Belfast Telegraph

Republic still in grips of worst storm in 36 years

By Michelle Devane

Snow one metre deep is forecast for parts of the Republic in the worst winter storms in more than three decades.

The Republic has been put under a red alert weather warning, the highest level, as the most severe snow storm in 36 years spread across the island.

Blizzard conditions swept across the South on Thursday night as polar air brought by the so-called Beast From The East weather system mixed with 60mph gales from Storm Emma.

Temperatures dropped below minus 5C and there were strong gale force winds.

The red weather alert issued by Met Eireann is in place in Leinster and Munster, covering the east and south of the country, until 6pm today.

The alert is in place in Connacht in the west and the border counties with Northern Ireland until 6am.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar urged people to stay safe.

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

He added: "It's not safe to be outside in such conditions. No-one should be on the roads."

Several thousand households in Dublin and Kildare were without power on Thursday evening.

All flights in and out of Dublin Airport have been cancelled for Friday.

Aer Lingus and Ryanair will not have any flights from Dublin until Saturday morning.

Shannon, Cork and Knock airports have been closed.

More than 250 soldiers have been deployed to help ensure key staff can get to hospitals and to house-bound patients.

All out-patient hospital appointments and non-urgent surgeries planned for today have been cancelled.

Evelyn Cusack, deputy head of forecast at Met Eireann said that meteorologically yesterday was an ice day because the air temperature did not rise above freezing anywhere in the Republic.

"Certainly a very poor start to spring," Ms Cusack said.

She added that exceptionally high amounts of snow for eastern parts of Wicklow and southern parts of Dublin were forecast.

"South Dublin could get up to one metre of snow," Ms Cusack said.

"This will have a huge knock-on effect over the next few days."

Met Eireann is also concerned that flooding could become a problem in the greater Dublin area when the snow thaws.

Meanwhile, a red weather warning - the second in 24 hours - was issued for south-west England and south Wales as Storm Emma moved in.

The Met Office urged those in affected areas to prepare for widespread heavy snow and very strong easterly winds, which will bring "blizzard conditions" and "severe drifting".

The weather front comes as the UK reeled from the effects of the Beast from the East and just hours after a red alert for Scotland ended at 10am.

A seven-year-old girl became the latest to die during the severe weather.

The child, believed to be a pedestrian, was fatally injured after a car hit a house on Bodrigan Road in Looe at about 2.30pm, Devon and Cornwall Police said.

A 75-year-old woman was found dead in a snow-covered street in Leeds yesterday morning, while Hampshire Police said a 46-year-old man died after a collision involving a lorry and van on the A34.

A 60-year-old man who died after being pulled from the water at Danson Park, near Welling, south-east London on Wednesday, has been named by the Metropolitan Police as Stephen Cavanagh.

It comes as:

• Hundreds of schools were forced to close, including more than 125 in North Yorkshire and more than 330 across Kent, giving thousands of children a second snow day.

• The National Grid issued a "gas deficit warning" prompting fears of a shortage, but households were reassured domestic supplies would not be affected.

• Nearly all train operators warned of cancellations and disruption and hundreds of flights were cancelled.

• The Royal Air Force was drafted in to help relief efforts in snow-hit Lincolnshire.

The red snow warning issued for Wales and south-west England, valid until 2am on Friday, is just the third issued in seven years.

It means "widespread damage, travel and power disruption and risk to life is likely".

Belfast Telegraph

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