| 7°C Dublin

The big freeze bites deeper

FRESH snowfall and freezing compacted snow have created impassible roads and forced a number of schools to close today.

Motorists are being warned to take particular care when travelling and to use public transport where available as road temperatures continue to be icy.

The cold snap has caused temperatures to plunge to minus 14C in Dublin.

Today may have seen a slight thaw in the temperatures with the weak winter sun of the afternoon, but it’s not going to get any better in the next few days.

Temperatures have hit record lows for this time of the year and compacted snow has refrozen to create hazardous roadways.

Sean O'Neill, of the National Roads Authority (NRA), said it is aiming to treat 20pc of the roads but their priority is the main roads and motorways.

But despite this, a number of roadways remain treacherous and AA Roadwatch has urged commuters to stay away from secondary roads, hills and rural areas and to use public transport to get to work.

Normal

However, some Bus Eireann services have been badly affected by the snowy conditions.

Although Bus Eireann said that the vast majority of its services around the country are operating as normal, the Dublin airport to Rosslare route has been curtailed and services in West Cork, parts of Wicklow and Dundalk were not operating this morning.

And a spokesman for Bus Eireann said that parents should contact their local school to check the status of the relevant service of the school transport scheme.

The Department of Education said that it was a matter for individual schools to decide whether to open.

Dublin Bus said that it was operating a full bus service but there were curtailments to a total of 17 bus routes due to the adverse weather conditions.

Iarnrod Eireann said that all Intercity, DART and commuter services were operating fully today despite the Arctic conditions.

The company said that they kept the engines on the trains running over night and have been de-icing level crossings.

Last night, gardai across the north west were urging motorists to only venture out if absolutely necessary.

In counties Sligo, Leitrim and Donegal, gardai said local authorities were only gritting national primary routes with secondary roads and county roads described as being in a hazardous condition.

Earlier in the weekend, the Donegal Mountain Rescue Team, which has been placed on emergency standby, was called in to assist gardai moving almost 50 cars which had got stuck in the Barnesmore Mountain gap on the N15 between Donegal town and Ballybofey on Saturday evening.

There was severe ice on all routes around Wicklow town and in mountainous areas and the Sally Gap and Wicklow Gap were impassable.

Dense fog was reported in parts of the midlands and motorists were urged to use fog lights in affected areas and switch them off afterwards.

Flights in and out of Dublin airport were expected to operate as normal, but passengers hoping to travel today were advised to check websites.

The Department of Transport has urged communters to check www.transport.ie for full details of public transport facilities.