Brace yourself: high winds may have eased but 70mph Storm Emily is on the way
Published 16/12/2013 | 01:30
A huge storm bringing gale force winds and downpours is set to batter Northern Ireland this week.
Storm Emily is expected to wreak havoc when it hits the UK with weather experts warning of gusts in excess of 100mph.
While Scotland and the north of England will be worst hit, Northern Ireland is set for gales of up to 70mph on Thursday.
A severe weather warning has been issued ahead of the storm, which has the potential to seriously disrupt travel, uproot trees and rip roof tiles from properties.
The weather system has been named Storm Emily after Emily Brontë, the author who died on December 19, 165 years ago, and who wrote Wuthering Heights which featured constant stormy weather.
George Goodfellow, a forecaster with MeteoGroup, told the Belfast Telegraph wind speeds will pick up from late Wednesday evening. "There will be really strong winds throughout Thursday for much of Northern Ireland," he said. "We are predicting anything up to 70mph.
"The temperature will probably be in and around six or seven degrees centigrade though it will feel colder with the wind.
"We are also expecting some heavy rain." Mr Goodfellow said it was difficult to predict how long the stormy weather would continue, but said the wet and windy conditions look set to remain in the run-up to Christmas.
Until Wednesday evening Northern Ireland is set for highly changeable weather, with a mixture of short sunny spells and heavy downpours expected.
Gale force winds caused traffic and travel disruption as they lashed Northern Ireland over the weekend. The Met Office issued a weather warning for Saturday and yesterday after widespread gales were forecast for Saturday along with heavy rain.
Northern Ireland Electricity was on standby for two days while road, air and sea travel faced disruption. All sailings between Rathlin Island and Ballycastle were cancelled on Saturday, as well as a morning sailing from Liverpool to Belfast.
The Foyle Bridge in Londonderry was closed to high-sided vehicles for several hours while all other traffic was restricted to a 30mph speed limit.
Two flights were diverted from City of Derry Airport to Belfast International Airport.
And in Omagh, Market Street was closed for a while after part of a supermarket roof was blown off. The street was reopened after the Fire Service removed the debris. The high winds eased across many parts of the province last night.
Earlier this month 30,000 homes across Northern Ireland were left without power when high winds tore down electricity poles. There was travel chaos as flights were delayed, sailings cancelled and numerous roads closed due to falling trees. The Christmas Market at Belfast City Hall was closed due to safety concerns.