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28 Jan 2022

Treacherous conditions on M7 west of Roscrea being caused by unforeseeable Atlantic hailstorms

Treacherous conditions on M7 west of Roscrea being caused by unforeseeable Atlantic hailstorms

The M7 west of Roscrea is one of three motorways highlighted by Met Eireann as being susceptible to sudden hailstorms.

 

The M7 motorway which transects part of North Tipperary and Offaly is notorious with drivers for being treacherous in inclement weather, particularly during sudden hail storms in the area.

The matter was discussed at length during a number of Council meetings recently. Tipperary County Council discussed the matter for a considerable time during their monthly meeting in Clonmel, and the issue was raised again during the monthly meeting of Nenagh Municipal District.

Cllr Ger Darcy told Nenagh MD that the section of the motorway running through the North Tipp and Offaly region is prone to "unpredictable and intense, flash hailstorms, during which the hailstones, the size of ball bearings, make the road suddenly lethal. These storms can last half an hour and the speed of the motorists is extremely dangerous.”

The dangerous section runs from about Junction 27 (south of Nenagh), through Junction 25 (Nenagh), through Junction 23 (Moneygall) to Junction 22 (Roscrea).

Transport Infrastructure Ireland recently stated that many motorists are engaging in “reckless speeding” along the route, a problem which becomes especially dangerous during heavy rain or hail showers.

Cllr Hughie McGrath said speeding signs should be placed on the overhead gantries on the motorway. “A significant number of motorists are habitually driving too fast,” he remarked.

At the beginning of December there was a fatal collision on the motorway near Ballywilliam Nenagh involving a number of vehicles. A woman in her 60s suffered serious injuries and passed away afterwards in University Hospital Limerick. Marcus O'Connor, Director of Services, offered his deepest sympathies to the family of the woman.

Marcus explained that there are a number of roads in the state which are subject to sudden, unpredictable hail events. “One of these roads is the section of the motorway running west from Roscrea, past Moneygall and towards Nenagh, which has experienced quite a few flash hail storms over the last several years.” He said the M6 near Ballinasloe and the M18 from Clare to Galway also suffer from a similar problem.

“Met Eireann has done some research on the issue. They tell us that these very heavy hailstorms are coming in from the Atlantic. They hit with little advance warning and they can hit very localised areas. You could be driving from Dublin at 120kph and suddenly hit one of these storms. If you don't slow down, as some drivers aren't, you could be in serious trouble. The western half of Ireland is much more prone to these hail storms than the eastern half.

“I think putting warning signs, which are connected to weather sensors, on the gantries would be the best approach to this. Raising public awareness about the issue is also very important. People have to realise they should slow down to 50 or 60kph, maybe less, during these weather events. But slowing down to this speed is very difficult to do on motorways.”

Cllr Darcy said he believes sections of the N52 are also a matter of concern.

“Any road is prone to this,” said Mr O'Connor, “but it's an especially serious problem on the motorways because of the high speed of the traffic.”

Cllr Joe Hannigan said he wanted more done than simply putting signs on gantries and raising public awareness. He said he wanted to see the TII doing more. “I think we should meet with the TII and ask them to do more to tackle this.”

Mr O'Connor advised the councillors to be wary of sending out mixed messages. “There is nothing wrong with the road surface,” he remarked. “This problem is because of these sudden weather events coming in from the Atlantic.”

Cllr Hannigan said the Council should erect more warning signs along the motorway, including the area near the Birdhill junction south of Nenagh. Cllr Michael O'Meara said it wasn't the Council's position to be doing this. “It's a national issue and therefore the TII should be dealing with the matter,” he remarked. “I disagree with Cllr Hannigan on this point.” Cllr O'Meara wondered if these “weather bombs” are connected to Climate Change. He added that in countries like Canada motorists would be more aware of how to drive in weather conditions like this.

Cllr Hannigan said he was especially upset about the matter “because the lady who passed away after the traffic accident near Ballywilliam was well known in my area of Kilbarron Coolbawn. My daughter was also driving on that section of the road when the fatal accident occurred."

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 

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