Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Spring Snow Storm Paralyzes Northern Ireland and Scotland

Heavy snow and blizzards have caused widespread disruption in some parts of the UK, with up to 30,000 homes without power in Northern Ireland.

Blizzard warnings have been issued for most of Scotland and Scottish Power said electricity was cut to about 22,000 homes at one point on Tuesday. The Met Office has issued extreme weather warnings for both Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Forecasters predict heavy snowfall and severe blizzards through the morning. Snow could also affect high parts of England and Wales, the Met Office said.

Treacherous conditions

Laura Tobin, from the BBC weather center, said Scotland was likely to see the worst of the weather during the morning.

"Northeast Scotland will see persistent heavy snow and gales," she said.

She added that although snow was forecast to move away from Northern Ireland, freezing temperatures would make driving conditions treacherous. Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Cumbria and the Welsh mountains are also likely to experience snowfall during the day.

Northern Ireland Electricity said late on Tuesday that widespread damage had been caused by the weather, especially in Omagh, Enniskillen, Dungannon, Londonderry, Coleraine and Ballymena.

Winds have brought down electricity lines and poles and caused 250 individual faults. A Northern Ireland Electricity spokesman said: "Around 30,000 customers are without electricity. This number is constantly changing - as faults are repaired in one area, customers are losing power in another.

"In many areas visibility and strong winds are preventing linesmen from climbing poles."

The police said driving conditions across Northern Ireland were "treacherous" and advised motorists to slow down.

Scottish Power said electricity had been restored to most homes in Scotland by Tuesday evening, but warned it would not be able to reconnect about 150 homes in Ayrshire until Wednesday.

Scottish Hydro Electric said about 100 customers in the north east, Tayside and Argyll were without power. Train services were suspended on the East Coast main line north of Berwick after two landslips.

Flood warnings

The Met Office said conditions would worsen in parts of the Highlands and an area stretching from the north-east down through central Scotland and into Edinburgh, the Lothians and the Borders on Tuesday evening, with heavy snow falling through the night.

Strong to gale force winds are also expected to lead to widespread blizzard conditions in the west.

Meanwhile, police in Northumberland urged motorists to be careful on the roads because of poor visibility and heavy rainfall.

Flood warnings issued by the Environment Agency included Waren Burn at Waren Mill and Wansbeck at Morpeth. There were also warnings along the north-east coast of England.

AP; Reuters; BBC; The Weather Channel.

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