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Mallon warns of potential travel disruption as extreme heat warning issued

The minister also urged people to use water sensibly as temperatures soar.

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Millie Buchan, Alex Henderson, Rebecca Pollock and Emma Webster in the grounds of Belfast City Hall in Northern Ireland (Liam McBurney/PA)

Millie Buchan, Alex Henderson, Rebecca Pollock and Emma Webster in the grounds of Belfast City Hall in Northern Ireland (Liam McBurney/PA)

Millie Buchan, Alex Henderson, Rebecca Pollock and Emma Webster in the grounds of Belfast City Hall in Northern Ireland (Liam McBurney/PA)

Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon has urged people to reduce their water usage, as the Met Office issued an amber weather warning over extreme heat in Northern Ireland.

Ms Mallon also warned of potential travel disruption as high temperatures continue to affect the region.

The Met Office warning, which covers all six counties in Northern Ireland, covers the period from 8am on Wednesday until 11.59pm on Friday .

Northern Ireland recorded a provisional record high temperature on Saturday, when the mercury hit 31.2C in Ballywatticock, near Newtownards in Co Down at 3.40pm.

Previously, the highest temperature of 30.8C was recorded on July 12 1983 and June 30 1976.

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People enjoying the sun at Helen’s Bay beach in County Down (Liam McBurney/PA)

People enjoying the sun at Helen’s Bay beach in County Down (Liam McBurney/PA)

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People enjoying the sun at Helen’s Bay beach in County Down (Liam McBurney/PA)

But it is possible the new record may be exceeded this week with the Met Office predicting the temperature will rise above 30C on Wednesday and Thursday.

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The Met Office said: “The current hot weather is expected to continue until later this week, with daytime temperatures peaking on Wednesday and Thursday.

“High overnight temperatures are also expected before temperatures fall on Friday.”

The Met Office warning comes with an appeal to watch out for heat exhaustion and sunburn.

Ms Mallon said: “These extremely high temperatures mean that demand for water has significantly increased with demand outstripping supply.

“NI Water is working hard to mitigate any impacts from this but we all have a role to play.

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A dry creek the feeds into Spelga Reservoir in the Mourne Mountains of County Down (Liam McBurney/PA)

A dry creek the feeds into Spelga Reservoir in the Mourne Mountains of County Down (Liam McBurney/PA)

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A dry creek the feeds into Spelga Reservoir in the Mourne Mountains of County Down (Liam McBurney/PA)

“I am appealing to everyone to please reduce unnecessary use to protect supplies. If everyone simply uses the water they actually need, there will be plenty for everyone.”

She added:  “In light of the current high temperatures, along with the ongoing pandemic, I would remind the public to avoid visiting places where there is a chance that large numbers of people will gather and crowds will form.

“This is particularly important as we know that delays are likely and this may result in people being in cars or on public transport for an extended period of time which can be very uncomfortable in very hot weather.

“We know that the very high temperatures can have an impact on the rail network with track speeds reduced causing delays to services.

“In recent days we have seen large numbers of people flocking to beauty spots across Northern Ireland. While I understand that people want to enjoy the good weather, health and safety must be of paramount importance.

“I would strongly urge the public to consider if their journey is necessary over the coming days.  If you are using public transport, including the Strangford and Rathlin ferries, please remember that the rules requiring face coverings remain in place for everyone’s protection.

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People queue for ice creams at Helen’s Bay beach in County Down (Liam McBurney/PA)

People queue for ice creams at Helen’s Bay beach in County Down (Liam McBurney/PA)

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People queue for ice creams at Helen’s Bay beach in County Down (Liam McBurney/PA)

“The high temperatures can also have an impact on the road network.  Recent weather has led to a rise in road surface temperatures and with limited cooling at night, the bitumen in some roads has softened.

“The Department has been spreading fine dust/grit on the worst affected roads and will continue to do so as necessary.”

The nidirect government services website issued updated advice for people on staying safe in the sun.

It said: “Extreme heat can have health consequences, as well as increased traffic near coastal areas, increased use of water and an increase in wildfire risk.”

The website said extreme heat could also cause ongoing pressures on water resources and an increased chance that some heat-sensitive systems and equipment may fail, leading to power cuts and the loss of other services.

The website also warned that more people are likely to visit coastal areas, lakes and rivers in coming days, leading to an increased risk of water safety incidents.

First Minister Paul Givan and deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill encouraged everyone to stay safe and look out for others during the current spell of very hot weather.

Mr Givan said: “After a difficult time for the whole community, it is understandable that people want to be out and about across Northern Ireland during this period of hot, dry weather. We want everyone to enjoy the sunshine, but it is very important that everyone does it safely.

“Extreme heat can have serious consequences for people’s health, public services and the environment. So we ask everyone to take steps to protect themselves.

“Don’t take risks that could potentially be dangerous for you, your family or the wider community.”

Ms O’Neill said: “We have been experiencing an unprecedented heatwave and temperatures here are set to escalate even further in the coming days. It is vitally important that we all follow the advice that will help to keep everyone safe.

“Of course many people are keen to experience the good weather, but we ask everyone to take care of themselves, and others so that no-one comes to any harm as a result of the extreme heat.

“Please check in on anyone who might be more vulnerable, including older family, friends and neighbours.”


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