Weather warning: Heavy rain and melting snow result in ‘dangerous travel conditions’ for motorists

Status yellow ice warning for entire country in effect until 9am Saturday; snow earlier today caused widespread disruption

Snow falling in Dublin this morning. Photographs: Tom Honan, Brian Lawless, Leon Farrell, Colin Keegan

17:47

Many areas of Ireland were covered in an unexpected blanket of snow on Friday, a weather event forecasters in Met Éireann said took them by surprise.

There has been disruption to transport and a series of weather warnings remains in place for Friday and into Saturday.

Main points

  • Irish Rail said its Dart, Intercity and Commuter services are now fully operational, though there are likely to be “knock-on” delays
  • There was widespread traffic disruption in the Greater Dublin Area throughout Friday, with collisions reported on the M1, M11 and the M50 being shut for close to an hour on Friday afternoon. Motorists have been advised to be cautious, as the heavy rain and melting snow have resulted in surface flooding and “dangerous travel conditions”
  • As of 4pm, most of Dublin Bus services were back to being fully operational. However, route 44 is operating to and from Kilternan only and is unable to serve Enniskerry and Sandyford Village. The transport operator also advised to allow for possible delays
  • Dublin Airport is “operating as normal”
  • A status yellow ice warning is in place for the entire country as of 6pm this evening until 9am on Saturday. A separate status yellow rain warning for Dublin, Louth, Meath and Wicklow is in place until 3am on Saturday. An earlier yellow snow-ice warning for Carlow, Dublin, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, Offaly, Wexford, Wicklow, and Munster has expired
  • Some schools were closed in counties Cavan, Longford and Roscommon earlier today
  • In these pictures, you can see exactly what the country looked like beneath the unexpected blanket of snow
  • Ronan McGreevy looks at how Met Éireann was taken by surprise by the heavy snowfall on Friday

18:52

That’s it for today, folks. Thanks for following our live coverage throughout the day. You can read a synopsis of everything that happened, as well as the forecast for the weekend here.


17:13

Video journalist Enda O’Dowd spoke to homeless asylum seekers at the International Protection Office in Dublin City Centre.


17:09

While there’s been widely acknowledged heavy snow and sleet, there has also been heavy rainfall in some areas around the country.


16:48

Here is the latest update on train delays, according to Irish Rail:


16:33

As much of the snowfall begins to end, and the blanket of white lining our streets begins to melt away, motorists are being advised to be cautious while out on the roads.

According to Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), there is flooding on the M50 and M1. There is also debris reported on the M7, all of which will affect traffic.

While public transport has largely resumed to full services, operators are warning of potential delays.

The sudden onset of snow and sleet mean many road surfaces are untreated today, resulting in potentially dangerous travelling conditions.

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) has issued advice for drivers in light of the icy road conditions.

Motorists should clear windows and mirrors of any ice, carry a screen scraper and de-icer; and avoid too much steering, harsh braking and acceleration.

The RSA also said it takes longer to stop in icy conditions.

“Manoeuvre gently, slow down and increase your braking distance or ‘safe space’ by leaving an extra distance between you and the vehicle in front,” it advised.

“Use the highest gear possible to avoid wheel spin. Select a low gear when travelling downhill especially if through bends.”


16:28

And it’s not just the children who got a day off school who enjoyed the unexpected snow. President Michael D Higgins’ dog Misneach was also a big fan.


16:17

Four games in the League of Ireland have been postponed due to heavy snowfall, particularly in the east of country, on Friday.

David Gorman has all of the details in this article.


15:57

Not many people went to bed on Thursday night expecting to wake up on to a winter wonderland – including the national forecaster.

How did Met Éireann manage to get it wrong? Forecaster Brandon Creagh said they had actually issued a yellow weather warning for eastern counties at 4.48pm on Thursday covering the counties of Dublin, Louth, Meath and Wicklow from 3am on Friday morning to 3am on Saturday morning.

Read the full story by Ronan McGreevy on how Met Éireann was caught by surprise by Friday morning’s cold snap here.


15:44

Rail services are now operating fully but there are “knock-on delays”


15:27

There are now 1,103 international protection applicants without State-provided accommodation, according to the latest departmental figures.

Many of these individuals are sleeping rough on the streets and in tents near the International Protection Office in Dublin city centre. Pictures shared across social media showed many of these tents collapsed in the snow the capital experienced on Friday morning.


14:48

14:32

Longford County Council has warned that some roads in the county are partially blocked due to the early morning snow.

Snow ploughs are being deployed to these locations on a priority basis, with national and regional routes being addressed first.

The N55 and the R194 appear to be the worst affected by the snow, while the N4 is passable but care is required.

Longford County Council is urging people not to make any unnecessary journeys today, until road conditions have improved and for those who must travel, please proceed with caution and allow extra time for your journey.


13:45

13:29

Met Éireann senior forecaster Gerry Murphy has said they could in hindsight have issued an orange level snow and ice warning.

The extent of the snow took Met Éireann by surprise. He pointed out that Met Éireann had issued a forecast stating that a band of rain, sleet and snow would move southwards over the country.

The snow was forecast for higher ground only with rain and sleet falling on lower ground, but it became apparent overnight that there would be more snow than anything else. A weather warning for snow and ice was issued at 3am on Friday morning.

“It was very short notice and that wasn’t much comfort for people commuting this morning,” he admitted on RTÉ's News at One programme.

“The magnitude of the snow that did occur was more than was in our warning.”

He explained that an orange level warning would be where three centimetres fell within six hours, five centimetres within 12 hours and higher for 24 hours.

“What we have seen in some places would possibly, on the basis of hindsight, indicates that some places would have warranted a snow warning because a lot of snow fell in a short period of time, but that’s with the benefit of hindsight.”

Mr Murphy reiterated that it was “notoriously tricky” to forecast when there is a mixture of rain, sleet and snow as to what will fall. In some cases yellow snow warnings have been issued which have not materialised.


12:03

Dublin Airport says its flights are running to schedule, but one passenger said her flight to Malaga has been delayed by more than three hours because the crew was waiting for the de-icing machine.

Met Éireann has now updated its weather warning to include all 26 counties and the weather warnings will last, in most places, until 6pm this evening.

A status-yellow ice warning is in place for the State until 6pm on Friday to 9am on Saturday.

A status-yellow snow-ice warning is now in place for Carlow, Dublin, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, Offaly, Wexford, Wicklow and all of Munster. It is place until 6pm.

A status-yellow rain warning is in place for Dublin, Louth, Meath and Wicklow until 3am on Saturday.

Fine Gael election candidate Cllr James Geoghegan has said Met Éireann’s response to getting the forecast wrong this morning has not been good enough.

“Nobody expects our national meteorological service to get it right every time, but when forecasts and warnings are understated, it’s important we learn from it,” Cllr Geoghegan said.

“It’s a bit a glib for Met Éireann to say on the radio this morning that it didn’t have a crystal ball when traffic is at standstill with road and footpath conditions in a treacherous state.

“Snow in Dublin or Ireland generally is a rare event, but it can be as dangerous for road users as the risks of a falling tree from high winds, which is why Orange weather warnings are issued.

“This time, however, we need to acknowledge that the system has failed. Just like freak snow events of recent times, there is chaos on the M50, trains had to be cancelled and there is no grit on our footpaths.”


12:01

Dublin Bus says its services are operating, but are subject to delays. There are diversions in a number of places.

Route 44 is operating to and from Kilternan only. Unable to serve Enniskerry, Larkhill and Sandyford Village.

Route 40 is unable to serve Cardiffsbridge Road, diverted via N2 in both directions.

Route 46a Towards Phoenix Park Unable to serve Foxrock Avenue, Foxrock Park, Deansgrange Village and Kill Lane.

Route 123 is operating to and from Ballybough Bridge/Summerhill only. Unable to serve the Marino area.


11:53

Series of weather warnings in place

Met Éireann has put a series of weather warnings in place on Friday. In Northern Ireland a yellow snow warning is in place for Armagh, Fermanagh, Tyrone and Derry from 3am on Friday to 3am on Saturday.


11:15

‘It wasn’t clear until this morning’: Forecasters taken by surprise

Met Éireann has admitted it was taken by surprise when Ireland woke to heavy falls of snow in places on Friday morning.

Many parts of the north of the country faced travel disruption with a number of school closures. The problems were most acute in the Greater Dublin Area with long delays on routes into the city and disruption to Bus Éireann and Iarnród Éireann services.

Met Éireann issued a yellow weather warning at 5pm on Thursday for heavy rain with some sleet and snow, but only on higher ground.

“It wasn’t clear until this morning that the snow would be as heavy as it is and as widespread as it is,” Met Éireann forecaster Brandon Creagh told the Today with Claire Byrne Show on RTÉ Radio 1.

“The models had the freezing levels too high up over hills and higher areas, but it turns out that because of the complex dynamics in the upper air that pushed the snow down further and that’s what led to lying snow in many areas.”

“Snow is notoriously the most difficult to predict in Ireland. Maybe if we had a crystal ball we would have issued an orange warning, but if we over-warn, people won’t believe warnings when they come,” said Mr Creagh.

Met Éireann on Friday issued a yellow-level ice warning for tonight and into Saturday morning for all of Ireland


10:42

March, to quote the well-known weather proverb, has come in like a lion as the (meteorological) season of spring begins. But if you think it’s snowy where you are, have a gander at what it’s like up in the Wicklow Mountains.


10:37

There are many pictures of the snow coming in from around the country. Here is a selection of the best ones so far


09:05

The unexpectedly heavy snow caused widespread traffic disruption in the Greater Dublin Area on Friday morning with congestion on all major routes into the city and collisions on the M1 and M11.

Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) spokesman Sean O’Neill said the M50 was particularly congested in the Dundrum area following a road incident. The full winter-maintenance programme has been put into operation.

“This has been primarily an east coast event. It has been very localised,” he said.

The Dart was suspended between Sandymount and Blackrock with Dublin Bus accepting rail tickets, Irish Rail said.

There was also significant disruption to Sligo/Maynooth/Phoenix Park services between Glasnevin and Connolly.

Wicklow County Council said Enniskerry and surrounding areas should be avoided if possible as road conditions were “quite dangerous”, while the R761 Bray-Greystones Road at Windgates was “blocked with stuck traffic”.

Some Bus Éireann services to and from Dublin and Donegal and Cavan were cancelled because of bad weather along with services between Cavan and Dundalk.

There are reports of schools in Cavan, Leitrim and Longford been closed due to the weather.

Motorists have been advised to take extra care on the roads.

The rain, sleet and snow will move southwards across the rest of the country throughout the day falling mostly as rain in the afternoon except on higher ground. It will be cold for the first day of the meteorological spring with temperatures of between 3 and 7 degrees.


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