Northern Ireland's drought fears after hottest June in 175 years

Armagh Observatory said that June 2018 was the hottest in 175 years. Picture by Justin Kernoghan.
Áine Quinn

NORTHERN Ireland is facing further challenges amid drought fears after its hottest June in 175 years.

Armagh Observatory said this June was the warmest since 1846. It was recorded as being drier than average, with a higher than average number of hours of strong sunshine.

The Met Office has said the warm weather is here to stay, with temperatures today expected to reach 25C and little to no rain is expected until the end of next week.

As temperatures continued to soar fire broke out on the popular Benone Strand near Limavady.

Firefighters were called to the award winning Co Derry beach after 12.30opm yesterday with seven fire engines are at the scene.

Smoke was seen billowing from the sand dunes. Plumes travelled as far as Magilligan and Myroe, about five miles away.

Meanwhile a hosepipe ban was put in place last Friday, for the first time in 23 years, and it will stay in place for the forseeable future.

Water levels at Spelga Dam in Co Down have dropped so low that the road and bridge, which ran through the area before the dam was built, are now visible.

Northern Ireland Water chief Sara Venning said: "We would like to thank all our customers who are working with us to limit their water usage. However, demand remains much higher than normal, particularly during peak times, so we are still struggling to get water around the system quickly enough.

"By helping us, you are in fact helping yourself, as the ultimate penalty for using water unnecessarily is not a fine it is the heightened risk of widespread supply interruptions.

"We continue to maximise our water production and I am grateful to our dedicated workforce who are working continuously day and night to ensure we keep customers in supply."

People have also been urged to come forward and report any breaches of the hosepipe ban - which can incur a fine of up to £1,000.

NI Water said it has dealt with a number of incidents of vandalism on fire hydrants.

Since Friday, the company has been called to 18 incidents of fire hydrant abuse - in Belfast, Newcastle, Draperstown and Magherafelt.

Ms Venning said: "Some may see it as harmless fun by kids, but the reality is, as they play in the water, homes and businesses are suffering low water pressure or no water at all."

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