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Fresh wave of blizzards will bypass Northern Ireland

AS the big freeze returns to the UK it looks as if Northern Ireland will have a lucky escape.

Images of snowmen and frozen lakes featured across the province in what was the coldest January for 31 years, but such extremes will not return this month, say forecasters.

Parts of Britain have seen snow showers and chilly temperatures this week amid Met office warnings of heavy snowfall today, with local authorities seeking more grit and salt supplies to cope with a possible return of roads chaos.

Roads Service gritters were out in force throughout the wintry period from late December until mid-January, salting roads at a cost of £150,000 a night across the province, while many schools were forced to close.

While overnight frost is expected this week, Northern Ireland’s westerly location will stand it in good stead against incoming snowy conditions, according to Billy Payne of weather forecasting agency Meteogroup.

“Because it is quite sheltered, with a lot of land mass between Northern Ireland and the North Sea, it will miss out on the snow showers affecting the rest of the UK,” he said. “At the minute it looks like the cold weather is going to hang around at least until the weekend.”

Some north coast residents were expected to have woken up to light sleet showers this morning, but daytime temperatures of 5C or 6C for the rest of the week will see off any chances of snow.

South-east England will be hardest hit today as high pressure brings easterly winds and snow showers over the North Sea but the Meteogroup forecaster said the weather conditions will not mirror the intensity of the big freeze of last month.

“We will not see the same amount of snow in the UK, definitely not on the same scale as last January,” he said.

While extreme snowstorms in America, labelled ‘Snowmageddon’ by President Obama, whose Washington White House home has never been whiter, were blamed for the return of cold weather in the UK, Barry Grommett from the Met Office said there is no connection.

He said: “America has a different weather system to the UK.

“There is not much truth in the idea that weather in America usually turns up in the UK five days later.”

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