Weather warning: Snow alert for Northern Ireland upgraded to amber
Amber warning set to last from 5pm until 11am on Thursday morning
A weather warning for Northern Ireland has been upgraded to Amber as snow is expected to blanket areas across the country.
Police have warned motorists to exercise caution when driving in the wintry conditions.
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The amber alert issued is set to last from 5pm on Wednesday January 28 until 11am on Thursday morning.
A yellow alert currently in place is set to last until Thursday night but will be replaced by the Amber warning which begins this evening.
The Met Office has warned the public should be prepared for travel disruption and hazardous driving conditions.
Forecasters have said snow showers will become widespread and heavier across Scotland, Northern Ireland and northern England during Wednesday evening and will continue through the night into Thursday morning.
Snow amounts will be very variable but over 5 cm will accumulate at lower levels in places with over 15 cm on high ground. Strong and gusty winds will lead to drifting and blizzard conditions at times, especially over higher routes.
Following the severe weather forecast of snow and strong winds predicted Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE) has warned of possible damage to the electricity network, especially in exposed locations or higher ground.
A spokeswoman for NIE said if you lose electricity supplies you should contact NIE Helpline on 03457 643 643 or report the fault online at nie.co.uk.
Customers can also follow NIE on Twitter @NIElectricity for regular updates.
Salting of roads on the scheduled network is continuing this afternoon. Road users should exercise caution when travelling, particularly on untreated roads.
There have been reports of snow fall in some areas of Northern Ireland with areas of high ground expected to among the worst affected.
Police have issued the followings safety advice for motorists:
- Slow down and leave plenty of room to stop. You should allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you
- Brake gently to avoid skidding. If your wheels start to lock, ease off the brakes
- Turn on your lights to increase your visibility to other motorists and always clear all ice and snow off the car windows before setting out
- Drive slowly on snow in the highest gear possible
- Never overtake snowploughs or gritting lorries. The drivers have limited visibility, and you're likely to find the road in front of them worse than the road behind
- Do not assume your vehicle can handle all conditions. Even four-wheel drive vehicles can encounter trouble on winter roads
The UK is braced for more snow across large parts of the country, prompting warnings of travel disruption and health fears.
A cold weather front is to sweep in with temperatures expected to drop as much as 10C to below zero overnight into Thursday.
A Met Office yellow "be aware" warning is in place from noon for large parts of England, from the North West to East Anglia, and forecasters asked the public to be aware of possible disruption to travel, while health officials urged people to take extra care.
Around 3-8cm of snow is predicted to fall over parts of northern England, possibly reaching as far as Yorkshire and Humber and the Midlands, and up to 5-10cm of snow could blanket much of Scotland and Northern Ireland.
A Met Office forecast 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 primarily as snow and driven well inland by strong to gale force northwesterly winds.
"Commuters and other travellers seem likely to face a variety of winter hazards, especially later on Wednesday and early on Thursday, although it's likely that snowfall in some areas may be more patchy, particularly towards the east."
Billy Payne of forecaster MeteoGroup said: "We will certainly notice a drop in temperatures from in the region of 10C to, by the end of the day, 4C or 5C and widely dropping below zero overnight - down to minus 5C in high ground in the north."
While the cold weather is set to remain into early next week, Mr Payne said, it is unlikely the UK could experience an impact from the heavy blizzards hitting much of the north-eastern coast of the US.
Meanwhile, Dr Angie Bone, head of extreme events team at Public Health England, said: "In this sort of weather we know that older people and people in poor health tend to stay indoors.
"While this is sensible, it's worth remembering these people may need help getting to a hospital or GP appointment, with shopping or prescription fetching, or just someone to talk to. If you know someone in this situation, and most of us do, think about what you can you do to help out.
"Contrary to popular belief, it's actually working age adults who have most slips and trips outside in cold and icy weather, not older people, which is why it's important to wear shoes with a good, slip-resistant grip to prevent any accidental falls."
Belfast Telegraph Digital