Ireland is preparing to be plunged into sub-zero temperatures by an Arctic airmass that is likely to bring its coldest weather since Storm Emma over four years ago.
The bitter airflow will bring daytime temperatures around freezing, with nighttime temperatures likely to drop to -6C and colder in places.
This will bring snow in parts of the country and hail, sleet and freezing rain in other areas.
Frosty fog, black ice and wintry precipitation will make traveling particularly unsafe at night.
The Road Safety Authority (RSA) has advised motorists and pedestrians to prepare for dangerous conditions of black ice, snow, fog and frost in the coming days.
Met Éireann has issued status yellow warnings for low temperatures and frigid conditions and forecast severe frost and ice into next Monday, with uncertainty beyond.
Temperatures are not expected to rise above 3C until next week.
Daily temperatures are expected to be around 5°C below seasonal averages towards the end of this week and will feel very cold after an unusually mild November.
Retailers in the capital have reported a huge surge in demand for winter essentials since Met Éireann issued its weather warning earlier this week.
Meteorologist Brandon Creagh said the cold snap will likely bring the harshest temperatures the country has felt in several years.
Temperatures in the country plummeted to -9C in early March 2018 after what has been dubbed ‘the beast from the east’ and similarly bitter conditions are expected in the coming days.
“Considering we haven’t seen anything like this in recent years, it’s going to feel unusual in most people’s memories,” Mr Creagh said.
“We’ve had fairly mild winters for the last two years and November was also very mild last month.
“For us, it went from southerly, fairly tropical air in November to easterly and now northerly quite quickly, which pulls the cold air down on us.”
Parts of Connacht, Ulster and the Midlands may snow today before a mass of clouds moving in from the east tonight and tomorrow morning bringing with them more snow and sleet.
Today begins with black ice and patches of fog, with daily highs of 1°C to 5°C.
A “heavy” frost then sets in that evening, with wintry showers and overnight lows of -5°C and colder.
Snowstorms tomorrow morning will most likely affect Dublin, the Wicklow Mountains and the east coast.
There will be some snow and freezing fog, but much of the country will be cold but clear.
Intermittent hail and snow showers are expected across the coastal districts tomorrow, with overnight lows of 0C and -5C forecast.
Temperatures will drop even further over the weekend, possibly not rising above zero in some places, with an freezing fog lingering over parts of the country.
Sunday will be similarly bitter, with some places likely to see highs of just -2C and lows of -6C, with the possibility of it getting even colder locally.
The crisis management team from the National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management met yesterday morning and has been in touch with Met Éireann regarding the current cold weather spell, it said.
The forecaster has also briefed local authorities, utilities and government agencies in preparation for the cold spell.
As temperatures drop, the public is scrambling to stay warm and retailers are reporting increased sales of space heaters, electric blankets and other merchandise.
Woodie’s in Blanchardstown said no standalone Superser gas heaters were selling out, while briquettes and hot water bottles were also selling out quickly.
DID Electrical in Stillorgan said electric blankets and electric and oil-fired heaters were selling out, while Guineys in Dublin city center said it had seen a big surge in sales of blankets and thermal underwear as people “stacked up layers”.
No school closures or disruptions to school bus routes have yet been announced, with an Education Department spokesman saying school administrators are responsible for the day-to-day running of their facilities.
Alone, the national older people advocacy group, recently launched its winter campaign.
It warned more elderly people than ever before are at risk of suffering from the cold due to rising electricity and oil prices this winter.
Share the Warmth aims to raise awareness and provide funds to help the more than 100,000 older people who are now living in or at risk of poverty.
Seán Moynihan, CEO of Alone, said the charity needed to expand its services to meet growing demand.
https://www.independent.ie/weather/coldest-weather-since-beast-from-the-east-as-6c-temperatures-and-wintry-showers-on-way-42203986.html Weather Ireland: Met Éireann is forecasting the coldest period since Beast from the East, with temperatures of -6C and wintry showers en route