NOTE: Keep refreshing this story during the day as we will be updating it with the latest news on the local impacts of the storm, nicknamed 'The Beast From The East'.
4.57pm The latest update from Offaly County Council on the weather situation..
Update 4pm Wednesday 28th February, 2018, Local Coordination Group
Met Éireann have advised Offaly remains at Status Orange today.
All major routes continue to be gritted and ploughed. Where resources are available footpaths in our main towns are also being cleared but we would ask all households and businesses to clear footpaths and areas outside their premises of snow at an early stage to ensure the safety of the public.
As of now all roads in the county remain open apart from the following:
• Kinnitty to Mountrath road, the R440 Regional Road and the L8001-1 (across the Slieve Blooms).
• L-4025-1 and L-4025-2 Kinnitty Road to Roscrea is closed in Kinnitty Village to Brereton’s Pub.
• The Whitehall Bridge in Tullamore
Road users are advised to exercise extreme caution. Don’t travel unless absolutely necessary. Please follow the advice at http://rsa.ie/…/Current-road-safety-…/Severe-Weather-Advice/ if you have to travel.
Gardaí have advised that they are prioritising and risk assessing all calls and that in the event of minor accidents where no injury arises, details should be exchanged and the accident can be reported at a later date.
Sufficient stocks of salt are in place to grit roads as per Offaly County Council’s Winter Maintenance Plan which is available here. http://offaly.ie/eng/Services/Roads/Winter-Maintenance/
The Council has ensured additional emergency accommodation is available for those who need it and are working with all agencies to identify and accommodate vulnerable people.
We would ask the public to check www.winterready.ie for advice on how to deal with potential adverse weather conditions.
Please check on the elderly and isolated neighbours and friends and ensure they have adequate stocks of food, fuel and medicine.
All Council Offices, including libraries and civic amenity centres, will be closed to the public for the remainder of this week. Staff will continue to maintain essential services during this current weather event.
Please note from 4pm tomorrow Thursday 1st March until 12pm Friday 2nd March a RED weather alert is in place for Offaly. We are asking all members of the public to stay indoors during this time as blizzard conditions are likely. Please do not endanger your own life or those of the emergency services and abide by this national advice.
The main contact number for emergencies is 057 93 46800 and our out of hours/emergency number is 1890 750 750
4.27pm Bus Eireann has announced that it will not be operating any of its services in Leinster or Munster tomorrow. It will resume its services at noon on Friday.
For the most up to date travel information, customers are advised to visit www.buseireann.ie
3.44pm Lidl has announced that it will be closing all its stores in Leinster and Munster from 3pm tomorrow, Thursday, to 1pm on Friday. The hunt for bread and milk has just gotten tougher....
3.42pm All routine elective and outpatients appointments at Tullamore and the other hospitals in the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group have been cancelled for the next two days.
3.06pm Jigsaw Offaly has said due to the status red weather alert they will remain closed until Monday, March 5th. All appointments will be rescheduled as soon as possible.
2.53pm: Treacherous road conditions on the R445 between Moneygall and Roscrea.
2.30pm: Athlone IT has announced the campus will close at 3pm today and remain closed until Monday morning.
Reports reaching us of severe tailbacks on the N55 near Tubberclair after a lorry jack-knifed.
2.27pm: All Offaly County Council offices are now closed. Statement below
All Offaly County Council offices including Áras an Chontae, Municipal Districts, Libraries and Civic Amenity Centres are closed to the public from 1.30pm today. Staff are maintaining essential services during the current weather event. Updates will be updated on the Council’s website, social media and through the local media. We apologise for any inconvenience caused and remind everyone to exercise extreme caution if you have to travel. The main contact number for emergencies is 0579346800 and our out of hours/emergency number is 1890 750 750.
1.30pm: People are being advised to get home, and stay home, by 4pm tomorrow as visibility will be very low during the expected blizzard conditions.
1.10pm: CONFIRMED: All schools and third-level instutions in Munster and Leinster will be closed tomorrow and Friday.
Here's the statement from the Department of Education:
"Given the disruption to transport and the safety risks arising, most particularly in relation to the ability to get home safely before blizzard like conditions hit Munster and Leinster, all schools, third level institutions, colleges and centres of further education in red areas will be closed tomorrow and Friday.
"In relation to Connaught and Ulster decisions on school closures will be made individually depending on the circumstances in their area. The situation in Connaught and Ulster will be kept under review."