Belfast Telegraph

Northern ireland braced for gales and heavy snowfalls

Transport disruption feared as severe weather warning is issued

By Linda Stewart

It could be time to invest in a sturdy shovel - blizzards are on the way.

The Met Office has issued a severe weather warning as a fresh north-westerly flow brings snowfalls of 10cm or more on high ground.

Travel disruption is expected as snow falls to between 5-10cm deep in Northern Ireland, even on low ground.

And the winter woes will be exacerbated by gusty winds and poor visibility, bringing temporary blizzards over higher ground.

A Met Office spokesman said: "An active cold front is expected to push south-east across the UK during Wednesday, introducing an increasingly cold and unstable air mass.

"Showers will become frequent and heavy, falling as snow and driven well inland by strong to gale force north-westerly winds."

Forecasters warned that the cold and increasingly showery air flow predicted to develop during Wednesday will continue through Thursday.

"Accumulating snow is likely away from windward coastal districts, especially overnight. Over Scotland and Northern Ireland 5-10cm is likely even at low levels, with falls of over 10cm on high ground," the Met Office said.

"Strong and gusty winds will likely accompany snow showers, and lead to significantly reduced visibility at times, difficult driving conditions and temporary blizzards over high ground. The public should be aware of the potential for disruption to travel."

Forecasters said that temperatures for many people in Northern Ireland will be below normal for the time of year and the wind chill factor created by strong breezes will make it feel even colder.

The chilly weather is in part due to a shift in the jet stream - a forceful air current in the atmosphere - but the Met Office says reports that a displaced Polar Vortex is responsible are incorrect.

"The large-scale low pressure area in the stratosphere, known as the Polar Vortex, is displaced towards Russia and looks likely to stay that way over the next few days," a spokesman said.

"However, this is not directly responsible for changes in the weather during the coming days. The cold northerly winds we are expecting at the end of the week are not unusual for winter.

"The jet stream is forecast to move south of the UK from Wednesday onwards. This means we will be on the 'cold side' of the jet and cold air from the poles and Arctic will work its way southwards to affect the UK," the spokesman said.

Meanwhile, the massive snowstorm threatening the north east of the USA is not on its way to the UK, the Met Office said.

"It is expected to move away from the States, crossing the Atlantic to the south of the UK to bring heavy rain to Spain and Portugal at the end of the week," a spokesman said.

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