Although the scene outside is like a Winter Wonderland, Ireland is now heading into its fourth week of the cold snap and is still battling the ‘Arctic-like’ weather conditions. The weather has played havoc as airports and schools close, roads remain impassable and travel services face severe disruption.
For the last 15 years or so, Ireland has had mild, wet winters, then out-of-the-blue after torrential flooding, we find ourselves in the midst of one of the coldest spells in 30 years! And while Met Eireann predict the weather will ‘thaw’ next weekend, other sources have predicted that the bitterly cold weather will last until late February or early March! The reasoning behind this we are told is that, when the weather is in the grip of an icy spell, it tends to stay stationary and stabilise for a long period of time.
According to an article in yesterday’s Sunday Independent, Dr. Kieran Hickey, a lecturer in Physical Geography, agrees with this and says that it has happened before, so what’s to stop it happening again? He states that in the winter of 1635, a great freeze lasted from January and well into Feburary. In the winter of 1739/1740, the cold spell lasted until May! In 1947, it lasted from January to mid March, while in December 1962 a cold snap took over the country and remained until mid-March! So cold was this particular winter, the River Shannon could be crossed by foot at one point near Limerick city!
A prolonged cold snap may not happen this time round but given our history, it is important that the country prepare for the unexpected. Clearly the Government were not prepared for the present cold spell with levels of salt supplies dangerously low in most local authority areas.
The weather has played havoc with the day to day running of the country. The Minister For Education has ordered all schools (both primary and secondary) to remain closed until next Thursday. Some third level colleges have also closed. Due to the heavy snowfall in the south of the country overnight Cork Airport is currently closed but hopes to re-open later today. Kerry Airport is operating as normal. Passengers are advised to check with their airlines prior to departure.
Bus Eireann state that the majority of bus routes throughout Ireland are running as normal with the exception of services in Cork and Kerry which are facing severe disruption. Check out the Bus Eireann website for latest updates.
Iarnrod Eireann say trains are operating normally throughout the country although there are some revisions to the Galway and Waterford services. Check out the Iarnrod Eireann Twitter page or Iarnrod Eireann website for the lastest travel updates.
The NRA have strongly advised motorists not to travel unless necessary. If you do have to make a journey then we suggest you check out the AA Roadwatch website. They have the latest National Summary Report on the roads all over Ireland and in Dublin city. You can also view a Live Traffic map of Ireland which will show you road closures and dangerous areas to avoid. They also have the very lastest travel alerts and a twitter page. Before you set out on your journey, make sure you have a look at the AA Roadwatch for the latest road updates and get to your destination safely.