Northern Ireland weather alert: Arctic blast bringing fresh snow
The big freeze maintained its grip on Northern Ireland as temperatures plunged to -9 degrees overnight.
An Arctic blast was expected to bring fresh snow today, blanketing the whole of the province and causing further misery for motorists and commuters.
Forecasters are predicting the cold snap will continue into the weekend.
Temperatures plummeted as low as -12C on Wednesday night and between two and five centimetres of snow is predicted to fall across the province today.
The sub-zero temperatures have caused travel chaos for thousands of people.
Schools in Co Down and Co Armagh were forced to close yesterday. And flights into and out of Dublin Airport were suspended as snow and ice continued to cause disruption.
City of Derry Airport remained open but passengers have been warned to check with their airlines in case of problems elsewhere. Both Belfast airports remained open but had some flights affected.
Michael Dukes, forecaster with Meteogroup, told the Belfast Telegraph the cold weather will continue today.
“There will be a fresh band of snow coming into the west which will spell trouble for the rush hour and will spread across the province,” he said.
“The front is coming in from the Atlantic so it is a different direction from the snow the province has been experiencing, which has been the north-east.
“It looks like it will give around 2-5cms across Northern Ireland tomorrow morning, which is not particularly deep, but coming at the rush hour with low temperatures spells trouble.”
The temperatures will creep up in the afternoon but will refreeze overnight.
A computer glitch, meanwhile, prevented 13,700 people in Northern Ireland getting cold weather benefits.
Thousands of people did not receive their payment on Wednesday but are being reassured by the Department for Social Development they will have it by this Tuesday. The glitch originated at the central processing centre in Norcross, England.
The people affected are in an area serviced by the Katesbridge weather station in Banbridge — close to where a new record low temperature was recorded.
Department for Social Development Minister Alex Attwood said: “It is disappointing that this mistake was made at the central processing centre in England.
“I have directed my officials in the Social Security Agency to act immediately on this issue.
“They have sought and received assurances that all measures necessary to avoid repetition of this have been taken and are continuing to monitor the situation.
“I sympathise with all those people who were awaiting their Cold Weather Payment and didn’t receive it.”
Payments will now be received by those affected by December 7.
It has also been discovered that a small number of people received outdated Cold Weather Payment cheques in the Fermanagh, Strabane and Cookstown areas.