Northern Ireland

Snow disrupts travel and closes schools in NI

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Media captionSnow makes driving conditions difficult in Newtownabbey, County Antrim

Heavy snow has caused widespread travel disruption in Northern Ireland, with bus and rail services affected and some roads closed.

Translink has suspended all its bus services until further notice, rail services may be delayed or cancelled.

Many schools have said they will not open on Wednesday due to bad weather. The full list is available here.

Image copyright PSNI/Facebook

The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service said crews attended at least 13 crashes due to hazardous road conditions.

An amber weather warning for snow and ice is in place until 08:00 GMT on Wednesday.

A number of schools either remained closed or pupils were sent home early.

The Department for Infrastructure has about 300 staff and 130 gritters at its disposal to deal with the conditions.

In Kilwaughter, County Antrim, a car left the road and crashed into a ditch at about 06:20 GMT.

By lunchtime, the red Peugeot was barely visible as it was covered in snow.

Image caption Can you spot the crashed red car, buried between two bushes?

In Rathfriland, County Down, the Banbridge Road was reported to be impassable due to heavy snow but motorists are still trying to drive along it.

'Treacherous'

In County Armagh, a lorry became "stuck due to snow" on the Markethill Road.

Police have advised that the area is "treacherous" and drivers should avoid it.

Image copyright Press Eye

They have also warned motorists to avoid the upper Ligoniel Road and Ballyhill Road in north Belfast following a single-vehicle crash in the area.

Sinn Féin posted a resident's photo of the collision on the Ligoniel Road crash on Facebook, accompanied by an appeal for "extreme caution" on the roads.

Image copyright North Belfast Sinn Féin
Image caption A car crashed in snowy conditions on Belfast's Ligoniel Road

Cllr Ryan Murphy said: "Already this morning we have heard reports of two car crash incidents in the Oldpark area. The incidents at Cliftonville Circus and Ligoniel Road were reported in recent hours.

"The extreme weather conditions require extreme caution by road users and although extensive gritting has taken place much of this will have been washed away by the rain, sleet and snow," he added.

Image copyright Press Eye
Image caption A barrister in Belfast makes her way to court through the blizzard

"With further deterioration of the weather conditions forecast I would urge people to avail of the grit provided at key drop off points and to check on elderly and vulnerable neighbours."

Meanwhile, the sixth-named storm of the British and Irish winter season - Storm Fionn - will reach the Republic of Ireland on Tuesday night.

Irish weather service Met Éireann has forecast that Fionn will bring strong winds to western parts of the state, but the storm is not expected to reach warning limits in the UK.

The UK Met Office's amber weather warning for snow and ice for parts of Northern Ireland will be in force from 15:00 on Tuesday until 08:00 on Wednesday.

Image copyright Press Eye

"Snow showers will be heavy and frequent through the rest of Tuesday, gradually easing off during the early hours of Wednesday," the warning said.

The Met Office has forecast 5-10 cm of snow on low ground, but warned high ground areas could see as much as "15-25 cm building up".

Twelve specialist snow blowers have also been prepared for use in Northern Ireland.

The PSNI has warned drivers not to make unnecessary journeys.

The Department for Infrastructure has also warned drivers to "be prepared for road conditions changing over short distances".

Image copyright Press Eye/Darren Kidd

John Irvine, from the department, said: "Despite our best efforts it is important to remember that we cannot guarantee ice-free roads even after salting, as showers can wash salt off the road and ice may form.

"So far this year, 43,000 tonnes of salt has been spread on our roads and a further 77,000 tonnes is stockpiled and ready for use."


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