Ulster washed out by heavy rains

A hardy soul makes his way home through the puddles in Belfast
A hardy soul makes his way home through the puddles in Belfast

The PSNI warned drivers right across Northern Ireland to exercise caution yesterday as heavy rain, snow and winds caused significant travel disruption for much of the day.

The Met Office had yellow snow and rain warnings in place across the Province, with the rain warning persisting until 8am this morning.

A PSNI spokeswoman said: “Police are advising motorists across the province to exercise caution on the roads, slow down, use your dipped headlights and keep a safe distance from the car in front. Particularly, in the areas of County Tyrone and Londonderry, due to heavy snow showers.”

In Co Londonderry, police closed the Glenshane Pass for a time due to heavy snow and there were long tailbacks. Police advised motorists not to use the Windyhill Road, Coleraine to Limavady as it had not been gritted.

Heavy rain in the Limavady and Magilligan areas also resulted in stretches of road being covered in surface water while snow fell on the Mountain Road.

In Co Down, the coastal Rostrevor and Warrenpoint road, which was partly washed away by storms earlier in the week, was repaired several days early. SDLP South Down MLA Karen McKevitt praised “the tireless professionalism of Roads Service and NIE staff” for their efforts.

In Co Antrim, the Longshot and Lower Rashee Roads in Ballyclare and the Antrim Road, Templepatrick were all closed.

Trains from Great Victoria Street station in Belfast to Portrush, Larne, Coleraine, Londonderry Whitehead and Carrickfergus all suffered delays of 10-16 minutes due to weather conditions.

In Belfast, last night’s rugby match between Ulster and the Scarlets was postponed as the pitch was unplayable.

A spokeswoman for the Met Office said rain began early yesterday morning and persisted into the afternoon across Northern Ireland. Speaking last night, the spokeswoman said the last 24 hours saw the heaviest rain in north and eastern counties of the province, where between 15-20mm fell on average. The highest rainfall was in north east Antrim, with almost 30mm.

That was “a lot of rain” for this time of year, she said.

A Yellow Snow Warning was in place from noon yesterday until midnight for ground over 250m high, while there was also a Yellow Rain Warning from noon yesterday until 8am this morning.

It was also “quite breezy” across Northern Ireland yesterday, she said, with average speeds of up to 40mph, rising to 50mph on the coast and higher ground. The county down coast saw gusts of up to 59mph.

Last night was expected to see scattered blustery showers, she said, which could be heavy and would persist until this morning. But the showers should become more isolated in the afternoon and give way to sunny spells.

“Sunday should be much more settled and mark the beginning of a return to more normal conditions for next week,” she said. “There will be some more rain overnight Sunday to Monday but it will be less persistent and marked by more interludes.”