Northern Ireland may have missed the worst of the wintry weather so far, but forecasters are warning that temperatures are set to plummet as the week continues.
Although today is set to be bright and sunny, with temperatures at around 3C-4C, commuters can expect to wake up to sleet and snow and a bitterly cold morning tomorrow.
“Today will be quite dry and sunny with some hazy sunshine,” said forecaster Rob Hutchinson from the MeteoGroup weather agency.
“Overnight tonight however it looks like a band of rain is going to approach from the north-west which will turn quite readily to sleet and snow as it crosses the province.”
The sleet and snow is expected to continue into Thursday across much of Northern Ireland, with a bitterly cold wind adding to the deep chill in the air.
“After that the snow showers don’t look like they will recede too much, so it is quite a wintry picture really,” said Mr Hutchinson.
Last night motorists were warned to avoid the road between Hilltown and Kilkeel in Co Down as it was impassable due to snow.
In the Republic meanwhile, many roads and schools were closed for a second day running yesterday as Siberian winds brought more snow showers to most parts of the country.
Commuters in Dublin were being urged to head for home “sooner rather than later” yesterday following a particularly heavy snowfall during the afternoon.
In Mitchelstown in north Cork, the combination of snow and icy road conditions resulted in delighted children being sent home early from class.
Hillwalkers were warned to exercise maximum caution while out on the Galtee and Knockmealdown Mountains because of the dangers posed by snow drifts and ice, while hundreds of learner drivers had their tests cancelled at centres in Dublin and Kildare.
Flights from Ireland to several snow-bound European capital cities resumed yesterday following dozens of cancellations on Monday.
Just two flights from Dublin Airport to London’s City and Gatwick Airports were cancelled yesterday while there were small delays of up to 40 minutes on other flights.
And across Britain an estimated one in five workers took a day off because of weather-related transport or childcare problems.
Stephen Alambritis, from the Federation of Small Businesses, said the economy could lose as much £3.5bn this week as a result of the disruption and added: “One of the world’s biggest economies should not be grinding to a halt.”
Four teenage girls were injured, two of them critically, while sledging in south Yorkshire. It is believed the girls were sledging in a field which had been fenced off to use for cattle grazing.
They were thought to have been using an improvised sledge made out of a piece of metal.