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Tail end of storm Jonas headed for UK

Heavy rain alert as the killer storm that brought snow chaos to US looms

By Linda Stewart

Storm Jonas is poised to descend on Northern Ireland - but instead of snow it will bring torrential rain.

The storm, which has caused havoc across the eastern states of the USA and claimed the lives of at least 29 people, will sweep warm tropical air into the UK and Ireland, dumping up to 100mm of rain on exposed upland areas.

The Met Office has issued a yellow severe weather warning for tomorrow, highlighting a risk of flooding and potential for disruption to travel. The active frontal system is expected to hit Wales and western England, but could also affect Northern Ireland.

A further yellow warning has been issued for Friday when another spell of heavy rain and southwesterly gales is expected to sweep Northern Ireland.

It comes after Armagh Observatory reported that Sunday night was the warmest January night since its records began in 1843. Sunday was also the second warmest January day on record at Armagh, reaching highs of 15C.

"The minimum temperature recorded during the night of January 24/25 was 12.6C.

This was the warmest January night on record at Armagh, that is, since records of daily maximum and minimum temperatures began at Armagh in 1843," Professor Mark Bailey said.

"The second and third warmest January nights at Armagh are now the nights of January 10, 1998 (12C) and January 3, 1932 (11.7 C). The highest temperature recorded during the same day, namely January 24, was 15C.

"This was also exceptionally mild, making this day the second warmest January day on record at Armagh.

"The warmest January day at Armagh remains January 25, 1847, which reached 15.7C, and the third warmest day is now January 26, 2003 (at 14.7 C)."

The Met Office warned that an active frontal system was expected to affect western areas through the second half of today and into tomorrow.

"Many parts of the warning area could see 30-50mm of rain, whilst the most exposed upland parts could see 80-100mm.

"The rain will also be accompanied by south or southwesterly gales and possibly severe gales at times, especially along Irish Sea coasts and over high ground.

"It looks as if the heaviest rain and strongest winds will occur in two main bouts - one late morning and afternoon on Tuesday and another Tuesday night into Wednesday, before clearing to the southeast on Wednesday afternoon," a spokesman said. Another area of low pressure is expected to move quickly east across the Atlantic later in the week, bringing a spell of very windy weather to all parts of the UK, whilst rain will be persistent and heavy over west facing hills.

"Rainfall totals of 20-40mm are expected fairly widely within the yellow area with as much as 80mm possible over some high ground exposed to the southwest in western Scotland, northern England and Wales," the spokesman added.

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