Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 31 August 2014

Paralysed by icy weather as temperatures hit -10c

Wintry conditions were set to cause more problems across Northern Ireland today as freezing weather refused to thaw.

The big chill continued to grip the province with heavy snowfall being replaced by freezing fog yesterday.

Thousands of motorists were warned to take extra care last night while driving as they faced icy roads and poor visibility in towns and cities across the country.

Gritters were set to salt the roads again as the Met warned that temperatures could dip last night to -10 in parts of Northern Ireland.

Weather experts also issued a serious weather warning that widespread ice will persist today, especially on many untreated roads and pavements.

“The public are advised to take extra care,” a Met Office spokesman said. The big freeze yesterday led to around 16 schools closing their doors across Northern Ireland with more expected to remain shut today.

At Belfast International Airport flights from Liverpool and Gatwick had to be cancelled yesterday due to the bad weather at those airports. They also had to take five diversions from Dublin on Wednesday night because of the snow.

Foggy conditions also led to Belfast City Airport having to divert some flights to the International Airport.

And as the cold snap is set to continue over the weekend, passengers are being advised to check with their airline regarding the status of the flight before making their way to the airport to avoid disappointments.

An airport spokesperson said: “In the last two weeks £250,000 has been spent on de-icing materials to ensure that Belfast International Airport kept Northern Ireland open for business.

“More than 150,000 passengers have used the airport in that time during one of the worst periods of ice and snow for 20 years.”

Farmers also warned that the crops still in the ground could be lost because of the cold. And Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride appealed for people to call in on vulnerable or elderly people during the cold snap to see if they’re all right.

“Cold weather can be especially dangerous for older people or those with serious illnesses and it claims lives every year.

“In particular it can make heart and respiratory problems worse,” he said.

The Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA), however, has called for the DRD to review their procedures in responding to the big chill.

NIIRTA Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said the big freeze is costing the local economy millions of pounds.

He added: “We would urge the DRD to re-examine their procedures and response to the big chill as many roads are still un-gritted which is resulting in our members’ staff struggling to get in to work, customers unable to get to shops and the impact on the supply chain. It has been estimated that this weather will cost the local economy over £14 million — all this in the middle of the recession.”

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