Northern Ireland news

Red weather warning continues

The Athletic Grounds in Armagh blanketed in snow. Picture by Mal McCann.

A RED weather warning for parts of the Republic has been extended until this morning as heavy snow continued to fall across Ireland yesterday.

The Met Éireann status red alert, which is the highest that can be issued, applies to counties Dublin, Kildare, Wexford, Wicklow and Meath until 9am.

Amber alerts have also been issued for several other regions including the border counties of Cavan and Monaghan.

In northern counties, Armagh, Down and parts of south Antrim were worst hit by the late winter blizzards that have swept across Ireland and Britain in recent days.

Forecasters said the worst of the cold weather may have passed with temperatures expected to increase in the coming days.

In the north, an amber weather alert was downgraded to yellow as warnings for more snow and ice remained in place.

Almost 400 schools were closed yesterday across Northern Ireland as Storm Emma and the ‘Beast from the East' combined to bring the heaviest snowfall in years to some areas.

Dunnes Stores also took the decision to close all its outlets in Northern Ireland, as well as the Republic. The retailer was one of only a few in the north which shut their doors.

In Dublin, a 24-hour Spar on Dame Street vowed to stay open during the bad weather. The shop is one of two 24-hour shops on the busy street which do not have any main doors.

The Republic saw up to a metre of snowfall in some areas. At the peak of the bad weather, around 117,000 homes, farms and businesses across the country were without power.

Although airports in the north remained open, passengers were being advised to contact airlines about potential delays.

Hundreds of flights were cancelled at Dublin airport but it is expected to reopen again this morning along with other airports including Shannon and Cork.

In Dublin, public transport services remained cancelled as snow brought the capital to a standstill.

Freezing temperatures combined with a bitter wind chill led to sub-zero conditions on roads across Ireland.

High winds blew new snow over freshly cleared roads in many areas as transport chiefs battled to keep the network open.

While the M1 motorway in the north had all lanes open in both directions, the A1 dual carriageway was down to a single carriageway yesterday morning.

The poor weather forced the closure of some roads around the Newtownhamilton and Keady areas in south Armagh.

In Co Down, roads around Katesbridge and Rathfriland were also not passable.

People living in the worst affected areas were advised yesterday to only travel if necessary. The Mourne Mountain Rescue Team said it operated from 5am helping essential staff reach Daisy Hill Hospital in Co Down.

Some Translink services in the worst affected areas were also disrupted while the cross border Enterprise rail service was cancelled.

Cross border train and bus services are expected to resume today subject to weather conditions and health and safety considerations.

Meanwhile, members of the public have been urged to check up on the elderly and vulnerable during the cold snap.

As the cold weather continues to bite, NI Water has urged property owners to leave the heat on in unused buildings and check empty properties for burst pipes over the weekend.

On a sporting front, the GAA in Ulster has cancelled weekend fixtures.

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