Met Éireann have issued a snow and ice warning ahead of plunging temperatures tonight.

The orange weather warning for snow and ice will remain in place from 4pm this afternoon until 6pm Friday, December 8.

The warning will apply to counties Cavan, Monaghan, Donegal, Longford, Leitrim, Mayo and Sligo.

Forecasters warned that "significant falls of snow are likely to cause accumulations of 3 cm or greater above mean sea level".

They will be providing updates on their website.

Met Eireann forecaster John Eagleton said temperatures are set to plunge tonight.

Temperatures will drop to zero or below zero tonight for the bulk of the country, he said, but will hit as low at minus 3C in the northwest tomorrow.

"It will be cold for the next 10 days, with temperatures hardly making it up to 10C during the day," said Mr Eagleton.

Meanwhile, a status yellow wind warning for Donegal, Galway, Leitrim, Mayo, Sligo, Clare and Kerry will remain in place until 8pm tonight.

Earlier, Met Eireann warned that the cold air and some icy conditions coming tonight will be “a real shock to the system” after the mild period. It will turn increasingly wintry with biting north-west winds. There may be a light dusting of snow around the country, and it may stick in places in the north and northwest.

The Road Safety Authority has cautioned motorists to expect the unexpected with high winds and icy conditions.

Its advice included:

• Watch out for falling/fallen debris and vehicles veering across the road.

• Control of a vehicle may be affected by strong crosswinds. High-sided vehicles and motorcyclists are particularly vulnerable to strong winds.

• Allow extra space between you and vulnerable road users such as cyclists and motorcyclists.

• Drive with dipped headlights at all times.

• Check tyres and consider replacing them if the tread depth is below 3mm.

• It takes longer to stop in wet conditions, so slow down and leave extra space between you and the vehicle in front.

• Take special care when driving behind heavy goods vehicles, as they generate a considerable amount of spray which reduces visibility.

• Be aware of the danger of aquaplaning, especially on roads with speed limits of 100kph and 120kph.