Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Northern Ireland colder than Moscow

Ormeau Embankment, Belfast by Belfast Telegraph reader Philip McErlean
Evelyn McCullough - Arctic conditions in Portstewart
Scrabo Hill. By Jim Devlin Dundonald

The Arctic blast gripping Northern Ireland has led to areas experiencing bitter temperatures even colder than Moscow.

The end of year freeze has resulted in parts of the province being on a par with cities across the world used to battling sub-zero temperatures annually.

Reykjavik, Helsinki, Toronto and St Petersburg in Russia were last night all warmer than Northern Ireland as weather experts forecast temperatures in the province were set to plummet to -18C overnight. According to the Met Office, Moscow was to drop to -9C last night, 9C warmer than Northern Ireland.

Even St Petersburg was set to experience -15C — three degrees above the province.

In fact Northern Ireland was due to have the same freezing conditions as Oslo, which was forecast to drop to -18C overnight.

Icy and treacherous weather have left hundreds of thousands of people battling through biting sub-zero temperatures causing chaos on the roads and travel.

Temperatures dipped to their lowest on record in the province on Sunday with -18C recorded at Castlederg, County Tyrone.

And the cold conditions are due to stay for the next few days.

Today frost will be widespread along with patchy, freezing fog.

A few snow showers are expected around the coast. Temperatures will only reach a maximum of -2C.

Helen Chivers, forecaster with the Met Office, explained why Northern Ireland is experiencing such cold weather.

“On this occasion the deep snow cover of some 15-18cm, light and calm winds and the longest nights of the year have all helped to produce the ideal conditions for the extreme low temperatures we're seeing,” she said.

“Castlederg in particular is a site which sits in a valley aspect with gently sloping high ground around the site.

“It’s a classic cold air drainage spot which is why it’s prone to such low temperatures.”

Ms Chivers said December 2010 is “likely” to be the coldest since national records began in 1910.

“However, we will have to wait until the month is over before we can state exactly how this December will be measured against the historical record,” she added.

“Taken in the context of historical records, the prolonged snowfall and low temperatures witnessed during the last few weeks are very unusual but not unprecedented.”

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