Snow chaos on roads but some milder weather is on the way
SNOW and ice brought chaos to the roads as a new blast of winter hit the country.
However, forecasters say milder air will melt the last of the ice later today and temperatures will be into the mid-teens by the weekend.
Things are set to become milder with Met Eireann's Joanna Donnelly dismissing as "pure speculation" some reports of a heat wave for the country or one amateur forecaster's prediction of a white St Patrick's Day.
"It's not us (Met Eireann forecasters) who can't go beyond a few days. It's the atmosphere and the conditions," she said.
Donegal postman Michael Gallagher predicted a return of bitterly cold weather next week.
"All the indications are that this cold snap is not going to go away too quickly and it could spread up until St Patrick's Day," said Mr Gallagher, who claims to predict the weather by studying animal behaviour and plantlife.
"At this rate St Patrick could be wearing a white coat this year," he insisted.
Motorists across the country faced horrendous driving conditions yesterday with a spate of minor road accidents.
"Travel conditions were very poor overnight and first thing in the morning especially in the midlands and south with icy roads and some heavy falls of snow," said AA's Conor Faughnan.
"A lot of drivers were caught out by the conditions and we had numerous reports of minor accidents including cars sliding in to ditches. Often this caused damage to tyres and or suspensions which the AA was called out to attend to."
Calls to the AA Rescue Service were 30pc higher than normal with a big increase in tyre and battery incidents. Cork in particular was extremely busy.
"By lunchtime we had already dealt with 25 road traffic accidents, thankfully mostly with minor damage. It was a really dangerous morning and although the forecast is for an improvement we would urge all drivers to be extremely careful," added Mr Faughnan.
In the North West a day of snow and hail showers was followed last night with thunder and lightning storms.
More than 160 homes in Creeslough, Co Donegal, lost power in the storm and ESB Networks also dealt with power outages in Mayo and Kerry.
Temperatures will drop back to zero again tonight but tomorrow will bring fresh southwesterly winds and mercury will rise up to 11C.
Meanwhile, Met Éireann's monthly report shows we had a dry but cold February. It also shows that temperatures were below average during the winter.
However, there were some exceptions: Dublin Airport reported its sunniest winter since records began 73 years ago.
Last month Newport, Co Mayo, was the wettest place in the country with 145.6mm of rainfall recorded. Newport also recorded the highest rainfall in a single day at 17.6mm on February 22.