Plummeting temperatures — bringing more than a touch of frost — will be the theme of the coming week as it emerged that last month was the coldest December in Northern Ireland since 1981.
The heavy snows which gave us a white pre-Christmas are not expected to return — although some light sleet and snow showers expected towards the north coast were likely to edge south later today.
The Met Office said there would be “no let-up” in the wintry period between tomorrow and Thursday, with daytime temperatures of around three degrees. Bright spells will be mixed with scattered snow showers and severe frosts inland.
The freeze continued to cause problems for motorists and black ice on a south Belfast street caused two lorries to crash on Saturday morning. A lorry driver crashed into the garden of a house in Windsor Avenue. A wooden pole smashed through his cab, just missing his face. He was not seriously injured. A second lorry driver in the same street crashed into a telecommunications box.
Yesterday a man crashed his car on the Stranmillis Embankment at the bottom of Ridgeway Street.
The continued cold snap follows confirmation that last month was the coldest December in nearly 30 years. Armagh Observatory said the month’s average temperature was 1.5 degrees, the coldest since 1981.
Yet last month also boasted sunnier weather than usual and nearly 54 hours of sunshine, about 40% more than is usual for the winter months.
Snow fell on seven days, from December 18 to 23 and again on December 30.
But the year was also the most sodden since 1981, with rainfall 10% higher than average.
Meanwhile, Northern Ireland Water said “significant” progress had been made in its efforts to restore water to homes in the north and west. Just two properties in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, and one in Ballygawley, Co Tyrone, were having problems with their supply. The company, which has received nearly 14,000 emergency calls and repaired over 50 burst watermains since Sunday, said anyone with supply problems should contact its emergency number on 08457 440088.
“Our teams of staff will continue to work day and night throughout Northern Ireland locating and repairing burst pipes as the cold weather continues. It is still vital members of the public follow the advice we have issued and help us in the location and isolation of bursts on private and public land,” a spokesperson said.
NI Water has produced a short video on Youtube.com/northernirelandwater to show customers how to find pipes which can potentially freeze.
Celine Rodgers, head of external communications at NI Water, said: “We would encourage our customers to watch the video and take the time to ensure their pipes are protected.”
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