Belfast Telegraph

Frustration at Belfast tailbacks after heavy rain strikes

By Rebecca Black

Commuters faced a frustrating drive into work yesterday as the first heavy rain of the year caused serious tailbacks.

One motorist travelling into Belfast yesterday morning described the M1 as "like a car park" after it ground to a halt through a combination of the weather and a minor crash.

Heavy rain hit from Wednesday evening and then overnight. The Met Office issued a 'yellow' weather warning yesterday at 9am which it said it expects to stay in place until 8am today, leading to fears of poor driving conditions for a second day in a row.

A Lisburn commuter who contacted the Belfast Telegraph said the M1 was frustratingly slow at 9.30am as he attempted to drive to work: "The M1 was like a car park ," Trevor Williams said.

"I had what I thought was a clever idea to come off and go on to the Lisburn Road, but that was worse as there were roadworks from Tate's Avenue. I went from the frying pan into the fire.

"The roads were wet and I think people were being very cautious, which slowed the traffic down."

Across south Belfast, a broken-down car at the Ormeau Bridge also caused long tailbacks while the Bangor dual carriageway was noticeably slower than normal.

Yesterday evening there was further chaos on the roads in Belfast as Upper Braniel Road was closed for a time due to a car crash, and a security alert in Finaghy closed the train line.

Roads expert Wesley Johnston said he saw a great deal of surface water on his morning commute from Belfast to Newtownards.

"When you have heavy rain, visibility goes down, people are probably being that little bit more cautious which means that one single vehicle less getting through a set of traffic lights can add up to quite a queue developing," he said.

"Perhaps drivers are being sensible in keeping their distance, which would reduce the capacity of the road network as well."

Heavy rain was set to continue overnight with up to 40mms and Met Office spokesman Dan Williams said the yellow weather warning for rain would continue until 8am today.

"We are expecting further rain overnight; it should start to dry out maybe in time for the morning rush hour," he said.

"It could be heavy, sometimes thundery, too. There could be a risk of localised flooding, and obviously heavy rain can make for some difficult driving conditions.

"The total amount of rain to expect is 40mms – a fair amount of rain in a 48-hour period, but to be expected at this time of year.

"After that Friday will be a pretty cloudy day, very overcast with some light showers or drizzle. Temperatures are still pretty mild with up to 17 degrees in Belfast."

Mr Williams added that September had been a much drier month than average.

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