As the ‘Beast from the East’ prepares to clash with Storm Emma later this afternoon, farmers and rural dwellers have been warned to remain indoors from 4:00pm today and to exercise extreme caution.

Met Eireann last night extended its Status Red snow and ice alert – its highest level of warning – to the entire country, with the south and south-east expected to be worst impacted.

The weather warning will remain in place until 3:00pm tomorrow.

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has issued a statement urging farmers to prioritise safety; to ensure that water pipes in the farmyard and those leading to outside water troughs are prevented from freezing; and to ensure that livestock have adequate shelter and feed.

Agricultural colleges are closed today; with marts also experiencing cancellations nationwide.

In the case of any animal welfare issues arising from the severe weather event, farmers are advised to keep in touch with their Teagasc advisor, veterinary practitioner, or to contact the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine Animal Welfare Helpline on: 0761-064408 (call-save); or 01-6072379 (direct line).

Snow-ice warning for Ireland

Met Eireann has said that temperatures are expected to remain “below freezing” – between -6º and -8º – throughout the country today, with the risk of strong to gale force winds along coastal areas.

Visibility is also expected to be poor in the hardest-hit areas.

Speaking on RTE‘s Morning Ireland, Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Eoghan Murphy said temperatures are “expected to be as low as -10º in some areas”.

Further heavy snow showers are expected to bring accumulations of significant levels with all areas said to be at risk.

The blizzard-like conditions will develop from the south this afternoon and evening, as heavy snow and strong easterly winds are set to bring snow drifts northwards over the country.

Met Eireann expects eastern and southern coastal counties to be worst affected.

The National Emergency Co-ordination Group will meet again this morning and will issue further updates and advice throughout the day.