Belfast Telegraph

First winter snow brings chaos to Northern Ireland airport and roads

By Amanda Poole

It's here we go again as the first day of snow brought chaos to Northern Ireland overnight yesterday.

While we are not quite experiencing the catastrophe caused by the harsh weather last December, officially the coldest on record, the sleet and snow has already started to impact on day-to-day life here.

There were traffic jams as drivers struggled with the conditions while there were delays for air passengers as de-icing equipment failed at Belfast City George Best Airport.

Ironically one of the first major casualties was Belfast Zoo which was forced to close, making it impossible to see the penguins frolicking in their natural elements.

Belfast Zoo curator Alyn Cairns told the Belfast Telegraph that heavy snow forced the zoo to shut and that any decisions regarding further closures will be made on a day-to-day basis.

He explained that many of the animals living in the zoo at the foot of the Cave Hill in north Belfast are enjoying the cold snap.

“The penguins are loving all this,” he said. “They have made slides to lead them into the water.

“The elephants like rolling snowballs with their trunks and creating mounds of snow to stand on. We haven’t seen any snowball fights just yet.”

Mr Cairns said marmosets and delicate species from typically hot countries are being monitored and given extra bedding and food where required.

Meanwhile, Flybe experienced technical issues with its de-icing equipment yesterday morning at Belfast City Airport.

Passengers flying to London Gatwick, Southampton, Newcastle, Birmingham, East Midlands, Manchester, Leeds and Glasgow were delayed by the malfunction, and the 10.20am flight to Scotland’s second city was cancelled.

The City Airport de-icers are contracted to deal with BMI and BMI Baby flights, but became available to Flybe once contractual obligations were met.

The Met Office has issued a severe weather warning for today.

A statement from the chief forecaster said: “Although wintry showers will be more frequent in the north and west, the strong westerly winds will push some of these across to the east as well.

“While many of the showers at low levels will be of rain or sleet this will increase the risk of ice on untreated surfaces. On higher ground in the north an additional 2cm to 5cm of snowfall is likely.” Nick Prebble, a forecaster with the Meteogroup, said the coldest place in Northern Ireland yesterday was Killylane at -1.1C and the highest temperature was 4.3C at Magilligan.

“Today will feel a little milder,” he said.

“By tomorrow and Thursday conditions will be milder with temperatures peaking at around 10C. The end of the week will be chillier. Into the weekend there is a chance of wintry showers.”

The Roads Service has been salting the roads since Sunday.





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