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NI basks in new heat record … but fears for water supplies in some areas

Mercury hits 31.30C in Co Tyrone town, four days after previous high was set in Newtownards townland

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Fun in the sun: Alice Jamison (4) builds sandcastles with her sister Amelia (2) at Seapark on Wednesday

Fun in the sun: Alice Jamison (4) builds sandcastles with her sister Amelia (2) at Seapark on Wednesday

A packed beach at Portstewart

A packed beach at Portstewart

Hanna Dougherty and Amy Evens on Ballyholme Beach in Bangor

Hanna Dougherty and Amy Evens on Ballyholme Beach in Bangor

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Fun in the sun: Alice Jamison (4) builds sandcastles with her sister Amelia (2) at Seapark on Wednesday

Northern Ireland has broken yet another temperature record, for the second time in five days.

Shortly after 2.30pm on Wednesday afternoon, the mercury hit a record high of 31.3°C in Castlederg in County Tyrone.

This was the highest temperature recorded across the UK on Wednesday and surpassed the previous highest temperature ever recorded in Northern Ireland of 31.2°C in Ballywatticock, a townland just outside Newtownards, which was set last Saturday.

The previous highest temperature recorded was 30.8°C in the summers of 1976 and 1983.

Castlederg also holds the record for the lowest temperature ever in Northern Ireland when the Co Tyrone village reached chilling lows of -18.7°C during “the big freeze” of 2010.

Two other hotspots in Northern Ireland reached sweltering temperatures of 30°C or hotter on Wednesday, with Aldergrove hitting the 30 mark exactly and Armagh baking at 30.6°C.

Like all temperature records, these numbers are provisional and subject to quality checks by Met Office representatives who monitor each of the official weather stations.

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The current heatwave is set to continue on Thursday with highs of 30°C and above expected throughout the day.

The Met Office appealed for the public to be aware of a risk of heat exhaustion and sunburn along with other heat-related illnesses.

An amber weather warning for extreme heat is to remain until midnight on Friday with predominantly dry weather to continue into the weekend before cooler air moves in next week.

Meanwhile, NI Water has threatened to introduce a hosepipe ban if water usage is not reduced immediately as demand is continuing to outstrip supply.

Areas most at risk are those serviced by the Castor Bay water system, which feeds into Banbridge, Newry, Dungannon and also parts of Newcastle and Kilkeel.

Many reservoirs in the area are beginning to dry up and an old road at Spelga Dam dating back to the 1800s, which was previously exposed during a heatwave in 2018, has appeared once again due to the low water levels.

NI Water revealed that the storage of water at Silent Valley and Ben Crom reservoirs is currently sitting at 64% and Spelga Dam and Fofanny Dam is at 70%.

“This is not unreasonable for this time of year and we have had a relatively dry period coupled with extremely high temperatures,” a spokesman said.

Des Nevin, Director of Customer Operations at NI Water, said: “If demand continues at this level it will lead to failures in our network and some customers will lose supply or suffer low pressure.

“A number of customers over the past few days are already experiencing this, especially those on high ground.

“On Monday,, we put 723 million litres of water into our distribution system, this is over 145 million litres more than normal, equivalent to 1.8million baths!

“We are asking our customers to help us, especially over the next few days when temperatures continue to be high. We know from the increase in our night usage some customers are leaving sprinklers and hoses on overnight. Please stop.

“A hose uses more water in one hour than the average family uses in a whole day.

“A pressure washer can also be a massive drain, so please think about whether the task is really essential at the moment.”

Road surfaces and railway tracks are also at risk of deteriorating in the heat.

Translink has warned that, with soaring temperatures only set to increase in the coming days, the public are asked to allow extra journey time travelling by bus or train, especially to coastal areas.

Rail services may also be subject to speed restrictions due to high track temperatures.

Richard Knox, General Manager for NI Railways, said: “We know more people want to get out and enjoy the weather. However, we are appealing to the public to allow more time for their journey. Where possible, passengers should consider if their journey is completely necessary over the coming days.

“In addition, passengers are reminded it is mandatory to wear a face covering in respect of others unless exempt themselves.”

Last weekend, the PSNI reportedly received numerous reports in relation to traffic congestion and irresponsible parking in locations such as Tyrella Beach and Bloody Bridge in County Down.

Officers responded and tickets were issued for traffic offences.


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