Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland heatwave: Temperatures nudge close to record

By Stewart Robson

Rail delays and school closures are not uncommon in winter, but in June, in Northern Ireland, they are practically unheard of.

Temperatures more familiar with parts of Europe are perhaps even more rare but yesterday we enjoyed the hottest day of the year, falling just shy of the all-time record as Derrylin in Fermanagh hit 30.4C.

On a day when temperatures exceeded 30C in western areas, passengers faced delays across the rail network as trains were slowed to ease them over the piping hot tracks.

Translink said that tracks in some place reached 50C which led to a fear of the tracks buckling. On average, travellers were delayed by ten to 15 minutes due to safety precautions which were introduced at 2pm.

A Translink spokesperson said that reducing the speed of trains was a 'precautionary measure' to mitigate any risk of rail tracks expanding.

As the heat intensified, Translink made the decision to cancel two early evening services departing from Belfast Central to Coleraine.

In a tweet which was shared by BBCNI weather presenter Barra Best, Lisglass Road in Carrickfergus was shown to be 'melting' with the surface of the road glistening in the heat.

Largymore Primary School in Lisburn sent pupils home early for safety reasons on Wednesday as classrooms reached 30C.

But the heat increased across every part of Northern Ireland, with Thomastown near Enniskillen reaching a scorching 30.1C at 3pm. This was 0.7C short of the 1976 all-time record, which was also set in Fermanagh.

As people suffered minor delays, others took the opportunity to eat and drink outdoors, especially in the hottest town in the country.

Kerri McCanny, the bar manager at Pat's Bar in Enniskillen, said the beer garden was packed for most of yesterday.

"It's been extremely busy," she said. "Our beer garden's been full. It's definitely the hottest I've ever felt it at home."

Kerri has just returned from a wedding in the south of France and said the weather there didn't rival Northern Ireland, adding that when the weather is good, 'there's really nowhere like Fermanagh'.

"It's really great to see a lot of tourists around as well," she added.

For those workers not lucky enough to escape the office, warnings have been issued to employers, highlighting that "certain steps may need to be taken" to ensure safe working conditions for staff.

Employment law and human resources specialist Martina McAuley, from Londonderry, said that by following simple steps, employees can be kept comfortable.

"While the law in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland or the UK does not stipulate a temperature at which it is deemed too hot to work, it does state that the temperature in all workplaces should be reasonable," she said.

"Of course, employers do need to consider the impact of workplace temperatures, as they have a general duty to ensure the safety, health and welfare of all employees."

Meanwhile, in Co Londonderry, firefighters worked in sweltering conditions as they continued to battle a huge gorse blaze at the Glenshane Pass.

The fire, in a remote area of the Sperrins near Dungiven, was reported at 5am on Wednesday morning. It grew to one mile long, with three seats of fire.

Belfast Telegraph

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