Road temperature dips as low as -8 during cold snap

Thursday, 14 December 2017

OFFALY County Council has already used a month's supply of salt in treating its "priority routes" since snow blanketed the country and temperatures plummeted over the weekend.
Road temperatures in and around Birr dropped to as low as -8 on Sunday night last, a local authority spokesperson told the Tribune while temperatures were as equally freezing in Gurteen, county Tipperary where it reportedly fell to -6.3 making it one of the coldest spots in Ireland.
This week, Damien Grennan, Senior Engineer Roads Section, Offaly County Council confirmed the "priority routes" were treated on 14 occasions including 240 km in the Birr Municipal District since the extremely cold weather spell struck on Saturday night last.
The Engineer said the local authority's crews had being "working around the clock since Saturday night last" where they had to both salt and plough up to four inches of snow on some of the county's roads. "We have managed to keep the priority routes operational," he said. According to Mr Grennan, road temperatures continued to remain extremely low over the last few days after -5 was recorded in Fivealley, Birr on Monday night last.
Looking to the next few days, Mr Grennan said Met Eireann has reported that temperatures are expected to hit freezing and so the local authority will be "monitoring the situation closely" to see whether they will have to treat the priority routes or not.
While Offaly County Council treated the "priority routes", the remaining snow and ice continued to make driving extremely dangerous and difficult in some areas with reports of extremely slippery driving and walking conditions in places like Banagher, Belmont and Cloghan to name but a few.
Mr Grennan said the local authority had received a lot of calls from some of these areas. However, he said unfortunately, many of them were from people living in areas that weren't on a "priority route". He did, however, say they were trying to get out to some areas to treat them during day light hours. But, he strongly urged people to continue to exercise extreme care on all routes in the coming days as frozen and compacted ice and snow remain on some routes.
Several events scheduled for last weekend also fell victim to the heavy snow including a visit by Santa Claus to Belmont, which was postponed until Sunday, December 17 next. The annual Lough Boora Santa Dash was also postponed until this Sunday due to the inclement weather conditions. On a good note, local Gardai in Birr didn't report to the Tribune any major road traffic incidents during this extreme cold snap in the district.
There were also reports of flooding in Moneygall village while the Kinnitty to Roscrea road was closed on Sunday morning last due to floodwater on the road north of Roscomroe. Road users were also being advised to exercise extreme caution and to use the designated salting routes in the county.
According to Tipperary County County's Winter Maintenance 2017-2018 Salting Routes, priority one was given to the M7 motorway, national roads and regional roads of strategic importance, priority two was given to regional roads with high volume of traffic using the road and access to major schools and industries while priority three was given to other regional roads, town streets and local county roads on a priority basis.
Meanwhile, Met Eireann said on Wednesday (December 13) would be a "cold, blustery, showery day with occasional bright spells". Showers were expected to be fairly widespread, many heavy and some prolonged with some falling as hail or sleet, with a few thunderstorms also. Top temperatures were expected to be between 4 to 6 degrees generally. Looking at the outlook for Thursday through to Saturday, Met Eireann expected frost at night, especially Thursday and Friday night, but "becoming mild over the weekend".


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