Strong winds cause damage across Northern Ireland

High winds are expected

High winds are expected

Ferocious gusts of wind ripped up trees, caused powercuts, and wrought general havoc on parts of the Northern Ireland on Thursday.

The Met Office reported that wind surges of well over 70 miles per hour struck during the morning, with chilly conditions wafting over in their wake.

There were accounts of trees blocking roads, of water breaching sea walls – and even of a giant Christmas tree at Stormont being wrecked thanks to the pummelling wind.

The highest gust was recorded at Orlock Head in Co Down when a wind speed of 76mph was clocked at about 10am on Thursday – while at the same time Magilligan in the north-west saw a reading of 74mph.

By 9pm on Thursday night, Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE) were reporting that upwards of 30,000 properties which had experienced electricity cuts during the day had had their power supplies restored.

“The damage has been significant,” said NIE in a statement, “with lines brought down and poles broken by the high winds.”

Travellers were presented with headaches too, as some disruption was reported on parts of the rail network – as well as on a string of roads due to fallen trees and unsafe buildings.

Roads in Cookstown, Downpatrick and the main Coleraine-Limavady road were affected.

Coastguard Chris Little, station officer in Coleraine, said he had encountered blocked roads, and even heard that Portrush’s main street was closed because of danger from loose slates.

“The conditions here were very rough,” he said.

“In Portstewart the waves had actually come into the children’s play park.”

It is shielded by a sea wall, but he said the fierce surf had left it flooded yesterday.

He added that it was “unusual” but that he has seen worse, with shops on the promenade deluged on past occasions.

There had been forewarning of the weather, and he had not been called to any incidents during the day.

“Thankfully,” he said, “everybody was able to watch the waves from a safe distance.”

As coastguard colleague Gordon Munro had put it yesterday evening: “I don’t think there would be anyone foolish enough to go out today.”

Forestry officer Jim Marshall said that workers had been called out earlier in the day to deal with problems with Stormont’s own tree – a Norway Spruce, which he said would be over 30ft high.

“Severe winds just forced it over and broke it,” he said, adding that he had heard of a similar incident in Ards.

Trees had come down across some forest paths too.

However Dave Clark, forecaster for the Met Office, said that the conditions experienced by Northern Ireland were not particularly bad.

For instance, he said it compared very favourably to the conditions in Scotland, noting that the rain in particular was far less severe in Northern Ireland.

When it came to wind speeds, he said they were really not unusual for this time of year and that Ulster was very much “on the periphery” of the more severe Scottish storms.

“There’s nothing particularly out of the ordinary about it,” he said.

“You just haven’t had it for a while. It’s a wake-up call: welcome to winter.”




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