Living in Ireland: Surviving a Snowstorm

Surviving a snowstorm.

Yes, that’s a bit melodramatic. However, snow is not something I thought I’d be writing about while living in Ireland.

This island is supposed to have a temperate climate, after all.

But every decade or so conditions are just right to deliver a weather wollup to the country. In this case (March 2018), it was in the form of Storm Emma colliding with “The Beast from the East,” which was a disruption to the stratospheric polar vortex that normally stays right where it belongs – up above the Arctic Circle.

(And, yes. I had to google that.)

When these two meteorological forces combined over the country of Ireland, drama came roaring in like a…well, like a beast.

If you’ve ever lived in an area that doesn’t see frequent snow, you’ll know that when it does snow, even a tiny bit, it’s not pretty. Same thing with Ireland. There were reports of accidents, abandoned cars, injuries, and power outages. High tides produced flooding. High winds contributed to 6-foot snow drifts which blocked some rural roads.

Despite the government’s efforts to mitigate the storm’s impact with the resources it had, the country came to a grinding halt.

An Irish mom told me, “We don’t deal well with snow here.”

As is to be expected in one of these situations, there was also a whole lot of irrational behavior. Particularly by the bread hoarders.

(image: source unknown)

Weather warnings in Ireland are categorized by a color-coded system. A detailed explanation of the coding system can be found here.

When a red weather warning is issued by Met Éireann, the Irish Meteorological Service, you’d better be prepared to hunker down in a safe place. Everything is going to shut down: buses, trains, schools, airports, stores, attractions, etc.

I take that back. Not everything. Your local bar will probably be open. Ours was! This is Ireland, after all. If the bars and liquor stores shut down, be very worried.

In regard to public transportation shutting down, if you live in Ireland without a car, as we do, this severely limits your travel options. It means you need to plan ahead so that you don’t get stuck at work, for instance. Or stuck at home without adequate supplies for the storm’s duration. There always seems to be that one taxi driver who loves driving in the snow, but you may have to wait awhile for that driver to get to you.

As an expat, I’ve found it is pretty easy to live in a bubble where you don’t pay as much attention to local news. That can be dangerous. So, if the weather app on your phone is displaying something unusual, like snow flakes in Ireland, pay attention to it and seek out more information.

Storm Emma dumped about 8 inches of snow on our home in South Dublin over 3 days. And, yes, the first round of snow looked like Dippin’ Dots ice cream. Yum?

Thankfully, the worst thing that happened to us was a mild case of cabin fever and a wee bit of anxiety about when our grocery store might reopen. We were running dangerously low on the one particular essential I forgot to stock up on…toilet paper.

If you were a tourist in Ireland during this storm, I feel for you! It would have been hard to understand why Ireland completely shut down – especially if you’re from an area that routinely deals with snow. Frankly, it’s kind of hard to understand even if you live here.

While there are always some bad actors during a storm, I saw it bring out the best in my neighbors. Folks checking on each other and shoveling the driveways of the elderly. Snowball fights in the middle of the street. Unexpected family time to build snowmen. All of that was really lovely.

(image: source unknown)

When we moved to Ireland, I told my kids they probably wouldn’t get any snow days here. “It doesn’t get cold enough,” I said. Leave it to a polar vortex to damage all my credibility on this topic.

Needless to say, my kids were pretty happy I was wrong! Three days off of school! What’s not to love about that?

Now we just have to see what happens when all this snow melts.

If you are moving to Ireland, here are few local Irish resources to utilize for information, but by no means an exhaustive list. Most all of these are active on social media during a storm.

An Garda Síochána (Ireland’s National Police Service)

The Irish Meteorological Service 

Office of Emergency Planning


Irish Times

Irish Independent

Bus Éireann

Irish Rail

Dublin Bus


If you want to know more about our experience of moving to and living in Ireland, check out these posts:

Living in Ireland: Life Without a Car

Living in Ireland: Inside My Kitchen

Living in Ireland: Christmas in Retail 2017

Living in Ireland: Storm Ophelia

Living in Ireland: That Time a Tree Came Down

Living in Ireland: Pediatric Emergency Medicine

Living in Ireland: Back After A Month in the United States

Living in Ireland: As Seen On My Commute

Living in Ireland: A Trip to the Hardware Store

Living in Ireland: Spring Flowers In Our Yard

Living in Ireland: Grocery Shopping

Living in Ireland: What to See my Hot Press?

Living in Ireland: Merry Christmas 2016

Living in Ireland: Christmas in Retail

Living in Ireland: Exploring Our New Country

Living in Ireland: Groceries

Moving to Ireland: Grocery Item Look Alikes

Moving to Ireland: Primary School 101

Moving to Ireland: First Week of School

Moving to Ireland: A Day Out and About

Moving to Ireland: The Great Purge

Moving to Ireland: Human Kindness is Overflowing 

Moving to Ireland: House Viewing #1

Moving to Ireland:  House Viewing #2

Moving to Ireland: House Viewing #3

Moving to Ireland: Temp House First Floor

Moving to Ireland: Temp House Second Floor

Moving Tips to Keep You Sane

My #1 Moving Tip

Thinking about visiting Ireland? Read on!

The Cliffs of Moher and the Aran Islands with Kids

Galway with Kids

Our Favorite Irish Castle Tour with Kids

Belfast with Kids

Dublin: Talking Statues

Kissing the Blarney Stone and Blarney Castle

*affiliate links in this post*

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  • Aster

    Well, I wrote if Ireland wins the Slam and the series in Australia. The AB”s pretty much have to go unbeaten before they meet to avoid a clash for the top dog status in the rankings? I am no ranking expert, but will not Ireland be the new number two is they beat Scotland and England?

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