Belfast Telegraph

Avalanches spotted in Mourne Mountains

By John Mulgrew

Several avalanches have been spotted in the Mourne Mountains as freezing temperatures and snow continue to cause disruption across Northern Ireland.

According to mountain tour guide Andy Porter one snow drift measured over 100 metres which was "extremely rare".

It was spotted on Sunday morning on the west face of Slieve Bearnagh and according to the tour guide was "certainly big enough to kill".

"I'm out every day on the hills on Sunday and it is very rare for us to see one," said Andy.

"I've been guiding people in the mountains for 15 years but I've never seen anything like this.

He also urged people to be extremely vigilant and well prepared when venturing out into the area.

"There is a danger of getting caught out in one. There has been heavy snow and strong winds and we had more snowfall overnight in the area. People have to be careful."

Meanwhile police have warned hill walkers of snow hazards which are "not normally seen in Northern Ireland such as cornices and avalanche risks in those areas affected by snow and strong winds".

Meteogroup's Laura Caldwell said temperatures are set to remain low over the next few days.

"It will be pretty similar conditions to those we have been having, staying cold and with quite a bit of cloud around with a few light snow showers," she said.

On Tuesday an RAF Chinook helicopter was drafted in to help drop food for thousands of animals stranded across Northern Ireland.

The relief mission brought much-needed aid to farmers who are struggling in the worst conditions in living memory.

Thousands of animals are feared to have perished in the freezing temperatures.

Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill revealed she had also sought help from the Irish Air Corps and would press for a hardship payment for farmers.

The pledge came as some farms were left cut off by the Arctic weather, which has brought large parts of Northern Ireland to a standstill.

Food parcels and medication have also been delivered to people left snowbound since last Friday.

Blankets of snow have enveloped parts of counties Antrim and Down, with drifts of up to 20 feet reported in some areas.

It has prompted an unprecedented response operation involving the emergency services, aid workers and now the military.

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