Belfast Telegraph

New Northern Ireland weather warning issued after snow and ice wreak havoc

Snow and ice caused widespread disruption across Northern Ireland on Friday morning and the Met Office is warning of more with a new ice warning.

A yellow alert will be in place from 5pm on Friday and last until 11am on Saturday.

Forecasters are predicting temperatures to plummet on Friday evening leaving untreated surfaces particularly treacherous.

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The chief forecaster said: "Clear skies will allow temperatures to fall widely below freezing on Friday evening.

"Particularly at risk of icy patches are roads, pavements and cycleways which are either still snow covered, where surfaces are wet from partially melted snow or standing water and areas where wintry showers occur after dark."

Bus and train operator, Translink said it has put in place a range of measures to cope with sub-zero conditions.

Ciaran Doherty, said: "The last two days have seen the first significant ice and snow of the winter.

“In anticipation of the freezing conditions which have been forecast for the coming weeks, we are already taking the following steps to mitigate their effects and leek our customers moving.

“Our programme of points heaters installation, introduced in 2010 at key strategic points on the rail network, ensures that they are kept free from frost to keep trains moving.

"This programme was completed in 2015 with most points throughout the network now fitted with heaters. We have also introduced barrier heating systems to ensure that barriers on motorist and pedestrian level crossings don’t freeze.

“We have a training programme in place for all of our bus drivers on driving in winter conditions which is delivered as part of their annual CPC (Certificate of Professional Competency) review. 

"Each year Translink also produces a Winter Driving Bulletin, which is distributed to all bus drivers providing tips and reminders on safe driving in winter conditions including frost and snow, flooding and fog.

"Our fleet winterisation programme begins in early October, or earlier, depending on weather conditions, ensures that our buses and coaches can operate in cold conditions.

"The programme includes adjusting thermostat settings on engines, ensuring that antifreeze and screen wash fluids are replenished and up to winter strength and checking saloon heating systems. 

"Meanwhile, Service Delivery Managers and bus station personnel ensure that there is sufficient grit and salt in stock for use at bus stations and yards.

During extreme weather conditions Ulsterbus and Metro Inspectors, in conjunction with local bus driver risk assessment groups, carry out route risk assessments to determine the safety and suitability of routes for buses to operate on and divert services if required.

Translink has also taken steps to train around 100 staff in additional competencies such as clearing snow from points and managing points failures they are ‘on standby’ to keep rail, platforms and walkways clear.

Ciaran added: "We know how important it is to keep customers up to date on what is happening to their services so we have also improved our contact centre’s call queuing system, using a ‘cloud-based’ telephone system and server, providing greater resilience and allowing business to continue as normal.

"Our social media channels like Twitter and our TranslinkNI app are also a great ways for our customer to keep up to date with the latest travel news."

"We would call for members of the public to take extra care when using any of our bus and rail facilities in the colder conditions.

"We will do all we can to ensure trains and buses run as normally as possible and will keep passengers informed through social media, station announcements, our website and traffic and travel news.” Ciaran concluded.

Friday morning saw roads closed, bus services disrupted and schools shut after a flurry of snow overnight.

"People out there travelling to work or on the school run should be very aware of the conditions and take care," Transport NI's Cathal Brown told the BBC.

"We've been in action since yesterday afternoon and evening, through the night and into this morning dealing with the trouble spots."

For the latest road closures go to the traffic news website.

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