The so-called 'Beast from the East' is set to bring freezing temperatures from tomorrow
The Housing Minister has said a status red weather warning is likely later this week amid expected 'exceptionally cold' weather.
The so-called 'Beast from the East' cold weather movement is set to bring freezing temperatures to Ireland, with the worst conditions in the south and east.
The worst conditions are expected on Thursday.
A status orange snow-ice warning has already been issued for Dublin, Carlow, Kildare, Laois, Louth, Wicklow and Meath.
The Government's Emergency Co-ordination Group for Severe Weather met earlier today to plan a response to the expected extreme weather.
Evelyn Cusack @MetEireann briefing the National Emergency Coordination Group on the weather forecast for this week and possibility of accumulations of snow later in the week. Advice to keep close contact with Daily Forecasts and any warnings issued. pic.twitter.com/auivNoPgR5— OEP (@emergencyIE) February 26, 2018
Speaking after the meeting, Minister Eoghan Murphy explained: "It certainly has the potential in the south and east of the country to become a status red warning on Thursday or Friday. Whether that happens in the rest of the country remains to be seen.
"If we were to see a status red issued for Thursday, for example... that would lead to public school closures because of public transport closures. At that point in time, we'd be giving other advice as to what we'd be recommending in terms of people travelling to and from work."
The orange warning comes into effect from 3pm tomorrow (Tuesday), with scattered snow showers set to bring accumulations of 4 to 6 cm by Wednesday morning.
A lower-level status yellow warning has been issued for the counties of Kilkenny, Longford, Wexford, Offaly, Westmeath, Cork, Tipperary and Waterford, where accumulations of up to 3 cm are expected.
A weather advisory issued last week warned of freezing conditions for the entire country until Saturday.
Met Éireann's Pat Clarke explained: "Very cold air is heading our way, all the way from Siberia and northern Russia.
"Very severe and penetrating frost at night, and values at day will struggle - even on Wednesday and Thursday, they'll be lucky to get to zero or +1 [degrees] on those days."
The Government says the Housing Department is making contact with local authorities to ensure all homeless people and rough sleepers will have shelter and accommodation during the cold spell.
Minister Murphy says homeless people will be prioritised during the extreme weather, explaining that there will be extra beds and rough sleeper teams checking on the most vulnerable.
He said: "It's looking like an extreme snow event that's going to hit us from Tuesday onwards.
"We have had a cold weather initiative in place since about December, so what it means is just ramping up that initiative."
He also confirmed that people won’t be asked to leave shelters during the day.
Meanwhile, members of the public are being urged to visit the 'Winter Ready' website to help prepare for the expected severe weather.