Belfast Telegraph

Weather havoc: Triple-threat storm brings snow, rain and gales to UK and Ireland

By Linda Stewart

Storms are again battering Northern Ireland as the run of terrible weather continues.

There is no end in sight to the atrocious conditions with more heavy rain and snow forecast for the rest of the weekend.

It was a tale of two sides yesterday, with heavy rain battering the eastern half of Northern Ireland while snowfalls hit the west.

Ulster's rugby match at Ravenhill was postponed last night after heavy rain in parts of Belfast.

Traffic ground to a standstill on the Glenshane Pass yesterday afternoon as vehicles became bogged down in heavy snow.

A collision involving a lorry added to the mayhem, blocking one lane and causing major queues.

Motorists were warned to avoid the A55 at Belvoir in Belfast after heavy flooding halted the traffic, causing huge tailbacks towards Forestside along the outer ring.

The PSNI warned drivers not to travel on the Windyhill Road between Coleraine and Limavady due to heavy snow.

Police in Ards advised motorists to slow down and drive with dipped headlights, saying crews were dealing with three collisions in the district yesterday afternoon as the latest in a series of Atlantic storms hit Northern Ireland.

Several roads in Co Antrim were closed because of flooding.

Motorists were warned to take care if driving on the Warrenpoint to Rostrevor coastal road which has been swamped by huge waves on a number of occasions in recent weeks. Part of the road collapsed earlier this week.

Rugby fans were left out in the cold after the RaboDirect PRO12 match against Scarlets had to be put on hold when referee Leighton Hodges declared the pitch at Ravenhill unplayable.

The game is now likely to be rescheduled for next month.

Tickets bought for last night's game would be valid for the rescheduled match. Meanwhile, Belfast City Council said all its pitches would be closed today.

Forecasters are now warning of a huge storm developing out in the Atlantic to the west of the Azores bringing more rain and snow. More rain falling on saturated ground means an increased risk of flooding.

However, we are not getting the worst of it.

John Griffiths of forecasters MeteoGroup said many storms were moving straight through the middle of the UK, with Northern Ireland being first landfall for many of the weather systems.

This pattern may be helping Northern Ireland to avoid the worst of the weather as the eyes of the storms spins across the region, leaving the Republic of Ireland and southern England to deal with stronger winds.

"When you get that eye of the storm, the wind tends to ease off a bit. One of the worst areas to be hit is southern England which is a little bit further away," Mr Griffiths said.

"The low is going to wander across Northern Ireland, so the further south you go the wind is going to be a bit faster than that low."

January was one of the wettest on record in Northern Ireland and February could well follow suit, with 134% of the rain normally expected to fall in Northern Ireland already recorded.

Northern Ireland seems to have escaped the serious damage seen elsewhere partly due to the position of the low and partly because heavy rainfall is a regular feature.

"Normally there would still be high rainfall amounts at this time of year. This is above the average but it's not severely above the average, unlike the south west of England which doesn't normally get as much rainfall," Mr Griffiths said. "You are a bit more used to it and you do get it every winter. You've had 268% more rainfall over the last 10 days than what was expected."

Heavy snow seen in northern parts yesterday was caused by the low pressure system sucking in colder air from the region round the Scottish Highlands, he said.

Belfast Telegraph


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