Northern Ireland

Storm Frank leaves 2,000 homes in Northern Ireland without power

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Media captionThe worst of the storm is due to hit later on Tuesday evening

About 2,000 homes are currently without electricity across Northern Ireland as Storm Frank brings heavy rain and gales in from the west.

Severe weather warnings are in place for Tuesday evening into Wednesday morning.

An amber warning for heavy rain has been issued, valid from 21:00 GMT on Tuesday until 07:00 GMT on Wednesday.

The warning is the second highest that can be issued and means people should be prepared for disruption.

A yellow warning for gale and severe gale force winds is in place from 15:00 GMT until 08:00 GMT on Wednesday.

South easterly wind gusts of 55 to 65 mph - perhaps 70 mph along coastal areas - may cause damage to trees and possibly the electricity network.

Larges waves will bring dangerous conditions to coastal roads.

A yellow warning for rain is also in place from 19:00 GMT to 1500 GMT on Wednesday.

Between 20 to 40 millimetres of rain is expected widely, with up to 70 millimetres over the hills and mountains. This comes on top of Monday night's rain and is likely to cause some further flooding.

Image caption The weather is part of a storm that has been named Storm Frank

NIE Network has warned of possible damage to the electricity network, especially in exposed locations.

The company said about 20,000 customers in total had been affected since Tuesday afternoon and that power had been restored to 18,000 customers.

Emergency crews are working to restore power to those still affected.

The Rivers Agency said its engineers have been checking river levels and clearing drains to try to mitigate any possible flooding.

Agriculture Minister Michelle O'Neill said many staff in the agency had come off their Christmas holidays to help and were ready to respond to requests for assistance.

"Government departments, local councils and drainage authorities are all working closely with many staff put on standby for the next 24 hours," she said.

"We will continue to monitor river levels overnight as well as ensuring culvert inlet grilles are clear of all debris.

"There is a risk that with strong winds forecast for overnight, wind-blown debris can block rivers and grilles."

Image copyright Patrick Woods
Image caption A fallen tree on the Dublin Road, Newry, blocked traffic leaving the city

Andy Sinclair, from the fire and rescue service, said: "Last night was probably unexpected and tonight we've got the weather warnings.

"We are prepared as an organisation to ensure that we've got our people that are properly trained with the resources and the equipment to get out there and deal with it.

"Our advice to people is to stay away and avoid driving through flood water."

Caution

Police also issued a warning to motorists: "Due to anticipated severe weather conditions, high winds, heavy rain and predicted high tides over the next 36 hours, motorists should be mindful of the dangers posed along all coastal roads.

Image caption All P&O ferry crossings between Larne and Cairnryan have been cancelled from 13:30 GMT

"The areas of Newcastle promenade, Ards Peninsula and the coastal route between Warrenpoint and Rostrevor should be treated with caution. Please observe all road closed signs."

The East Antrim Sinn Féin MLA Oliver McMullan lives in Cushendall and urged motorists to avoid the Antrim coast road.

"I would appeal to anyone who doesn't have to, to stay off the coast road tonight," he said.

"I drove part of the way to Carnlough and I turned, it was horrendous.

"I never was as glad to get off that road as I was tonight.

"My own house here, I have had damage to the roof, the back and the front of the house."

All P&O ferry crossings between Larne and Cairnryan have been cancelled from 13:30 GMT.

Stenaline is also warning of possible delays on its route between Belfast and Cairnryan.

Services have been suspended and it is anticipated they will resume at 07:30 GMT on Wednesday.

A number of roads are closed on Tuesday after heavy rainfall caused flooding on Monday night.

In Londonderry, a woman was trapped in her car in the Rosemount area, but managed to free herself.

Sandbags were given out in Omagh and part of the Portaferry Road in County Down was washed away.

The 24-hour flooding incident line is 0300 2000 100.

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