Storm Desmond: Warnings of possible blackouts in Northern Ireland as wind and rain batters UK
Northern Ireland Electricity has warned of possible blackouts as Storm Desmond hits the UK over the weekend.
The warning comes after the Met Office issued a yellow warning for severe wind and rain across Northern Ireland.
Forecasters have predicted heavy downpours and strong winds, with people warned to prepare for flooding in some areas in the west of the province, including the Sperrins and Co Fermanagh.
Motorists have also been warned to be aware of difficult driving conditions, and the risk of travel disruption.
Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE) said there was a possibility of damage to the electricity network, especially in exposed and coastal locations, due to the expected severe weather.
NIE added they had put emergency crews, engineers and call handlers on stand-by.
Company spokesman Ruadhrai O'Kane urged members of the public to think about their personal safety should power be disrupted.
"If there is damage to our network from the weather, our emergency crews will be in position to get customers back on supply as quickly as possible, consistent with safety," he said.
"We are keen to stress our safety message to stay well away from broken power lines or electricity poles and report any damage immediately. If you are without power, make sure you take a few simple precautions to keep you and your family safe." They include:
- Never approach broken lines or damaged poles, and keep children and animals away.
- Report damage to NIE Networks on 03457 643 643
- Turn off cookers, ovens, irons if electricity supply is lost
- Leave a light switched on so you know when power has been restored
- Take extra care if using candles, oil lamps or other naked flames and never leave a burning candle unattended
- Test smoke alarms
- Ensure there is adequate ventilation if using gas heaters.
- Customers should also ensure they have batteries for radios.
If people do lose power supply, they can contact the NIE Helpline on 03457 643 643 or report the fault at nienetworks.co.uk. Regular updates on the power situation can also be found on Twitter via @NIElectricity.
Meanwhile, across the UK road have been closed throughout the North and Scotland as Storm Desmond caused road chaos, landslides and flooding.
A jack-knifed FedEx lorry hit the central reservation on the M8 at Bathgate, West Lothian, closing lanes in both directions.
A landslide from a hill above Altura, in the Highlands, dumped at least 200 tonnes of debris on the A82 between Spean Bridge and Invergarry overnight.
A 15-mile (24km) stretch of the A82 was closed as a result of the landslide and several areas of flooding between Invergloy and Letter Finlay.
A geotechnical engineer was dispatched to gauge the safety of commencing a clear-up operation, and traffic was diverted via the A86 and A9.
Trunk road operator Bear Scotland's team were out throughout the night dealing with numerous issues of flooding, debris on the road and fallen trees across the North West.
There was also flooding on the A85 at Loch Lubhair, south of Crianlarich.
The road was passable with care but the water level of the loch has continued to rise.
The A924 slip road into Pitlochry from the A9 is closed due to the River Tummel bursting its banks.
Motorists have been advised to use alternative routes into Pitlochry.
All other roads remain open but motorists have been warned of further heavy rain today and surface water issues across the network.
Eddie Ross, Bear Scotland's operating company representative for north west Scotland, said: "It has been a very busy night for our dedicated teams.
"We will work today in an effort to reopen the A82 and will issue further updates. I would thank motorists for their patience and ask that they keep advised through the Traffic Scotland Website and their Twitter feed."
Elsewhere, the M90 was closed between junctions 8 and 9 due to flooding near Glenfarg in Perthshire.
The existing culvert is experiencing a large volume of water flowing from adjacent land, causing the road to flood.
Bear Scotland used pumps in an attempt to alleviate the flooding, and traffic was diverted via the A91 and A912.
The M9 was closed eastbound from junction 11 at the Keir Roundabout to junction 9 due to flooding.
Traffic Scotland received reports of heavy surface water and flooding on A977 on the approach to the Clackmannanshire Bridge at the Gartarry Roundabout.
Meanwhile, the Forth Road Bridge remains closed until the new year for maintenance after structural faults were discovered last week.
Highways England issued a Severe Weather Alert for high-sided vehicles, caravans and motorcycles in the North, with an increased risk of vehicles being blown over.
The A66 was closed to high-sided and vulnerable vehicles between the junctions of the A67 near Bowes in County Durham and the A685 at Brough in Cumbria.
Travellers have been advised that the A69 and M62 Trans-Pennine routes remain open to all traffic.
The A19 Tees Viaduct in Middlesbrough was closed to high-sided and vulnerable vehicles in both directions between A66 and A1046, due to strong winds. Local diversions were in place.
The Met Office has an amber "be prepared" warning for rain in place for Saturday and the early part of Sunday across the Strathclyde, Central, Tayside and Fife, Lothian and Borders and south west of Scotland areas.
Parts of the North West and North East of England are also covered by the alert, which cautioned that up to 7.9in (200mm) of rain could fall on high ground.
The Met Office said: "Be prepared for the likelihood of flooding affecting properties and parts of communities. Watercourses may become dangerous, deep and fast-flowing, while some transport disruption seems likely."
Its chief forecaster warned that the spell of heavy rain and strong winds would be "prolonged".
Forecasters said rainfall of 2.4in to 3.9in (60mm to 100mm) is likely quite widely in the amber zones, with some mountainous areas seeing in excess of 5.9in (150mm) over a 30-hour period, perhaps even reaching 7.9in (200mm).
It comes after yellow "be aware" warnings for wind and rain were in place on Friday across much of Scotland, Northern Ireland, the North of England and North Wales.
By late Friday, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) had 15 flood alerts in place around the country and multiple flood warnings in Tayside, the Borders and Easter Ross and the Great Glen.
South of the border, the Environment Agency has flood warnings and alerts in place in the Midlands, Wales and the North East and North West of England.
Marc Becker, hydrology duty manager for Sepa, said on Friday: "Flooding is expected to affect many central and southern parts of Scotland, which could affect communities and cause travel disruption across many areas of Scotland over the coming days.
"River levels in the Tay, Clyde and Tweed catchments are already high and are expected to rise considerably in the next 24 hours.
"Over the coming days we will continue to monitor levels and update the public on our latest forecasts via social media and Floodline. We would encourage members of the public to remain vigilant and be mindful of the conditions in their locality and when travelling."
RAC spokesman Simon Williams said anyone driving in Scotland on Sunday may be faced with "extremely challenging conditions" with possible flooding, wind damage debris and more high winds.
He said: "Motorists encountering floodwater on the road should think twice before trying to drive through. Water getting sucked into engines can cause catastrophic damage which could lead to a frightening repair bill at the most expensive time of year or even an insurance write-off.
"If you are at all unsure how deep a flood is, the best advice is to err on the side of caution and take another route."
Police have also urged caution. A spokesman said: "In anticipating that there may be areas of flooding, Police Scotland would also advise that you are mindful of the road conditions and drive accordingly.
"Allow plenty of time for your journey and ensure that you keep up to date with local travel news."
Scottish Environment Minister Aileen McLeod said the Scottish Government and Transport Scotland are closely monitoring the situation, supporting the efforts of local authorities and the emergency services.