Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland weather warning of snow, blizzards and strong winds from Arctic front

By Sophie Inge

Motorists in Northern Ireland have been warned to take care as strong winds and snow showers sweep in from the Arctic.

According to the Met Office, the snow flurries are expected to develop from the early hours of Wednesday morning into Thursday. And in Co Antrim and Co Down further snow is likely on Friday.

Disruption to transport is possible due to lying and blowing snow, the Met Office warned.

"Wind gusts up to 55mph are expected in exposed coastal areas and on hills in association with snow showers, leading to temporary blizzard conditions," the forecaster said.

"As well as reduced visibility, 2-5cm of snow could accumulate anywhere within the warning area, with 10-20cm possible above 300m.

"Lightning may accompany the heaviest showers, with potential disruption to power supplies as a consequence."

However Tom Whittaker, a meteorologist at MeteoGroup, said that snow "is fairly likely, but I don't think it will amount to anything too significant". 

"In the worst case, across the top of the hills, it could be a centimetre or two," Mr Whittaker said.

"But I think we will definitely see some snow flurries at times - especially on Thursday going into Friday, when the really cold air sinks southwards from the north and north west."

Davy Jackson, vice chair of Road Safe NI, asked motorists to be vigilant.

"Be mindful of the road conditions when you drive," Mr Jackson urged.

"Bad weather is often blamed for causing accidents.

"However, the real cause is often inappropriate driving for the conditions that exist. Ice and snow can increase stopping distances by up to 10 times, so keep well back from the vehicle in front.

"Anticipate when you will need to be stopping and be alert to other road users. When the roads are icy, drive at a slow speed in as high a gear as possible; accelerate and brake very gently."

He added: "High-sided vehicles are most affected by windy weather; if you're driving a high-sided vehicle, be cautious of other road users and plan your journey to avoid areas that may be closed to high-sided vehicles such as bridges.

"If you're a driver and passing a high-sided vehicle in windy weather, do so with caution as they can be blown into your path by sudden gusts of wind."

He also advised drivers to keep an emergency kit in their car in extreme weather.

These include an ice scraper and de-icer; a shovel for the snow; a torch and spare batteries; warm clothes, boots and a blanket; some food and a warm drink in a flask; a first aid kit; battery jump leads, as well as a map or device with offline maps for any unplanned diversions.

The cold snap is set to continue this weekend, with night-time temperatures just above freezing point.

For more information go to www.metoffice.gov.uk

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