18,000 homes without power after snow

18,000 homes without power after snow

Around 18,000 homes and businesses remain without power in Northern Ireland following severe snowstorms, and around 1,000 customers are without water.

NI Electricity said power was restored to 17,000 families across the region on Saturday.

However some of the hardest-hit parts of Co Antrim and Co Down are still being affected, as crews struggle to access faults amid treacherous conditions. Restoration efforts will continue into the night.

Sara McClintock from NIE said: "Our duty incident team, call agents and network engineers will be working through the night to respond to customers and prepare work for crews to start working again at first light. Additional linesmen from ESB in ROI have arrived throughout the day, re-enforcing the teams of lines staff on the ground."

Heavy snow and strong winds have led to the worst power cuts the region has seen in 15 years.

NI Water said the outages have also caused problems for a number of its pumping stations, leaving around 1,000 with supply disruption.

A statement said: "NI Water can report that as a result of the power outages, a number of our Water Pumping Stations are experiencing intermittent power interruptions which are impacting on water supplies to customers.

"A number of customers in southern parts of Co Antrim and Co Down may experience low pressure or interruptions to their water supplies as a result of these power interruptions."

A yellow warning for snow ended at 12am, however the Met Office has issued a yellow warning for ice running to 9am on Sunday. And with bitterly cold conditions remaining and strong easterly winds, widespread frost and icy stretches are expected overnight.

The Roads Service has urged drivers to exercise caution.

"Motorists are advised to exercise extreme caution especially when travelling on untreated roads and to avoid the high ground routes where possible," a spokesman said.

Road temperatures are forecast to fall below freezing overnight giving a high risk of ice especially on untreated roads.

Roads Service

The Roads Service said salting and snow clearance continued into the night to clear the network.

"Work is planned to continue throughout tomorrow," they said.

"Motorists are asked to consider their need to travel in these areas and only do so if absolutely necessary. They should ensure that they are fully prepared for the journey in the event that they become stuck in the snow."

Many roads across NI were closed on Saturday, including several in the north-east which were left impassable due to heavy drifting of snow.

Other routes were affected by fallen trees, flooding and stranded vehicles.

Part of the M2 motorway, between Sandyknowes and Templepatrick, was closed for a time to facilitate emergency repair works however it has now reopened.

There was also severe flooding in Rostrevor and Warrenpoint in Co Down on Friday.

Fire crews were called after several houses became inundated with water, and a car had to pushed from flood water on the Rostrevor Road when a 50-year-old woman became trapped.

Crews also rescued a 50-year-old man whose car stopped in flood water in Newtownards on Saturday, while a special NIFRS rescue team had to use a water sledge to rescue a 40-year-old man who got stranded between the River Bann and the canal outside Portadown.

Over 100,000 homes and businesses have been affected by prolonged power cuts since the blizzard conditions began in the early hours of Friday.

NIE said all of its resources, including 140 extra line staff from the Republic of Ireland and Scotland, have been deployed, with engineers battling against harsh conditions.

We will continue with all of our efforts to restore all of our customers as soon as possible.

NIE

However NIE has warned that some areas could be off supply until the start of next week.

The company has now launched a helicopter patrol to check electricity lines which cannot be reached by road, passing vital information on to ground crews.

It is continuing to investigate a major blackout in the greater Belfast area, which left around 200,000 homes temporarily without power and also disrupted traffic lights.

NIE says serious damage to the network has been caused by cable icing and trees bringing down lines and breaking poles, with the clean-up operation likely to take a number of days.

BT said some of its services have also been affected by the weather.

A statement explained: "Power outages are affecting some fibre broadband cabinets, and we are utilising emergency generators where possible in telephone exchanges to sustain service to our customers until power is restored.

"However, conditions remain treacherous for our engineering and service teams and in some instances, locations can only be reached by foot, impacting their ability to permanently repair faults and restore service. We continue to deploy all resources available to us to work through the increased number of fault reports we have received."

Northern Ireland's airports remained open throughout the day however passengers were warned to expect delays as a knock-on effect of Friday's disruption.

"Weather could still have an impact on flights," Belfast International Airport said on Saturday night.

Translink also warned customers that some services could be hit by delays or cancellations.

© UTV

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