Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Icy blast from Siberia leaves Northern Ireland blanketed in snow

A motorist carefully driving on the icy roads on the hills outside Doagh, County Antrim
A flock of sheep grazing in the snow on the hills outside Doagh, County Antrim
Mourne Mountains by Stephen Black

Heavy snow has brought chaos to many parts of Northern Ireland.

The icy blast hit the province last night with heavy snow blanketing much of the province from 6.30pm onwards.

Roads Service said that major roads were gritted at 5pm yesterday in anticipation of plunging temperatures.

Heavy snow was reported on the Craigantlet Road in Co Down and the Pomeroy and Galbally Roads outside Dungannon.

Difficult driving conditions were also reported on the Belfast to Bangor Road.

Police had a warning out for motorists to only travel if completely necessary in the worst-affected areas.

Drivers were warned to exercise extreme caution with widespread black ice reported in Londonderry, Dungiven, Coleraine and Ballymoney.

There were also several reports of traffic collisions across Northern Ireland last night as the weather conditions worsened.

By 8.30pm the gritters were out again in the north west.

It’s unusual for the UK to be bombarded with such wintry weather so early in the season and that’s because the prevailing winds are sweeping in from the far north and Siberia instead of carrying in rains from the Atlantic to the west.

Britain has already faced massive disruption thanks to the earliest widespread snowfall for 17 years and the cold spell is expected to persist for around two weeks.

Meanwhile, severe weather warnings have been issued for much of Scotland this weekend — from Orkney to the southern borders, while warnings have also been issued for Wales and south-west England. The coldest recorded temperature on Thursday night was in Carterhouse in the Scottish

Borders, at minus 7.8C. In Northern Ireland Roads Service is warning of a bitter weekend ahead, followed by more of the same for at least the next week.

It is appealing to drivers to check the forecasts and drive accordingly.

Forecaster Tom Tobler of Meteogroup said temperatures last night were expected to dip to around minus 2C, with plenty of showers falling as sleet, with snow in higher places.

“It’s still showers rather than widespread snow. It will be heaviest in coastal areas, coming inland a bit as well. It will be fairly localised rather than widespread snow everywhere,” he said.

“This kind of weather can happen at this time of the year. It’s due to the northerly winds that we’ve got at the moment bringing the colder air down from the north.

“It’s very cold for this time of year, but it just so happened that it’s earlier this year than other years.

“Quite often through the autumn you get more westerly winds bringing more rain in from the west.

“But we’re getting towards the end of November so we’re heading into winter and we’ll tend to get more wintry weather at this time of year.

“It doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be cold from now on.”

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