Northern Ireland weather: Coldest temperatures have passed, but more snow on the way
A sudden warming in the skies above the North Pole two weeks ago is to blame for the worst weather to batter Northern Ireland in five years, the Met Office said last night.
And the big freeze is set to continue today as residents across the province rise following another sub zero night, with temperatures expected to plummet as low as -4 degrees in the countryside.
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Winter wardrobes will continue to be a wise option today with temperatures not expected to rise above 1C.
Conditions are expected to be worst in the eastern section of Northern Ireland, with the amber warning for snow set to remain in place across counties Antrim, Armagh and Down until 10am today.
The coldest temperature recorded this week was -6.3C overnight between Wednesday and Thursday at Derrylin, Co Fermanagh, while the highest temperature recorded in Northern Ireland yesterday was just 0.8C in Killowen, Co Down.
It has been the most severe weather since March 2013, and, before that, December 2010.
While the coldest of the weather is believed to be behind us now, a Met Office forecaster has warned there could be more snow to come as Storm Emma passes by.
The forecaster said the storm, which has travelled north from Portugal, and is expected to make its biggest impact today across the south west of England and the southernmost area of the Republic of Ireland, will deliver more snow and strong winds.
"It all started with a sudden stratospheric warming a couple of weeks ago," the forecaster told the Belfast Telegraph last night.
"This is when the temperature in the stratosphere above the North Pole rises rapidly and causes a reversal of the normal westerly winds high in the atmosphere.
"This reversal takes a couple of weeks to filter down to the level of our jet stream which weakens and we see our mild westerly winds changing to cold easterlies.
"This is the Beast from the East where high pressure over Scandinavia generates an easterly flow that is bringing increasingly cold air into the British Isles, sourced from northern Scandinavia and the Barents Sea region."
Storm Emma's strong winds combined with the Beast From The East to dump heavy snow over southern areas of the UK and Republic of Ireland.
"The Beast from the East has been affecting us for a few days now," the Met Office forecaster explained. "Storm Emma developed to the south west of the UK over the Azores and was named by the Portuguese met service because of the very strong winds it would bring to them.
"This has pushed frontal systems northwards towards the British Isles which are now hitting the cold air from the Beast and we are seeing heavy snowfall."
When asked why the snow appeared to be so patchy, with some neighbouring towns experiencing very different conditions, the forecaster said: "The snow we have had so far has come in the form of showers which are, by their nature, localised, hence you see one place with a lot of snow and another close by with very little."
One local man, who was no doubt hoping for a milder night, was John Finlay from Portadown who bravely slept in an igloo built by his family and neighbours to raise money for Robert Cuthbert, the African director for Ambassadors Football, from his church, First Portadown Presbyterian.
Last night they had already surpassed their £500 target within just a few hours.
Meanwhile, the snow is set to continue with more snow showers this morning, mainly in the south, but easing through the day, and strong to gale force easterly winds which will bring drifting of lying snow, and a maximum temperature of two degrees.
The outlook for Saturday to Monday is for easterly winds to continue to bring a few sleet or snow showers.
However, on Sunday a band of rain and snow will spread from the south for a time.