Thursday 22 February 2018

Snow hits football and power supply

Motorists make their way through snow-covered roads, on the Carnlough to Ballymena road in Co Antrim
Motorists make their way through snow-covered roads, on the Carnlough to Ballymena road in Co Antrim

An ongoing snowstorm in Northern Ireland has forced the abandonment of a World Cup qualifying football match and seen electricity cut to more than 110,000 homes and businesses.

At one stage on Friday night a blackout swept across the whole of Belfast. Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE) said an issue with the high voltage transmission network left the entire city without power just after 7.30pm. Power was restored to most areas within a short period of time.

Meanwhile, the PSNI has continued to warn motorists about more road closures due to snow, stranded vehicles and fallen trees.

Around 44,000 homes and businesses across Northern Ireland are still without electricity supplies, with Counties Down and Antrim worst affected. Damage has been caused by high winds, cable icing and trees bringing down lines and breaking poles.

Julia Carson, NIE communications manager, said further problems were expected overnight. "The severe weather is set to continue through tonight and into tomorrow and we are likely to see further damage to the network which will affect electricity supplies," she added.

"Due to the particular weather conditions customers may notice brief dips in their lights on a regular basis. We would ask that customers do not phone in to report these dips and only contact us if their electricity is completely off."

Northern Ireland's scheduled football fixture against Russia at Windsor Park in Belfast was postponed until Saturday afternoon with the agreement of both teams' governing bodies. Ground staff worked throughout Friday in a bid to clear the pitch but with the snow continuing to fall and the forecast remaining bleak, officials were left with little alternative but to reschedule to 3pm on Saturday.

A half marathon event due to take place in Larne tomorrow has also been postponed until next month because of the bad weather. A new date has not yet been confirmed.

Laura Caldwell, weather forecaster with MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said the snow would continue to fall through Friday and into Saturday.

She added: "There will be persistent falls of snow throughout today (Friday) and it will be quite windy and cold. It will take until tomorrow until it starts to ease slightly, though still expect further falls throughout the day. Things will ease away on Saturday night. Sunday will be pretty cloudy, though much drier."

Press Association

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