Snow and ice warning issued for all of Ireland

A Status Yellow alert for Snow and Ice has been issued for all of Ireland with wintry falls of hail, sleet and snow forecast over the weekend.

Met √Čireann's existing Snow/Ice warning for Cavan, Monaghan, Donegal, Leitrim, Mayo, Roscommon and Sligo will be extended nationwide at 6.00pm tomorrow (Saturday) and will remain valid until midday on Sunday.

The UK Met Office has issued a separate warning for Antrim, Armagh, Down, Fermanagh, Tyrone and Derry where it says snow and ice may cause travel disruption tonight and early Saturday.

Snow fell across parts of the southeast and northwest on Friday leading to hazardous driving conditions.  A more organised band of hail, sleet and snow will cross the country on Saturday night leading to accumulations, even at lower levels.

The Office of Emergency Planning today urged the public to follow the #BeWinterReady advice to ensure you are best prepared.

According to IWO Senior Forecaster Peter O'Donnell, "It will become overcast tomorrow with intervals of sleet or snow developing. These may become rather heavy across the midlands and parts of Munster and Leinster by evening and into the overnight hours, 5 to 15 cm snowfalls are possible although some lower elevations could see mixing and lose some of that total accumulation.  There may be a second wave of mixed wintry precipitation after some breaks in the overcast around midday on Sunday and it will remain quite cold, with lows near -2 C and highs near 4 C."

The current cold spell will come to an end on Tuesday morning as rain, preceded by sleet and snow in inland locations for a time, introduces much milder conditions from the southwest for much of the week.

Peter continued, "Monday will have some morning frosts and a slow increase in temperatures later in the day but as rain hits the west coast during the night it may turn to sleet or snow inland for a time until Tuesday morning, temperatures starting out below freezing (lows near -3 C) and rising to the 3-6 C range."

The long range outlook suggests a possible return to colder weather by the turn of the month and into the first week of February.

"Mild conditions may turn back to cold and snowy before the end of the weekend of 30-31 Jan, and the first week of February is looking rather cold in general with high pressure developing to the northeast, and winds turning easterly as a result," Peter said. "None of this is entirely "carved in stone" this far ahead, so stay tuned. This winter is probably far from done."

Meteogroup, which provides long range forecasts for the BBC, says, "There is a high risk for more prolonged cold to develop into mid-February, which would be caused by stronger high pressure to the north. This would also be a drier pattern for the UK as the Atlantic low pressure systems mainly track south of us and head into France, Spain, and Portugal."

Met √Čireann is scheduled to update its new monthly forecast feature later today.  Click here.