Belfast Telegraph

Snow and ice warnings remain in place for weekend

Snow and ice warnings across Ireland and Northern Ireland remain in place for the weekend.

Heavy snowfall across many parts of Northern Ireland on Friday led to some school closures and travel disruption.

Several flights into and out of Belfast were either delayed or cancelled due to the weather.

Belfast City Airport apologised to travellers when a de-icing machine broke down, leading to flight delays.

A number of irate passengers took to social media to complain about being left on the runway for several hours because of the icy conditions.

One traveller, @_aislingbell, Tweeted: "Absolutely shambles @BELFASTCITY_AIR airport this morning, been sat on a plane for over 2 hours with 3 children under 5, ONE de-icing machine available for whole airport".

@T0MPB wrote: "@BELFASTCITY_AIR you really need to sort your de-icing machines out. Sat on the ground ... for near enough 2 hours. Flights only meant to be 50 mins!"

Belfast City Airport Tweeted apologies to passengers saying that the airfield "has been fully operational all morning and continues to be".

The airport said that the de-icing issues experienced were down to the ground handling agent which is appointed by the airline.

A number of flights were also delayed at Belfast International Airport (BIA).

BIA said that the airport's snow clearance teams have been operating gritters, de-icing sprayers, snow ploughs and sweepers to keep the main runway and taxiways operational.

The airlines' ground handling contractor has also been de-icing aircraft prior to departure.

BIA operations director, Alan Whiteside, said everything was being done to keep any disruption to services to the barest minimum.

"We pay lot of attention to Met Office forecasts, and what the weather experts are saying is 'be prepared'.

"We are prepared with our fleet of vehicles which are capable of tackling tough conditions.

"Our teams will remain on stand-by throughout today and tonight, and until the worst of this present spell of awful weather is past," he added.

Passengers have been advised to leave plenty of time for their journey to the airport due to slow moving traffic and wintry road conditions.

A yellow weather warning is in place for the region until 6pm on Saturday.

The Met Office said that snow showers will continue to affect parts of the region overnight and into Saturday, and that 10-20cm of snow is possible for some locations.

Icy surfaces are also likely to be an additional hazard, especially overnight.

In the Republic of Ireland, Met Eireann has issued a Status Orange snow and ice alert for 17 counties over the weekend.

The 24-hour warning, which comes into effect at 11pm on Saturday, covers all of Connacht and counties Cavan, Monaghan, Donegal, Dublin, Kildare, Laois, Longford, Louth, Wicklow, Offaly, Westmeath and Meath.

Gardai in Mayo, Cavan and Westmeath have warned motorists of treacherous road conditions in some areas with ice and snow.

Belfast Zoo was forced to close to the public because of the snow, and the weekend's Wildlife Wonderland event was cancelled.

Zoo manager Alyn Cairns said t he majority of the animals are used to the seasonal nature of the region's weather but those who need it have access to centrally heated indoor housing.

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