Travel warning amid Christmas storm

Published Tuesday, 24 December 2013
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As a severe weather warning remains in place for gale force winds, police have issued a black ice warning to motorists travelling on Christmas Eve.

Travel warning amid Christmas storm
Snow on the hills outside Keady, Co Armagh. (© Philip Nugent)

Although the UK Met Office has downgraded Northern Ireland from Amber - the second highest warning - to Yellow 'Be Aware' over the storms, the forecasters are still warning the public of the potential for disruption to travel.

"An area of low pressure will bring strong winds to the area today. There is the likelihood of widespread gales, with gusts of 50's of mph inland and 65-75 mph on some coasts and hills."

The warning is in place until almost midnight. There is currently also a yellow warning in place for ice throughout the region, which lasts through to Christmas morning.

A yellow warning for snow was in place on Christmas Eve until 6pm.

The Met Office said: "Bands of wintry showers will feed eastwards across the area today (Tuesday), with the potential for a few centimetres of snow in places, largely above 200-300 m, but considerably more above 600 m in Scotland. Strong winds will also give rise to drifting and local blizzard conditions over higher ground."

Earlier, the Roads Service said that in south Tyrone, the Aughnacloy, Caledon and Dungannon areas were badly affected by black ice as was the Coleraine-Garvagh area of Co Londonderry.

On Tuesday morning, a spokesperson for the Road Service said: "There is a risk of ice and snow on roads and salting of roads on the scheduled network considered to be at risk is being undertaken this morning."

Motorists were reminded that due to the heavy rain being experienced across the province, the salt may not stay on the road surfaces.

"Wintry showers are however forecast to continue this morning and wash-off of salt may be an issue in some areas," the spokesperson continued.

"Motorists are advised to only travel if absolutely necessary and to exercise extreme caution on all roads if travelling."

The Foyle Bridge in Derry city was closed to all high-sided vehicles for most of the day, with a 30mph speed limit operating for all other vehicles. This was lifted on Tuesday afternoon.

Ferry services between Scotland and Northern Ireland were severely disrupted, with sailings from Cairnryan suspended until early afternoon. P&O sailings will start again on Thursday, Boxing Day, with an 8pm departure from Larne.

On the north Antrim coast, the Rathlin Island Ferry Service between the island and Ballycastle was cancelled for the day due to adverse weather conditions.

At Belfast City Airport, some flights to and from the UK and France were experiencing delays. While at Belfast International Airport, flights to and from London Gatwick were also running behind schedule.

Meanwhile, in Great Britain, four people have died in the stormy weather.

A man's body was pulled from the River Rothesay in Ambleside in Cumbria, while a woman died in a river in Gwynedd, North Wales.

A woman was killed in a car accident in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, last night and a man died in a multiple-collision crash near Bodmin in Cornwall on Sunday night.

Elsewhere, police have said that it is not yet known how long a body found in a stream in Shropshire had been in the water or whether the death was related to the recent weather conditions.

The Environment Agency issued hundreds of flood warnings across all of England and Wales, with a severe flood warning - the highest level, warning of danger to life - in south west England, where properties were expected to flood. There has also severe disruption to rail services and flights in the UK.

  • The NIE Customer Helpline can be reached in the event of an outage on 08457 643 643.
  • Stena Line passengers are advised to use the Ferrycheck service on 08705 755 755.
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