Belfast Telegraph

Irish people urged to stay indoors as blizzard strikes

The entire country has been put under the highest weather warning, a red alert, as the worst snow in 35 years sweeps north across the island.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has urged people to remain indoors as blizzard conditions sweep Ireland.

The entire country has been put under the highest weather warning, a red alert, as the worst snow in 35 years spreads north across the island.

Severe storms are expected to strike the south coast from 4pm on Thursday afternoon as polar air brought by the so-called Beast From The East weather system mixes with 100km/h gales from Storm Emma.

“The risk to life and limb presented by severe weather conditions should not be underestimated by anyone,” Mr Varadkar said.

The forecast is for zero visibility, deep pockets of snow and “white-outs”.

(PA Graphics)

“It’s not safe to be outside in such conditions. No-one should be on the roads,” the Taoiseach said.

“We are asking everyone to be at home and safe by 4pm today and to remain indoors until the severe weather has passed. I’ll repeat nobody should be on the roads after 4pm today and everyone should be in home or indoors by 4pm.”

The red weather alert issued by Met Eireann is in place in Munster and Leinster, covering the south and east of the country, until midday on Friday.

Connaught in the west and the border counties with Northern Ireland will be affected until 6am.

Temperatures are expected to be below minus four and there will be strong gale force north east winds with the snowfalls.

Transport Minister Shane Ross offered unambiguous advice on travelling through the storm: “Don’t do it.”

Dublin Bus, Bus Eireann, Irish Rail and Luas tram services are cancelled until Saturday, and all schools and colleges are closed.

Bride-to-be Emma O’Kane, 32, and her fiance Chris Butler, from Lurgan, Co Armagh, were forced to call off their wedding at Darver Castle in Dundalk, Co Louth, on Thursday morning, just hours before the ceremony, because of the dangerous weather conditions.

She said: “The weather was fine last night but when I woke up this morning it was like Siberia.

“We were in the middle of hair and make-up when my mum phoned and said the Castle had been on the phone and said how treacherous it was.”

Ireland’s National Emergency Co-ordination Group met before the worst of the weather hit and chairman Sean Hogan said the priority was public safety.

“Bear in mind what we are facing, this is nature coming in,” he said.

“We haven’t seen these conditions for a long time, even if we had we don’t know how things will get repeated. This is a unique set of circumstances.”

All flights from Dublin Airport are set to stop during the worst of the storm. Aer Lingus and Ryanair will not have any flights from Dublin until Saturday morning.

Ryanair cancelled all services to and from the following airports: East Midlands, Leeds Bradford, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Cork and Kerry.

Shannon Airport remains operational but there have been many cancellations while Cork Airport was shut.

More than 100 soldiers have been deployed to help ensure key staff can get to hospitals and to house-bound patients.

Evelyn Cusack, senior forecaster with Met Eireann, said a “big improvement” is expected over the weekend, but warned: “There is a high degree of uncertainty of how this storm system is going to behave.”

The severe winter conditions resulted from the combination of the Beast From The East polar air system and Storm Emma moving in from the south.

It is expected to hit Ireland harder than anywhere else, and it is predicted to be the worst snow storms in the Republic since 1982.

In Northern Ireland, more than 300 schools were closed, some health facilities shut to non-urgent admissions and there was disruption and delay on the roads.

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