Batten down the hatches: Weather alert as Storm Barbara batters Northern Ireland
Homes across Northern Ireland could be at risk of power failure today with Storm Barbara expected to cause high winds of up to 70mph.
Two yellow weather warnings have been issued by the Met Office for the weekend, which, added to the chaotic Christmas conditions, could lead to power failures, travel disruption and structural damage. The first yellow warning of wind comes into force this morning and lasts until midnight, with the turbulent weather predicted to return on Christmas Day from 3am to 6pm.
Northern Ireland Electricity has said it is prepared for blackouts and has initiated an escalation plan with emergency crews, engineers and call handlers on standby.
Julia Carson, NIE networks communications manager, said: "If there is any damage to our network from severe weather, we are prepared and we'll be doing all we can to restore power as quickly and safely as possible."
She added: "We are particularly keen to stress our regular safety message that on no account should anyone ever approach a broken pole or electricity line. Keep away and report the damage immediately to NIE Networks on 03457 643 643."
Ferry companies have also urged passengers to keep checking their websites for information about potential disruption to crossings.
Irish Ferries has cancelled three crossings today from Dublin to Holyhead leaving at 8.45am, 10.45am and 2.30pm.
The 8.15am Dublin to Holyhead ferry on Christmas Eve has also been listed as being "in doubt".
Updates can be found at www.irishferries.com/sailingupdate