Belfast Telegraph

Snow falls in parts of Northern Ireland after thousands left without electricity after high winds

By Linda Stewart

Some across Northern Ireland have woken up this morning to scattering of snow right across the province.

It's a chilly start to the weekend, but the snow comes after thousands of homes were left without power yesterday morning after gusts of up to 85mph raked Northern Ireland.

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Parts of the UK are braced for further weather-related trouble amid warnings that a wintry mix of high winds, snow and ice could create difficult driving conditions and disrupt power supplies.

In Northern Ireland, Orkney and Shetland, and the north of England, the snow and wind warnings are at the lesser yellow "be aware" stage.

On the amber warnings, the Met Office said: "Frequent snow showers are expected overnight and well into Saturday, heavy at times, with some more prolonged spells of snow likely.

"Five to 10cm snowfall is likely to accumulate quite widely, with over 15cm in places above 300 metres. Ice is also likely to form on untreated surfaces.

"In addition, gusts of 50-60mph are likely at times, occasionally 70mph across the far north and west of the amber area and over mountains. This will lead to blizzard conditions at times and drifting of snow.

"Power supplies may be disrupted by ice accretion and also by lightning strikes, with hail also likely.

"Be prepared for transport disruption, difficult driving conditions and disruption to power supplies."

Meanwhile, fallen trees brought down electricity lines across the country, leaving almost 20,000 homes in the dark.

NIE Network staff battled round the clock to get power restored after Storm Gertrude swept into Northern Ireland, causing particular disruption in counties Tyrone, Londonderry and Antrim. Smaller faults also cut off power in exposed rural and coastal locations in counties Down and Antrim.

At its height, the storm cut off power to around 19,000 homes, but by teatime yesterday, electricity had been restored to 17,000 of them.

NIE Networks said the damage included trees falling across power lines and broken electricity poles. Emergency crews battled to replace broken poles, clear trees and branches and replace and reconnect overhead power lines as part of a widespread effort to restore supply. 

The company opened its main incident centre in Craigavon, as well as local escalation bases, and said winds were high and working conditions difficult. 

Julia Carson, NIE Networks communications manager, added: "We were in regular contact with the Met Office and had mobilised NIE Networks emergency crews, engineers and call handlers in preparation for any damage the severe weather may cause." 

Trees were brought down across Northern Ireland, blocking roads and disrupting traffic.

Fallen trees damaged cars and electricity lines in Plumbridge, Co Tyrone.

A tree also fell on a car on the Mullagh Road in Maghera. While the driver suffered minor cuts and bruises, he was able to walk away from the vehicle.

Forecasters Meteogroup said snow showers - even at lower locations and particularly in the west of Northern Ireland - and widespread gales were expected over the next few days.

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