Northern Ireland

Weather warnings for ice issued across Northern Ireland after heavy snowfall

Young people take to the grounds of Stormont to enjoy the snow as many of the schools closed due to the weather. Picture by Mal McCann.
Young people take to the grounds of Stormont to enjoy the snow as many of the schools closed due to the weather. Picture by Mal McCann. Young people take to the grounds of Stormont to enjoy the snow as many of the schools closed due to the weather. Picture by Mal McCann.

WEATHER warnings remain in place across the island of Ireland after a major snowfall on Friday closed schools, caused power outages and led to travel disruption.

More than 200 schools were closed on Friday across the north, with parents told that road and pavement conditions were too hazardous.

After a warning for snow on Friday, the Met Office has now extended the yellow weather alert for ice on Saturday until 10am, while Met Éireann also issued a warning for ice across many counties in the Republic.

Official snow measurements from the Met Office showed that 13cm fell in Glenanne, Co Armagh, while 11cm was reported in Lough Fea, Co Derry.

A Met Office spokesperson warned: “With snow and slush affecting many areas and likely to refreeze quickly after dusk, footpaths and walk ways are likely to remain treacherous for much of the next 24 hours, increasing the risk of slips and falls.”

The PSNI has urged road users to take extra care, especially on roads that may not have been gritted.

Drivers were also advised to clear their windscreen of ice before travelling, to reduce their speed and allow more distance for braking between cars.

As well as the disruption to schools and roads, the arctic weather has left thousands without power.

Northern Ireland Electricity reported “widespread damage” across the network, with electric lines and poles brought down in areas like Dromore.

Many homes were affected in south eastern part region, with multiple outages in coastal areas of Co Down like Kilkeel, Annalong, Portaferry and Holywood.

Problems were also reported in Belfast, Newry, Armagh, Lurgan and near Ballymena.

Several local councils had to close facilities and postpone bin collections, with Belfast City Council shutting the City Hall grounds, Belfast Zoo and sports pitches across the city.

Derry City and Strabane District Council closed a number of cemeteries as well as recycling centres.

In public transport, Translink reported multiple interruptions to scheduled bus and rail services while some disruptions for flights were reported at Belfast City and Belfast International Airports.

Department for Infrastructure spokesperson David Porter told BBC NI that although road conditions had improved throughout the day, temperatures were expected to drop below freezing heading into Saturday.

“Whilst we still have snow out and about, the forecast is for good, sunny spells today and we will see a thaw,” he said.

“Now that doesn’t mean we’re out of the woods completely because the weather forecast is showing we will get a dip in temperature tonight and we’re planning on doing some further gritting (on Saturday morning) to keep the roads as safe as they possibly can be for the travelling public.”