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NI weather: Another record on the cards as temperatures keep on rising

Ice cream parlour working ‘flat out’ every day until midnight to keep up with huge demand

Ballywatticock’s moment in the sun might only last a few days with a possibility that Northern Ireland’s record temperature could be broken again later this week.

Weather experts are predicting temperatures in the low 30s for Wednesday and Thursday as the heatwave continues into the weekend.

The townland near Newtownards recorded a top temperature of 31.2C on Saturday - if verified, it will be the hottest ever recorded in Northern Ireland.

The Met Office is still treating the record with an air of caution given that the area was nearly three degrees higher than the weather stations surrounding it.

It is understood they will be sending an expert to Northern Ireland later this week to investigate the Co Down weather station after it provided the highest temperature reading in all of the UK on Saturday.

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But with the high pressure bringing soaring temperatures from the Azores set to remain in place for the next few days, the hot sunny spell is showing no signs of going anywhere until the beginning of next week at the earliest.

In the BBC NI weather centre, forecaster Barra Best said he will be keeping a close eye on the thermometers over the next few days.

“Wednesday and Thursday are the days to look out for if we’re talking about records,” he said.

“We’re expecting it to be around the 30 degree mark and that means in isolated areas there’s a chance the record could be broken again.”

Yesterday an extreme heat weather warning for parts of the UK was issued for the first time by the Met Office.

The amber warning covers large parts of Wales, all of south-west England and parts of southern and central England, and will be in place until Thursday evening.

Barra added: “We’re hearing that the Met Office is issuing a weather warning for hot temperatures in Great Britain, and that Met Eireann are considering something similar for Ireland.

“We’re trapped in high pressure and there’s no wind to move it on. But that does have its drawbacks. Temperatures at nighttime are not falling below 15 or 16 degrees and the next day is starting warm. During the day that temperature is building up again and it’s making for uncomfortable nights, with little breeze to cool things down.

“Anyone with breathing difficulties can find it tough. And if you’re like me with typical Irish skin, it’s factor 50 weather, and stick a hat on or stay under a parasol. Some of us need to be a little more careful than others.”

Matching the soaring temperatures is the soaring sales of ice-cream, with parlours reporting record sales and staff working around the clock to meet demand.

Ross Harkin at The Rinkha in Islandmagee, Co Antrim, is one of those putting in the long hours to make sure the freezers remain stocked and yesterday afternoon he had just finished off a new batch of cherry and chocolate ice cream and was making a start on the new favourite, strawberry cheesecake.

“We’ve been flat out. I can’t remember ever seeing anything like the number of people at the beaches in Brown’s Bay and Portmuck,” he said.

“The roads to Portmuck had to be closed at the weekend due to the number of people trying to get there for the day.

“Given the year and a half we’ve had, it’s wonderful to see.

“The ice-cream business always picks up when the sun shines, and this past week is exactly what we’ve needed.

“I’m in here to after midnight most nights making everything fresh. We haven’t run out yet and I’m determined we won’t.

“I know it’s going to be a long week, with the sunshine set to last into next weekend, but from a business point of view, and an enjoyment point of view, I can’t remember ever seeing anything like it.”

The business is now in its fourth generation and this year marks the 100th anniversary of its opening. And with temperatures matching those in popular hotspots like Faro and Cannes, Ross said the release from lockdown coupled with the good weather has seen a real surge in customers.

“There are a lot of people who won’t have been able to get abroad this year because of the travel restrictions and many who don’t want to take a chance. The past week has been perfect for them and for us.

“We’ll stick at it for the rest of the week. We’ll be trying different flavours to give a bit of variety. Our traditional family recipe vanilla is still the favourite, but there’s been a few more exotic flavours, like peaches and cream, mixed in there. There’s been a real spin-off on beach toys for us as well. I’m sure it’s the same at other seaside towns.”

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