Belfast Telegraph

More warnings after major snowfall

Heavy snow warnings have been issued in Co Londonderry, Co Antrim and Co Down after the biggest snowfall in living memory in Northern Ireland caused chaos across the country.

Belfast International, George Best City and City of Derry airports were at a standstill, affecting passengers including students attending universities in Britain hoping to get home early for the Christmas and new year break.

Up to 700 schools were forced to shut and on what was supposed to be the busiest day of the year for hotels, bars and restaurants, office and works parties had to be cancelled.

Motorways and most main roads stayed open, but motoring organisations said traffic conditions were the worst in years, especially in rural areas where minor roads had to be left ungritted.

Motorists were warned to venture out only if absolutely necessary. Learner drivers had to rearrange driving tests.

The North West was among the hardest hit areas - the mountainous Londonderry-Coleraine road was closed - and with overnight temperatures expected to drop to as low as minus 10C, the Met Office issued heavy snow warnings in Co Londonderry, Co Antrim and Co Down.

The Department of Environment said all staff as well as their gritters and snowblowers were working round the clock and that three or four times the normal salt supplies were needed to treat the roads.

Bus and rail services were also badly disrupted.

All outdoor sports events, including horse racing at Downpatrick were called off. Weekend football, rugby, hockey and gaelic games were postponed. All visits to Maghaberry Prison, near Lisburn, Co Antrim, were suspended.

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