Snow blankets a rural road in the Wicklow Mountains on Monday. PA
Severe Weather

New Status Orange alert issued as temperatures set to plunge for next two nights

Tonight is to be bitterly cold and a weather warning is due to kick in for 19 counties.

LAST UPDATE | Dec 14th 2022, 4:45 PM

A STATUS ORANGE low temperature/ ice warning will come into effect from 6pm as widespread temperatures below -5 degrees are expected tonight, leading to severe frost and ice. 

On RTÉ Radio’s Morning Ireland today, meteorologist Joanna Donnelly said that temperatures would drop as low as -11 degrees in isolated areas.

“Temperatures aren’t likely to rise above freezing for much of the morning, so it’ll be afternoon before temperatures creep over zero and they’ll fall quite quickly by 4 o’clock,” she added.

The counties impacted by today’s Status Orange warning are: Carlow, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, Longford, Louth, Meath, Offaly, Westmeath, Cavan, Monaghan, Clare, Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Tipperary, Galway, Leitrim, Roscommon. 

The warning is in place until noon tomorrow. Gardaí have urged road users to be “extra vigilant” for the remainder of the week. 

In a tweet yesterday evening, gardaí urged drivers to slow down and leave a greater gap from the vehicle in front than usual. They also reminded road users to adhere to speed limits and avoid harsh braking and acceleration.

The rest of the country remains under a status yellow low temperature/ice warning as widespread sharp to severe frosts and icy stretches are expected. 

Many counties have experienced freezing temperatures from this morning. Castlederg in Tyrone reached lows of -9.5 degrees in the early hours of today, while the mercury sank to -7.5 degrees at same time in Ballyshannon in Donegal. 

Another Status Orange low temperature/ice warning has been issued for all counties except Donegal, which will kick in at 6pm tomorrow and remain in place until midday on Friday. 

Tonight will see widespread temperatures as low as -7 degrees, and in some areas several degrees lower. 

Temperatures at coasts will fall between -1 and +1 degrees. 

Tomorrow morning will see temperatures remain below freezing, with some parts of the midlands remaining sub-zero throughout the day. 

In the afternoon, temperatures will rise to between 0 and +2 degrees. 

Nationally in the days ahead, the cold weather is to continue, and parts of Ulster will see snow on Thursday night. 

There is a good deal of uncertainty in the forecast from Saturday night, but it is expected that daytime temperatures will creep up to 2 to 4 degrees, and higher along the coasts at the weekend. 

Met Éireann says that current indications suggests that an increasing  southerly wind will bring rain and a spell of milder weather for a time next week. 

Rough sleepers

Concerns for the homeless remain prevalent as low temperatures are set to persist, with many outreach groups  “doing all they can” to ensure people sleeping rough take up offers of emergency accommodation. 

During the extremely cold weather period in March of 2018, dubbed ‘The Beast from the East’, some homeless people had to be sectioned under the Mental Health Act after refusing to enter emergency accommodation, according to reports at the time.

Speaking to The Journal, Paul Sheehan of Cork Simon Community explained how trauma and distrust of institutions that can prevent people from engaging with outreach services.

Sheehan said that Cork Simon Community has created “as much space as we possibly can to make sure anybody who wants to come in from the cold has an opportunity to do so”, adding that building a sense of trust with rough sleepers is “slow and steady work”. 

“Our outreach team spend a lot of time trying to build up a trusting relationship with that group of people. Sometimes that can take months or longer and that work never ends,” he said. 

It can be just making sure they’re there every day checking in on them. That might lead to them accepting some warm clothing or some sleeping bags, particularly at this time of year.
He added: “That might progress to engaging in conversation, being a little more open, and obviously there’s a huge sense of relief when somebody does finally decide to come in out of the cold, or any weather really, and avail of the services because that really can be the start of somebody’s journey out of homelessness.”

When asked under what circumstances someone would be sectioned if they refuse to take up offers of emergency accommodation, Sheehan says it is a decision Cork Simon Community would not make on its own.

“That would need a broader input,” he told The Journal. “We are certainly working very closely with local authority here and with HSE and we’d be in touch with the gardaí to make sure they know who’s out and sleeping rough and just to keep an eye out for them.

“We have a HSE primary health care team based in our services and they are made aware of who’s sleeping rough. So if that decision has to be made or would have to be made at some point, it would have to be made by everybody working together.”

Additional reporting from Sarah McGuinness and Diarmuid Pepper. 

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