Ice warning in place but Province to avoid severe downpours

Mae Keating and Anna Coleman enjoy a break in the weather in Botanic Gardens, Belfast.
Mae Keating and Anna Coleman enjoy a break in the weather in Botanic Gardens, Belfast.

With severe rain expected to pummel parts of the UK in the days ahead, the Province looks set to continue escaping the most extreme downpours.

Heavy rainfall warnings are in place tomorrow onwards across the southern UK, but not for Northern Ireland.

Some heavy showers had hit the Province during Friday night and Dave Clark, forecaster with the Met Offfice, said the greatest rainfall reading over the weekend – for the period between 7pm on Friday and 7pm yesterday – was in Ballypatrick forest, Co Antrim, where 33mm (1.3 inches) fell.

However, he added: “That is nothing out of the ordinary.”

Speaking from Scotland, Mr Clark said: “Yourselves and us, we’ve missed the majority of it... certainly we’ve been very lucky in the way it’s turned out – Northern Ireland and Scotland.

“Even the north of England, the Lake District, has been fine. It’s down in the south.”

Asked if there was a sign that the heavier rain bands there are set to move north, he said: “No. I’m sure they wouldn’t mind if it did. It’d give them a bit of a break.”

As of 11pm last night, an 11-hour ice warning was in place for the Province.

He said today would be “generally fine”, giving way to a band of rain moving in from the west in the evening.

Tomorrow is expected to see wintry showers over hilly ground; and Wednesday and Thursday are looking much the same.

The private forecasting agency MeteoGroup painted broadly the same picture, but Gemma Plumb added that she “wouldn’t be surprised if we saw some snow falling at times” tomorrow, with Wednesday looking set to see “very windy” conditions accompanying heavy rain.

But she was in agreement that it would be incomparable to the south-west UK where tougher weather conditions were expected for the time being. Between 7pm on Friday and 7pm yesterday, parts of south-west England saw up to 50mm of rain (just under two inches), while in parts of south Wales this reached up to 75mm (just under three inches).

This came after what was already a very prolonged wet and stormy period, during which large chunks of the region had flooded.

In Somerset, residents launched a petition calling for Environment Agency chairman Lord Chris Smith to be sacked.

They were infuriated by his refusal to apologise for the devastation caused by the agency’s decision 20 years ago to stop dredging rivers on the Somerset Levels.

Even though the Labour peer is due to step down from his £110,000-a-year, two-day-a-week job in July, the protesters are calling on the Prime Minister to remove him now.