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High winds and torrential rain batter Northern Ireland and there is more on way

By Linda Stewart

Published 27/01/2016

A workman tries to clear drains in the coastal village of Carnlough as waves crash over the sea wall yesterday
A workman tries to clear drains in the coastal village of Carnlough as waves crash over the sea wall yesterday
The vicious swell at Portstewart

High winds and torrential rain were last night expected across Northern Ireland as forecasters predicted Storm Jonas would bring flooding and disruption.

Gales of up to 60mph were expected to hit, according to the Met Office, which has issued a series of 'yellow' severe weather warnings.

Yesterday firefighters rescued a farmer after his 4x4 was swept away as he tried to cross the River Roe near Dungiven.

The victim escaped uninjured, but witnesses said that he was carried about 500 yards inside the vehicle.

Meanwhile, torrential rain combined with a tidal surge along Northern Ireland's coastline to cause travel disruption.

Both the Rathlin Island and Strangford Lough ferries were cancelled because of adverse weather conditions, including unusually high tides.

Belfast's Victoria Park was also closed for a time, as was Northern Road at the city's harbour.

Elsewhere difficult driving conditions were reported along the Portaferry Road on the Ards Peninsula.

Swanlinbar Road in Kinawley, Co Fermanagh, and Ferryhill Road in Cloughoge were closed for a time because of the flooding.

Yesterday saw winds gusting at 55mph at Magilligan in the north west, while Derrylin in Co Fermanagh and Murlough in Co Down each recorded 30mm of rain between midnight and mid-morning.

A lane restriction was put in place on the A2 Belfast Road at Whitehead after heavy rainfall caused a landslide.

The original stone embankment partially failed after it was undermined by the rainwater, the Roads Service said.

"A lane restriction is in place to protect road users from the risk of a further collapse, which may impact the road above," a spokesman added.

"Temporary traffic lights have been installed and will remain in place until engineering remedial measures are undertaken."

The Met Office said the overnight storm was expected to bring rainfall totals of 20-40mm fairly widely, with as much as 80mm of rain possible over high ground.

Forecaster Charles Powell added: "The remnants of the US snow storm when it arrives will be rain from first thing across western Scotland and Northern Ireland."

The Met Office warned that a deepening area of low pressure would cross the northern half of the UK this morning, bringing with it some heavy rain with the potential for snow as the system runs into the colder air over Scotland. "There is uncertainty over the exact track of the depression and therefore also where the heaviest rain will occur, as well as the extent of any snow," a spokesman added.

"Drier conditions are expected to reach Northern Ireland soon after rush hour and extend to much of Scotland by lunchtime.

"Please be aware of the potential for difficult travel conditions on Wednesday morning, mainly from surface water on roads."

The weather warning for later this week has been updated to highlight the fact that the rain is likely to start later on Thursday, although the main impacts are likely on Friday.

"Another area of low pressure is expected to move quickly east across the Atlantic later in the week, bringing a spell of very windy weather to all parts of the UK, whilst rain will be persistent and heavy over west facing hills," the spokesman said.

"Rainfall totals of 20-40 mm are expected fairly widely within the yellow area with as much as 80-100 mm possible over some high ground exposed to the southwest, mainly across northern England and Wales.

"The largest rainfall totals are likely over west and southwest facing hills.

"The rain will be accompanied by southwesterly gales which could become severe in exposed areas.

"Drier conditions are expected to reach many northern areas later on Friday whilst the rain may well continue into early Saturday across Wales.

"Please be aware of the risk of further localised flooding and potential impacts on travel," he added.

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