Weather Derry, Donegal, Tyrone: Gritters readied as ice and snow winter blast to arrive from tonight

A fleet of 130 gritters and a dozen snow blowers have been readied ahead of temperatures dropping further overnight to around -3 degrees celsius.

The Department for Infrastructure in the north said preparations have been made for what looks like a prolonged period of freezing cold weather for the north west and indeed the rest of Ireland.

A major shift is expected on Tuesday night and forecasters are predicting that temperatures will plunge to around or below freezing point by day and night over the next week at least.

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Met Eireann itn its forecast for Ulster states: “Very cold tonight with a widespread sharp frost and icy stretches. Generally dry though isolated showers will occur, some wintry in the north west later.

“Wednesday will be a cold day with highest temperatures of only 2 to 4 degrees. Dry for the main with crisp spells of low winter sunshine, however a few well scattered showers will feed into the north and west, with the odd wintry one falling to lower levels.”

The weather body said this pattern will remain with even colder days predicted for Thursday, Friday and into the weekend. Across Ireland will be “very cold with widespread frost expected, along with some wintry showers and icy stretches on roads”.

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“Wednesday night: There will be a widespread sharp frost with lows of -3 to +1 degrees with ice on untreated surfaces. Wintry showers will move southwards over the northern half of the country overnight and temperatures will rise marginally with falls of rain, sleet and snow, in some areas, that may lead to some very icy conditions.

Gritters and snow ploughs, like these ones in the north, have been readied on both sides of the border a temperatures are set to plunge overnight.
Gritters and snow ploughs, like these ones in the north, have been readied on both sides of the border a temperatures are set to plunge overnight.
Gritters and snow ploughs, like these ones in the north, have been readied on both sides of the border a temperatures are set to plunge overnight.

“Thursday: Very cold with temperatures only nudging above freezing in some areas with high of between +1 and +4 degrees generally in light northerly breezes. Scattered outbreaks of rain, sleet, and possibly some snow over higher ground, will gradually push down over the south of the country. Sunny spells and some scattered wintry showers will follow. They will become confined to coastal parts through the afternoon.

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“Thursday night: Another bitterly cold night with a widespread sharp to severe frost and some icy patches. Minimum temperatures of -4 to -1 degrees in light northwest to west breezes. Most areas will be dry and clear, but there will be a few wintry showers at times, mostly near northern coasts.”

In Donegal gritters have been active throughout this week as temperatures dropped under clear skies and Donegal County Council has confirmed the gritters will be back out this evening (Tuesday) from 6pm. The map of roads being treated in the county is available here: www.donegalcoco.ie/services/roadsservice/winter%20weather/

In the north, the Department for Infrastructure said around 300 staff and 130 gritters are available to salt main roads to keep traffic moving safely and freely. Twelve specialist snow blowers are also available.

We may see more scenes like this one in Derry a few years back over the coming weeks.
We may see more scenes like this one in Derry a few years back over the coming weeks.
We may see more scenes like this one in Derry a few years back over the coming weeks.
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Colin Sykes, Director of Road Asset Maintenance, said: “Every year our winter service operation remains in place from October to April to ensure 7,000 kilometres of the road network on the salting schedule remain open. With snow and ice forecast for this week and some disruption on our roads possible, staff are ready to be deployed as necessary.”

“We have around 74,000 tonnes of salt in stock and in addition over 5,500 salt bins and 58,000 grit piles are also available for use by the public on a self-help basis on selected routes not included on the salting schedule.”

Information about road conditions in the north is available at: www.trafficwatchni.com

Information and advice, including about driving in adverse weather conditions, can be found at: www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/driving-adverse-weather-conditions-226-237

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Continuing, Mr Sykes said: “Despite our best efforts it is important to remember that we cannot guarantee ice-free roads even after salting. We all need to be mindful of the changing conditions and adjust the way we drive, ride or cycle to ensure it is appropriate for the conditions. The best advice is in the Highway Code, take extra care even if roads have been salted, be prepared for road conditions changing over short distances and take care when overtaking gritters.”