Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Northern Ireland weather alert as gales down trees and power lines

Waves break over the harbour wall at Portstewart, in County Londonderry. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday December 8, 2011. Winds of up to 100mph have been forecast, with the strongest gusts expected to hit the west of Scotland and the central belt from 12pm, and from 3pm in the east, hitting rush-hour traffic.

Wild weather caused major disruption across Northern Ireland yesterday as gale force winds of up to 80mph battered our shores.

The north coast area was worst affected by the storms, although fallen trees caused headaches for motorists in every county.

The Gilford Road in Portadown, the Craigdarragh Road in Helen's Bay and the Kings Road in east Belfast were among the routes closed for a time when they became blocked by fallen trees.

Police also asked motorists to avoid the Middle Tollymore Road in Newcastle when trees came down, and the Lisnahunshin Road in Rasharkin was closed by a fallen power line.

Stenaline sailings between Belfast and Cairnryan were cancelled and other sailings were subject to major delays.

The ferry crossing between Ballycastle and Rathlin Island had to be cancelled as conditions were too hazardous, with mountainous seas and high winds.

In the north west, ferocious gales caused schools to be evacuated and bridges to be cordoned off, leading to traffic gridlock across the region.

Lisnagelvin Leisure Centre in the Waterside was closed after gusts of wind caused substantial damage to its roof.

Some 628 pupils from Lisnagelvin Primary and Nursery Schools had to be sent home at lunchtime yesterday because of falling debris.

The principal of Lisnagelvin Primary School, Colin Torrens, said they took the decision after police officers produced a large piece of jagged perspex which had been blown into the nursery school yard.

The Peace Bridge across the Foyle was also closed yesterday for

the first time since its completion in June for health and safety reasons.

Trees and shrubs were felled by the winds in Derry at Nixon’s Corner, Northland Road and Strand Road opposite the Derry city council offices.

In Co Donegal, gusts of 90mph were recorded sweeping across Malin Head.

Helen Rossington, a forecaster with Meteogroup, said the strongest winds in Northern Ireland were in exposed areas, but gusts in Belfast managed to reach around 60mph.

“Today it will be quite breezy, but not as bad as Thursday,” she said.

“Gusts will be towards 40mph with wind and showers from the north west.

“There could be sleet and hail over higher ground and the maximum temperature will be around 9-11C.

“There will be widespread frost overnight into Saturday, with temperatures down to 1C.”

Up to 4cm of snow is expected to fall on the hills today and the Met Office has issued a yellow severe weather warning for Northern Ireland, urging people to “be aware” of ice.

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