‘Beast From the East’ hits Athlone

Temperatures in Athlone plummeted below freezing this week as the ‘Beast From the East’ brought snow, ice, and unseasonably cold weather to Ireland, prompting Met Éireann to issue status yellow and orange warnings for much of the country.

After a biting cold night, Athlone woke up to a covering of powdery white snow on Wednesday.

Met Éireann has warned that “air and ground temperatures will be 5 to 10 degrees below normal, with significant wind chill and penetrating severe frosts.”

The heaviest snowfall in more than three decades is also expected, with severe conditions due to persist until Saturday.

The east of the country is expected to bear the brunt of the beast, with 30 to 50 cm of snow possible on Thursday and Friday, and conditions worsened by gale-force winds.

Westmeath County Council has said that it is planning its response in cooperation with the National Emergency Co-Ordination Group.

Council staff will be deployed as required, and the council said it has access to sufficient salt stocks to assist with keeping the roads clear. The council is monitoring the homeless population and is working with the voluntary agencies to provide additional emergency accommodation during this period.

The HSE has requested that the Irish Red Cross identify and make ready its vehicle resources, namely road ambulances, off-road ambulances and 4x4 vehicles. Similar requests have been made to other Irish voluntary emergency services.

The ESB has warned of the possibility of power outages, and has advised people to stay away from low-hanging or fallen power cables. People are instead asked to report such situations to the ESB by calling 1850 372999.

Irish Rural Link, the national network representing the interest of rural communities, is urging people to check in on elderly neighbours during the cold snap. People are reminded to be aware of their more vulnerable neighbours, and to ensure that they have an adequate supply of fuel, food and medical supplies.

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