Belfast Telegraph

Heavy rain and gales as rain warning upgraded to Amber - flooding across Northern Ireland

By Claire Williamson

Get your umbrellas at the ready.

Northern Ireland is bracing itself as a weather warning for rain across central parts of the country has been upgraded to Amber.

There are already reports of serious flooding across Northern Ireland.

Parts are said to be under three feet of water due to heavy rain.

The warning is in place from 2.30pm today until 6pm this evening but another warning is to be expected on Friday.

Parked cars have been stranded, shops and houses sand-bagged and traffic diverted in Newry, Co Down.

An area of Belfast close to the Lagan River has also been affected.

Newry and Mourne councillor John McArdle said he was wading through water in his Wellington boots, and added: "You would think you are in Venice, that's what it is like."

Police described Bridge Street through Newry as "impassable" to traffic.

Mr McArdle claimed he had never seen flooding like it, and added that two main shopping centres in the city were also badly affected.

A number of other roads have been closed, with the Lisburn and Moira area west of Belfast badly hit.

Police are advising motorists that the Hillhall Road, Lisburn, is flooded in both directions.

The rain has been accompanied by gales in places.

In the worst affected areas there could be up to 50mm of rainfall.

The torrential rain is likely to be accompanied by gales in places with gusts of 60mph in exposed parts of the east this week.

Police are advising motorists throughout Northern Ireland to exercise "extreme caution" when driving this afternoon and evening due to the heavy rain.

They have advised drivers to reduce speed, keep a safe distance and allow extra braking time and to use headlights.

A frontal system will produce a period of persistent, and at times heavy rain before clearing to the north early evening.

Following recent wet weather, the Met Office has advised the public to be aware of the continuing risk of flooding from this next batch of heavy rain, due to already saturated ground.

A spokeswoman for the Met Office said: "This is because we have the frontal system is moving slowly across Northern Ireland is bringing heavy bands of rain.

"We are expecting between 20 and 30mm quite widely during this period and even as high as up to 50mm in some places.

"There is the risk of flooding, there are lots of leaves around fallen from trees which exacerbates the issue a little bit as well.

"The ground is quite sodden already and with a lot more rainfall the drainage isn't as good."

In the event of flooding, if anyone is in need of rescue dial 999 otherwise telephone the Flooding Incident Line on 0300 2000 100. The Flooding Incident Line provides the public with a single point of contact to report that their property is flooded or flooding.

A number of roads have already been closed due to the heavy downpours. They include the Hillhall Road in Lisburn and Bridge Street in Newry.

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