SET to remain below freezing in some areas of the country this evening as the cold spell continues. 

A nationwide Status Orange alert for low temperatures and ice was in place until midday today. 

Met Éireann also issued a fresh orange warning for freezing fog covering most of the country until midnight tonight. The following areas will be affected: 

  • Connacht
  • Carlow 
  • Dublin 
  • Kildare
  • Kilkenny 
  • Laois
  • Longford 
  • Louth 
  • Meath
  • Offaly 
  • Westmeath 
  • Cavan 
  • Donegal 
  • Monaghan 
  • Clare
  • Limerick 
  • Tipperary 

According to the forecaster the freezing fog will be dense in places and “will persist through the afternoon and into tonight, leading to very hazardous driving conditions”. 

FOG ON M7  2A0987 Traffic on the M7 Motorway in Kildare on Friday. Eamonn Farrell Eamonn Farrell

The National Emergency Coordination Group – which includes Met Éireann and all the relevant government departments and agencies – met this morning to discuss the current conditions, which are expected to remain until at least Friday. 

Following the meeting, the group warned that while public transport will still operate, services may be slower than normal.

While most schools will remain open as normal, a small number have closed today due to hazardous local conditions.

There are also outreach teams in place across the country checking with rough sleepers and encouraging them to take offers of indoor shelter, with beds available in Dublin and other cities and towns around the country.

The group said that “anybody who needs shelter will be provided with it”.

People are being advised to monitor social media and the websites of transport providers for any local diversions or other changes. 

Gritters were out in force on primary routes overnight as temperatures dropped below -5 in parts of the country. 

Widespread gritting is set to continue in the coming days, with local authorities also able to deploy ploughs if needed.

Dublin City Council said it will be gritting 300km of the City’s main roads and gritting footpaths at a “number of priority locations”.

However, the statement warned that it “will not be possible to treat all roads and footpaths”, so the council has advised road users to exercise caution over the coming days.

The latest forecast for the day from Met Éireann says it will be calm, bright and bitterly cold. Wintry showers will also continue in the northwest, with a few moving into eastern and southern counties during the afternoon and evening.

It will reach up to four degrees in some coastal areas but will remain below zero for much of the north midlands. 

Water safety

It will remain very cold throughout the week with widespread frost and ice and occasional wintry showers near the coasts. 

With the icy weather warnings in place throughout the country, the Coast Guard, RNLI and Water Safety Ireland have issued a joint water safety appeal urging people to be aware of the added danger this week when on or near the water.

It came following the deaths of three children in England who fell through ice into a lake during play.

The statement advised that due to the freezing temperatures, many inland bodies of water have frozen over at canals, lakes, ponds and flooded areas.

“As the thickness of this ice can vary greatly the strong advice is to stay off the ice,” the joint statement said. 

“Be extra vigilant while walking beside bodies of water as walkways and paths can become extremely slippery and unsafe when icy. Keep pets and young children away from the edges.”

It added that people should “avoid lakes that are covered or partially covered in ice”. 

“When you go open water swimming, it is very important to acclimatise by entering the water slowly and allowing time for your body to get used to the cold,” it continued.

To help yourself acclimatise, splash the cold water on your neck and face and warm up afterwards by putting on dry clothes quickly and wear a warm hat as soon as you get out.

Water Safety Ireland’s Deputy CEO Roger Sweeney said children are naturally curious about walking on ice “but parents should emphasize that it is not safe as the thickness can vary”, so adults should “provide uninterrupted, responsible supervision beside any waterway”. 

The public is further advised that if they see anybody in trouble on the water or along the coast or think they are in trouble, then they should dial 112 or use Marine vhf Radio Channel 16 and ask for the Coast Guard.

Speaking to Morning Ireland earlier, Met Éireann’s Gerry Murphy said the lowest temperature overnight had been in Athenry in Co Galway where it reached -7.2 degrees.

Murphy added that parts of Cork and South Kerry could experience wintry showers by tomorrow. So far the wintry precipitation has been confined mostly to the east coast and northwest.

A widespread snow event is not expected. 

Air travel 

Prospective air passengers are being advised to check with their airlines before heading to catch their flight.

Flights were suspended at Stansted Airport in London earlier after the airport was forced to close the runway due to bad weather, and knock-on impacts are expected. 

In a statement this evening, daa spokesperson Graeme McQueen said that “with some potential for sleet at Dublin Airport this evening, our runways and taxiways have been pre-emptively sprayed”. 

As of 7pm this evening, 73 flights have been cancelled at Dublin Airport; 41 outbound and 32 inbound.

This was “due mainly to poor weather conditions at UK airports,” McQueen said. 

Speaking after yesterday’s emergency committee meeting, Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien said the group would continue to monitor the ongoing weather conditions.

“I would advise everybody to monitor national and local media, including social media, over the coming days to keep up to date with information regarding the developing weather situation. 

“Above all, make sure you stay warm and safe and keep in touch with vulnerable or elderly neighbours.”

He added: “The message to people is that life will go on as normal, everything will remain open, but we just want people to remain careful, especially on the road”.

He also said supply to the energy grid is stable and that he has received a “positive outlook” from EirGrid and Gas Networks Ireland.

Speaking this morning on Morning Ireland, O’Brien said that while schools would stay open there would be discretion at a local level depending on specific weather conditions.

The coordination group advised in a statement: 

  • Driving conditions will be hazardous with black ice, freezing temperatures, and freezing fog. Slow down and be aware of other road users allow extra time and drive with caution.
  • Take extra care while walking: footpaths etc. can be extremely hazardous / slippery due to ice.
  • Check on vulnerable and isolated neighbours.
  • Keep your phone charged and take it with you on all journeys. In an emergency dial 999 or 112. 

Additional reporting by Tadgh McNally and Hayley Halpin

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