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Cold comfort -- snow may look pretty but it has us shivering in our boots

Cold comfort -- snow may look pretty but it has us shivering in our boots

A family walking through a forest in the mountains overlooking Belfast in County Antrim

A family walking through a forest in the mountains overlooking Belfast in County Antrim

A young family enjoying a winter wonderland in County Antrim

A young family enjoying a winter wonderland in County Antrim

JUSTIN KERNOGHAN

Heavy Snow on the Glenshane Pass on Tuesday 28th Oct 08. Photo by Conor McDonald, Maghera

Heavy Snow on the Glenshane Pass on Tuesday 28th Oct 08. Photo by Conor McDonald, Maghera

Teenagers make the most of the snow in  the Sentry hill area of Ballymena

Teenagers make the most of the snow in the Sentry hill area of Ballymena

Paul Faith

The snow covered coastal village of Glenarm in Co Antrim

The snow covered coastal village of Glenarm in Co Antrim

Paul Faith

Snow and freezing fog conditions outside Broughshane, County Antrim

Snow and freezing fog conditions outside Broughshane, County Antrim

JUSTIN KERNOGHAN

Demand for grit rockets as the cold snap continues

Demand for grit rockets as the cold snap continues

A forest in the mountains overlooking Belfast in County Antrim

A forest in the mountains overlooking Belfast in County Antrim

JUSTIN KERNOGHAN

Passengers wait for flights

Passengers wait for flights

Livestock battle with the snow and freezing fog in County Antrim

Livestock battle with the snow and freezing fog in County Antrim

JUSTIN KERNOGHAN

Delays and cancellations of flights due to the snow in parts of England has left passengers not knowing if they were able to return home for Christmas. Above: Harry and Eleanor Davies

Delays and cancellations of flights due to the snow in parts of England has left passengers not knowing if they were able to return home for Christmas. Above: Harry and Eleanor Davies

Delays and cancellations of flights due to the snow in parts of England has left passengers not knowing if they were able to return home for Christmas.  Above: Paul and Paula Miller

Delays and cancellations of flights due to the snow in parts of England has left passengers not knowing if they were able to return home for Christmas. Above: Paul and Paula Miller

Passengers at Belfast International Airport unsure if they are able to return home for Christmas

Passengers at Belfast International Airport unsure if they are able to return home for Christmas

Sian and Tabitha Mathusamy

Sian and Tabitha Mathusamy

People enjoy the snowy weather conditions in Glasgow on December 22, 2009 in Glasgow, Scotland

People enjoy the snowy weather conditions in Glasgow on December 22, 2009 in Glasgow, Scotland

Jeff J Mitchell

Darragh Crowley (12) from the Waterside in Derry plays in the snow in St.Columb's Park

Darragh Crowley (12) from the Waterside in Derry plays in the snow in St.Columb's Park

A child attempts to get his plough moving near Aldergrove, County Antrim

A child attempts to get his plough moving near Aldergrove, County Antrim

The snow caused chaos for some, but was a chance to have fun for others

The snow caused chaos for some, but was a chance to have fun for others

A couple walk through heavy snow in Cheethams Park, Stalybridge, Cheshire

A couple walk through heavy snow in Cheethams Park, Stalybridge, Cheshire

The cold snap has left motorists facing treacherous conditions across Northern Ireland

The cold snap has left motorists facing treacherous conditions across Northern Ireland

Shannon and Joshua Willoc play in the snow in St. Columb's Park, Derry

Shannon and Joshua Willoc play in the snow in St. Columb's Park, Derry

Darragh Crowley (12) from the Waterside in Derry plays in the snow in St.Columb's Park

Darragh Crowley (12) from the Waterside in Derry plays in the snow in St.Columb's Park

Mark McFetridge enjoys the snow outside his Coleraine home

Mark McFetridge enjoys the snow outside his Coleraine home

Lyndsey McBride walks her dog ' Heidi' at Stormont

Lyndsey McBride walks her dog ' Heidi' at Stormont

10 years-ol Pablo O'Connor bounding along in his sleigh on the snow at Brooke Park, Derry

10 years-ol Pablo O'Connor bounding along in his sleigh on the snow at Brooke Park, Derry

Lorcan Doherty

Nisha Stevenson and Sophia Thomasius sleighing in the snow at Brooke Park, Derry

Nisha Stevenson and Sophia Thomasius sleighing in the snow at Brooke Park, Derry

Lorcan Doherty

Nisha Stevenson and her mum Anne McAteer sleighing in the snow at Brooke Park, Derry

Nisha Stevenson and her mum Anne McAteer sleighing in the snow at Brooke Park, Derry

A train travels through the snow near Ingatestone, Essex after a night's heavy snowfall

A train travels through the snow near Ingatestone, Essex after a night's heavy snowfall

Ian Nicholson

A horse in a field next to the River Chelmer in Essex, after heavy snow

A horse in a field next to the River Chelmer in Essex, after heavy snow

Sean Dempsey

Snow starts to fall over St Paul's Cathedral in central London last night

Snow starts to fall over St Paul's Cathedral in central London last night

Laura Henderson, south Belfast

Laura Henderson, south Belfast

Snow on the Antrim Hills in Co Antrim

Snow on the Antrim Hills in Co Antrim

Paul Faith

Up to 10 centimetres of snow has fallen in some parts of Northern Ireland causing disruption to flights and forcing the closure of some schools February 2009

Up to 10 centimetres of snow has fallen in some parts of Northern Ireland causing disruption to flights and forcing the closure of some schools February 2009

Matt Mackey

Snow on the Antrim Hills February 2009

Snow on the Antrim Hills February 2009

Paul Faith

Snow brings Northern Ireland to a stand still.  Left to right. Ciaran McMullan(6), Fiona Lenghan and Matthew O'Rourke from Carryduff pictured outside their houses playing in the snow. February 2009

Snow brings Northern Ireland to a stand still. Left to right. Ciaran McMullan(6), Fiona Lenghan and Matthew O'Rourke from Carryduff pictured outside their houses playing in the snow. February 2009

Jonathan Porter

Snow makes it hard for drivers near Hannastown February 2009

Snow makes it hard for drivers near Hannastown February 2009

Test Pix

Heavy snow blankets Marden's Hill in East Sussex

Heavy snow blankets Marden's Hill in East Sussex

Britain is braced for more freezing temperatures and snow

Britain is braced for more freezing temperatures and snow

Clearing the snow, Belfast city centre, 6/2/1963
To purchase this photograph as large format canvas or acrylic visit Belfast Telegraph page on www.niphotocanvas.co.uk

Clearing the snow, Belfast city centre, 6/2/1963 To purchase this photograph as large format canvas or acrylic visit Belfast Telegraph page on www.niphotocanvas.co.uk

Walking in the snow, Massereene Park, Antrim, 8/12/1966
To purchase this photograph as large format canvas or acrylic visit Belfast Telegraph page on www.niphotocanvas.co.uk

Walking in the snow, Massereene Park, Antrim, 8/12/1966 To purchase this photograph as large format canvas or acrylic visit Belfast Telegraph page on www.niphotocanvas.co.uk

Workers clear snow from the Gotthard across in the Swiss Alps, Monday May 18, 2009, where the highest point is 2,108 meters above sea level. The pass will be reopened on May 27, 2009, after an estimated seven weeks of cleaning works and around 220,000 tons of removed snow, according to the removal team leader.  The pass connects the German-speaking part of Switzerland with the Italian-speaking region of the country.(AP Photo/Keystone,  Urs Flueeler)

Workers clear snow from the Gotthard across in the Swiss Alps, Monday May 18, 2009, where the highest point is 2,108 meters above sea level. The pass will be reopened on May 27, 2009, after an estimated seven weeks of cleaning works and around 220,000 tons of removed snow, according to the removal team leader. The pass connects the German-speaking part of Switzerland with the Italian-speaking region of the country.(AP Photo/Keystone, Urs Flueeler)

URS FLUEELER

Boris the Barbary lion at Belfast zoo. Submitted by Lisa Shilliday. 05/02/09

Boris the Barbary lion at Belfast zoo. Submitted by Lisa Shilliday. 05/02/09

Pupils from Methodist College Belfast battle their way through the snow on the way to class

Pupils from Methodist College Belfast battle their way through the snow on the way to class

Caption:  Press Eye Ltd - Northern Ireland - 5th February  2009 ..Pupils from Methodist College Mark Walker and Michael Rogers snow ball our photographer in University Road.....Mandatory Credit -Photo by Stephen Hamilton Presseye.com.

Caption: Press Eye Ltd - Northern Ireland - 5th February 2009 ..Pupils from Methodist College Mark Walker and Michael Rogers snow ball our photographer in University Road.....Mandatory Credit -Photo by Stephen Hamilton Presseye.com.

With no worries about outlook of further snow three-year old Kenneth Moore, Greenacres, Ballyutoag, Ligoniel, admires his giant snowman in the garden of his home.   21/1/1965

With no worries about outlook of further snow three-year old Kenneth Moore, Greenacres, Ballyutoag, Ligoniel, admires his giant snowman in the garden of his home. 21/1/1965

A U.T.A. bus which was abandoned in deep snow-drifts on the main Larne-Ballymena road at Shane's Hill.   30/11/1965

A U.T.A. bus which was abandoned in deep snow-drifts on the main Larne-Ballymena road at Shane's Hill. 30/11/1965

These cars found the Belfast-Aldergrove road very tricky as they manoeuvred slowly along on the hard packed snow.   16/2/1966

These cars found the Belfast-Aldergrove road very tricky as they manoeuvred slowly along on the hard packed snow. 16/2/1966

Snow plough trying to clear the drifts blocking the main Larne-Ballymena road at Shane's Hill.    30/11/1965

Snow plough trying to clear the drifts blocking the main Larne-Ballymena road at Shane's Hill. 30/11/1965

Allister Cosby (left) and Julian Parker, both aged nine, of Downview Park, West Belfast, were out early enjoying the snow.   3/12/1966

Allister Cosby (left) and Julian Parker, both aged nine, of Downview Park, West Belfast, were out early enjoying the snow. 3/12/1966

An army of workmen went out early clearing the snow in Belfast's city centre, before the first of the office workers arrived.   6/2/1963

An army of workmen went out early clearing the snow in Belfast's city centre, before the first of the office workers arrived. 6/2/1963

First sunset of the New Year. By Candy Morrison in Newmills

First sunset of the New Year. By Candy Morrison in Newmills

Earhart Park, Derry. Christmas Day 2009.  By Robbie Hegarty

Earhart Park, Derry. Christmas Day 2009. By Robbie Hegarty

'Fenced in', Dunmurry. By  Hazel

'Fenced in', Dunmurry. By Hazel

Whiterock Co Down. By Mikeymo

Whiterock Co Down. By Mikeymo

Ballynure, Co Antrim, 5th January 2010. By Stephen Millings

Ballynure, Co Antrim, 5th January 2010. By Stephen Millings

Shrek. By Stephen Millings

Shrek. By Stephen Millings

Lady Dixon Park, Christmas Eve. By William Dunne

Lady Dixon Park, Christmas Eve. By William Dunne

Lorcan and Marley. By William Dunne

Lorcan and Marley. By William Dunne

Early on New Year's Day, Templepatrick. By Linda, Templepatrick

Early on New Year's Day, Templepatrick. By Linda, Templepatrick

Lady Dixon Park, Belfast. By William Dunne

Lady Dixon Park, Belfast. By William Dunne

New Years Day sunset, Rough Island, Comber. submitted by Rebecca, Belfast

New Years Day sunset, Rough Island, Comber. submitted by Rebecca, Belfast

Frost on Clothes Pegs on Christmas Day 09, Rathfriland, Co. Down. By John Harkness - Belfast

Frost on Clothes Pegs on Christmas Day 09, Rathfriland, Co. Down. By John Harkness - Belfast

In the Bleak Mid-Winter. By Brian Morton / Straid

In the Bleak Mid-Winter. By Brian Morton / Straid

Dairyland Road - submitted by  Brian Morton, Straid

Dairyland Road - submitted by Brian Morton, Straid

Dundrum Beach, Co Down. Boxing Day 2009. By S McHugh

Dundrum Beach, Co Down. Boxing Day 2009. By S McHugh

New Year's Day dip at Ballyholme. By Mike Pringle, Groomsport

New Year's Day dip at Ballyholme. By Mike Pringle, Groomsport

Tobermore v Churchill United final off. By Rod Mulholland.

Tobermore v Churchill United final off. By Rod Mulholland.

New Years Day, Cushendunn. By Paul Davis from Coleraine

New Years Day, Cushendunn. By Paul Davis from Coleraine

Tom McIntyre, Hollow Farm Tandragee. By Sonia McIntyre

Tom McIntyre, Hollow Farm Tandragee. By Sonia McIntyre

Pepe. By Pauline, Ballynahinch

Pepe. By Pauline, Ballynahinch

Home. By Pauline, Ballynahinch

Home. By Pauline, Ballynahinch

Real Christmas trees,  Limavady mountain. By Paul Davis from Coleraine

Real Christmas trees, Limavady mountain. By Paul Davis from Coleraine

Marv in the back garden. By Alan Frame, Larne

Marv in the back garden. By Alan Frame, Larne

Misty Lane. By Rod Mulholland

Misty Lane. By Rod Mulholland

Moyola River, Tobermore. By Rod Mulholland

Moyola River, Tobermore. By Rod Mulholland

Tobermore village. By Rod Mulholland

Tobermore village. By Rod Mulholland

Sammy the Seal in Drumbeg. By Evaline Mitchell, Dunmurry

Sammy the Seal in Drumbeg. By Evaline Mitchell, Dunmurry

Seal takes an icy dip in the Lagan at Drumbeg, Co Down

Seal takes an icy dip in the Lagan at Drumbeg, Co Down

Snow patrol in Monkstown. By Harry Crowe, Monkstown, Newtownabbey

Snow patrol in Monkstown. By Harry Crowe, Monkstown, Newtownabbey

A great reason to go back to bed. By Stephen, Ballynure

A great reason to go back to bed. By Stephen, Ballynure

Nightlife in Straid. Al Richardson/Tara Morton

Nightlife in Straid. Al Richardson/Tara Morton

Cold comfort -- snow may look pretty but it has us shivering in our boots

The winter weather causing havoc across Northern Ireland is set to continue for at least 10 more days.



As it emerged that last month was the coldest December in nearly 30 years, weather watchers warned there is no sign of any let-up in the icy conditions that have caused havoc on roads and disrupted public services and businesses.

Snow ploughs were sent out overnight as the sub-zero conditions brought snow to the north, north west and higher ground. Temperatures are expected to plummet as low as -6C tonight.

Nine schools were forced to close their doors this morning after they were hit by heating problems and burst pipes.

Meanwhile, commuters battled perilous road conditions caused by snow and widespread black ice.



Temperatures dropped as low as -3C in Enniskillen overnight but could reach -6C tonight. Snow ploughs were brought in to play following heavier showers in the north and north-west and on higher ground.

Meanwhile, there were concerns that Northern Ireland’s salt mountain could be shrinking fast — although Roads Service said there was no danger of stocks running out — and calls for Roads Minister Conor Murphy to set up an emergency fund to treat rural roads where people face treacherous conditions.

Dundonald High School, Lisnagarvey High School, Blackwater Integrated in Downpatrick, Strangford College, Derryvoy PS in Crossgar, Killinchy PS, Donaghy PS, St Mary’s High School in Belleek and Grove PS nursery were all closed today.

Police cautioned against playing on frozen lakes after finding footprints and bicycle tracks on the Round Lake in Fivemiletown.

“There is no uniformity in the formation of ice and while it may seem sturdy and able to support weight, it can become very thin very quickly,” the PSNI said.

“If you see someone, or a pet, fall through the ice and get into difficulty never try and rescue them yourself — instead ring 999 immediately.”

Forecaster Aisling Creevy of Meteogroup warned temperatures could plummet to -6c tonight, with forecasts up to 10 days ahead showing no evidence of a thaw. There’s absolutely no sign in sight of it warming up at all — these northerly winds are staying. “Today there could be snow showers towards the end of the day with possibly the odd rumble of thunder,” she said.

People were reported to be taking salt bins for their own use, making it hard for Roads Service to offer local grit supplies.

The Department for Social Development said that 166,000 more low-income people will be receiving £25 Cold Weather Payments after temperatures dropped below zero for seven days in a row.









Transport: drivers face delays

Roads Service this morning reported delays along the M1, on the Shore Road in Belfast, the Westlink and the A1 approaching Hillsborough.

Commuters also reported problems on the Ballymena bypass, the Old Belfast Road between Magheralin and Moira and accidents in the Newtownards area.

More heavy snow and ice, which caused treacherous driving conditions across the North West this monring, is forecast. Motorists were warned to take care on the Glenshane Pass.

Metro and Ulsterbus services in Armagh, Newtownards, Rathfriland, Colerine and Omagh were disrupted.



Have you been grounded by the weather? If you have a story to tell please email newseditor@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Airports: City of Derry Airport this morning faced a second day of delays.

The 8.10am flight to Dublin, the 8.50am to London Luton and 10.10am to Glasgow were all delayed by at least two hours.

Meanwhile, the arrival of the 7.50am flight from Dublin was expected to be delayed by several hours, while this morning’s flight from Luton had to be redirected to Belfast, with passengers being taken to Londonderry by bus.

To keep Belfast City Airport open, staff have used three snow ploughs, while Belfast International Airport has managed to remain open with only a two-hour closure on December 20.

Schools

Sub-zero weather has led to a number of schools across Northern Ireland facing disruption or closure.

Nine schools were forced to close this morning after they were hit by heating problems, burst pipes and surrounding icy roads.

Among those affected by the freezing temperatures were Dundonald High School and St Mary’s High in Belleek, which were closed.

Around seven schools in the Southern Education and Library Board suffered burst pipe damage but their counterparts in the North Eastern Board escaped unscathed.

In the Western Board, some 47 schools were affected by frozen pipes.

Roads

The DRD salts 4,300 miles of road in Northern Ireland which carry 80% of all traffic in the province.

However, salted roads represent just 27% of the road network.

More than 55,000 tonnes of salt are spread by Roads Service annually.

A spokesman for the DRD said they have adequate stocks of salt and there is no danger of it running out.

However, concerns have been raised by local representatives about the supply of salt and the lack of salting on small rural roads.

Efforts are made to ensure that small settlements of more than 100 dwellings have a treated link to the salted network.



Ambulances: crews are coping

The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) said crews are coping with hazardous driving conditions — especially in rural areas.

John McPoland from the NIAS said: “When conditions are as bad as those we have been experiencing recently, the impact on the service is a slight delay in response to emergency calls. However the ambulances, thanks to the dedication, professionalism and driving skills of our staff, are still getting through to those patients who are in need of assistance.

“There has, however, been a small number of incidents over the cold spell when vehicles have slid off the road but thankfully without injury to staff who were the only people involved.”





Bins: collections proving trickyBIN collections are proving tricky for many councils.

In Belfast only services in three roads were affected yesterday— Wolfhill Road, Wolfhill Link and part of Knockbreda Road, a council spokesperson said.

But a four-man crew had to be brought to hospital to be examined after the lorry they were travelling in slid 50 yards in the Ballysillan Road area. None of the men were seriously injured.

Derry City Council, meanwhile, introduced a contingency plan which has been in place since December 23.

A spokesman said: “If we can’t drive into streets we are asking our staff to go down and pull the bins up so we can get them collected.”



Farmers: a setback with supplies



The Ulster Farmers Union (UFU) is in talks with DRD Roads Service after some members suffered setbacks in getting fresh milk supplies collected and animal feed delivered to yards.

UFU president Graham Furey said: “We understand the current situation is that while the priority is being given to roads carrying more than 1,500 vehicles a day, Roads Service are trying to grit secondary roads where possible. We have agreed that if a farmer is experiencing difficulties with milk collections or feed deliveries they should contact their local Roads Service depot directly and the specific issue will be investigated.”

Hospitals: rise in patient intake

Health Trusts across Northern Ireland said they had experienced a rise in patients being treated for breaks and slips caused by the ice and snow.

Out of the three hospitals in the South Eastern Trust area, Lagan Valley Hospital experienced a slight increase in patients attending the emergency department due to falls/accidents.

The Western Health and Social Care Trust said that from December 22 to December 28, 2009, 60% of people attending Altnagelvin Hospital's Accident and Emergency department have trauma injuries sustained as the result of slips and trips on ice and snow.

Plumbers: plagued by burst pipes

Plumbers have had little opportunity to relax as they were inundated with pleas for help from customers affected by burst pipes.

Belfast plumber David McWilliams has dealt with some 85 callouts since Christmas Day. “We’re working 20 hours a day at the moment — we’re getting one job done and we’re back on another. There’s not enough plumbers about at the minute to get the work done,” he said. “We have a couple of jobs tomorrow and they are flying a specialist insurance assessor in from England. A lot of the old houses still have the old lagging on the pipes when people should have replaced them with the 22mm.”





Oil prices: On the up once more

As the temperatures plummet the cost of home heating oil in Northern Ireland is again steadily rising.

Prices have increased by 24% between January 2009 and January 2010.

According to the Consumer Council For Northern Ireland, the average price of 900 litres of oil has jumped by £30 in the last month.

At the start of December the average price of 500 litres was £208 and 900 litres was £358.78.

According to the most recent figures, 500 litres now costs £222.87 while the average price of 900 litres is £383.73.

There has been no noticeable increase in the price of gas.





Funerals - update



Despite fears that the severe cold weather would have an impact on funerals, burial or cemetery services at Roselawn Cemetery in Belfast have not been disrupted so far by the cold spell.

A council spokeswoman said burial services are running as normal.

However, funeral directors have struggled as winter mortalities combined with treacherous conditions. WH Garvin in Castledawson say it has suffered some difficulties due to icy roads, but were duly assisted by the efforts of Magherafelt District Council, who salted routes that were due to be used for funeral processions.

Belfast Telegraph