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Weather chaos across Northern Ireland

Council workers clear ice and snow from outside the new £11.7m Girdwood Community Hub in north Belfast. Picture by Mal McCann.
Marie Louise McConville

There was traffic chaos across Northern Ireland yesterday as motorists woke to freezing temperatures.

With a blanket of snow covering the country, drivers were warned to take extreme car as they took to the roads early yesterday.

Transport NI gritters had been out in force on Thursday night and all day yesterday, as temperatures plummeted and widespread frost gripped the roads.

The A5 Omagh to Ballygawley Road in Co Tyrone, the Carrowreagh Road in Dundonald and the Edenticullo Road in Hillsborough, both Co Down, were among a number of roads closed as a result of snow while the area around the Sperrins, at Dungiven, Claudy and across to Donemana were reported to be especially difficult.

There were also concerns about roads around the north Antrim hills.

In Beragh, Co Tyrone, a Transport NI gritter left the road and fell in to a ditch. A spokeswoman for the Department for Regional Development confirmed the driver of the vehicle was not seriously injured and was able to return to work a short time later.

There was also a number of school closures in counties Antrim and Tyrone as a result of the weather.

The weather also led to Translink cancelling all buses, including school services, between Crumlin in Co Antrim and Belfast for a time.

The public transport body said it had adopted a range of measures in a bid to reduce the impact of cold weather conditions on rail and bus services.

These include special railway anti-freeze and temperature-triggered point heaters in key areas.

Ciaran Doherty, General Manager for bus and train services at Translink, said: "During extreme weather conditions Ulsterbus and Metro Inspectors, in conjunction with local bus driver risk assessment groups, carry out route risk assessments to determine the safety and suitability of routes for buses to operate on and divert services if required.

"We have also taken steps to train around 100 staff in additional competencies such as clearing snow from points and managing points failures they are on standby to keep rail, platforms and walkways clear.

However, while freezing temperatures were expected overnight last night, forecasters have predicted a slightly warmer few days ahead.

PA Weather Centre said yesterday that Northern Ireland had hopefully seen the end of the present snow fall.

"Saturday looks like it should be dry and there might be a bit of cloud but hopefully, it will be brighter," said a forecaster.

"We are not really expecting anything in terms of snow. It is still going to be cold, below zero with frost and getting up to four or five degrees Celsius".

Tomorrow will be "cloudy and fairly chilly" with householders wakening up to temperatures of a "little bit above zero".

"It will be getting up to seven or eight degrees Celsius. There will be a bit of light rain. It will be cloudy but mostly dry".

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