Northern Ireland’s weather was a tale of two climates yesterday as parts of the province ground to a halt in heavy snow — while others saw temperatures rise above freezing for the first time in weeks.
Many in eastern parts of the province yesterday woke to find the snow and frost replaced by driving sleet, schools being reopened and the last remaining patches of slush melting away.
Temperatures have risen slightly in recent days and yesterday hovered between 4C in daytime and a night-time -1C, transforming rain into treacherous ice.
It was very different in western counties and parts of Co Down where blizzard-like conditions led to the closure of 17 schools.
The Met Office has warned there could still be another blast of snow on the horizon as it issued a warning that severe weather could hit parts of here tomorrow.
“A band of snow will move slowly north-eastwards during Tuesday evening and the first part of Wednesday before easing off,” the Met Office said.
“Accumulations of 2-5cm are likely in many places through this period, perhaps with 5-10cm locally. The strengthening east to southeast wind is also likely to lead to drifting of snow.”
Forecaster Aisling Creevy of Meteogroup said the next few days should see a slight improvement in temperatures.
“That’s the pattern for the rest of the week — it’s improving but still staying quite cold,” she said.
More than 700 people had water cut off yesterday. Northern Ireland Water said some customers may have a temporary loss of supply or drop in pressure as staff repair burst watermains.
The main areas affected were Ballymoney; Newry; Londonderry; Newtownards; Ballynahinch; Holywood; Banbridge; Dromore; Omagh; Dungannon; Belfast; Ballymena; Lisburn; Downpatrick; Armagh and Craigavon.
“NI Water would remind all customers that they are responsible for the pipe work within their own properties and would urge all property owners to check their properties, including vacant premises, outbuildings and animal drinking troughs for any leaks and bursts. If you do see any bursts or runs of water, please contact us immediately.
“We would also ask that customers do not run their taps unnecessarily.”
Meanwhile, one Alliance Party councillor, Carrickfergus District Policing Partnership chair Stewart Dickson, called on social services to take action against parents who allow their children to walk onto frozen lakes and rivers.
Examinations at Northern Ireland's schools and universities have so far been unaffected by the harsh weather.
This is in start contrast to the situation in England where some pupils were unable to reach their schools to sit exams. Schools with pupils taking GCSEs and A-Levels had to be given priority treatment in clearing away snow to help exams to go ahead as planned.
Queen's University in Belfast and the University of Ulster both said yesterday no exams had been disrupted by the weather.
Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for Northern Ireland's exams body, the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA), said: “CCEA’s January series of examinations began last Thursday and all timetabled examinations went ahead as planned.”