Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland weather: Snow causes chaos on roads ... and now there's 75mph gales to follow

By Donna Deeney and Linda Stewart

Northern Ireland is braced for a double whammy of treacherous wintry conditions as the Met Office issued a series of weather warnings following heavy snowfalls in the North West.

The snow will be followed by a deep Atlantic cyclone, bringing gales of up to 75mph.

The region was transformed into a magical land of winter beauty yesterday, which weather forecasters say is set to continue.

Children rushed home from school to build snowmen and go sledding while parents struggled with car journeys as continuous and persistent snow during the day made driving difficult.

Conditions in rural areas such as Claudy, Eglinton and the Glenshane Pass were tough, but some of the most hazardous roads to navigate were in Derry City centre and the Waterside.

Motorists fumed as 10 minute journeys took almost an hour.

Geraldine McCormick lives in the Waterside area of Londonderry but works across the Craigavon Bridge in the cityside. It normally takes 15 minutes each morning but yesterday took over an hour and left her late for work.

She said: "I didn't realise the roads were as bad as they were and I came down Fountain Hill as I normally do, but it was terrifying because the car in front of me started sliding all over the place and I didn't know what to do.

"Thank God I managed to stay in control, but it was a crawl right down Spencer Road and across the bridge and instead of reaching work before 9am as I usually do it was after 10am, but I still wasn't the last one in. "I reckon I will try and walk home, it would probably be quicker and safer."

Monica Fee endured an equally traumatic trip home but was forced to abandon her car.

She said: "The Crescent Link road in the Waterside was like a skating rink the whole way to beyond Altnagelvin.

"Cars were sliding every which way and even though driving in the snow doesn't bother me normally, I was terrified.

"I had no choice but to abandon my car, get out the wellies I keep in the boot and start walking."

By lunchtime several further heavy falls of snow saw a bad situation get worse for motorists.

Not everyone was concerned though, as many grabbed cameras and made the most of the opportunity to capture the cityscape in its winter beauty and snowmen popped up in gardens everywhere.

There was some disruption to Derry City Council services and while refuse collection continued as normal where safe to do so, the city cemetery was closed in the afternoon.

Bus services were suspended between Belfast and Derry and passengers were advised to take the train.

Gritters were in operation as Transport NI warned of disruption to city services and rural areas. Some schools closed, including Cumber Claudy Primary School and Evish Primary School in Strabane.

Rathlin island has been cut off from the mainland for four days and while supplies like bread and milk made it through on a ferry yesterday, the service looks set to be suspended again once the next storms hit. Islanders took it in their stride and said it was all part of life off the north coast.

The Met Office warned of a risk of disruption to transport and possibly power supplies through tonight into tomorrow.

A spokesman said: "Another Atlantic low pressure system is expected to deepen significantly as it tracks towards the UK.

"The strongest winds will initially be across England and Wales during the second half of Wednesday into early Thursday before moderating.

"A separate area of very strong winds is likely to affect more northern areas of the UK through Thursday, particularly affecting Northern Ireland and the central belt of Scotland. As well as the very strong winds, a band of squally rain is likely to sweep eastwards across many parts through the period.

"The exact track of this system is still open to some uncertainty, as is the location of the strongest winds, particularly across the north on Thursday and this warning will be updated as and when necessary."

The Weather Channel UK also warned of further wintry weather towards the weekend and into next week, with snow over hills and night frosts.

Forecaster Leon Brown said: "It looks like below normal temperatures will be with us for the rest of January from the end of this week, so keep warm coats to hand and ice scrapers for the car windscreen."

Teen's hilarious assessment of the recent weather

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