Heavy snow has crippled travel in Ireland and the northern U.K. ahead of a powerful North Atlantic storm that is expected to bring yet another blast of winter along with powerful wind gusts.
Emergency managers across Northern Ireland attempted to keep up with the snow as best they could on Tuesday, but more than 100 schools were closed on Wednesday as heavy snow fell across Londonderry, Tyrone, and Fermanaugh countie. Public bus services were also suspended.
Need to brave this day sooner or later. pic.twitter.com/MkrrlfVhQs
— Kevin@Deer Friends (@kevinharkin3) January 14, 2015
The Belfast Telegraph writes that roads were “chaotic” in parts of Northern Ireland during the heavy snow, and that residents were somewhat surprised by the amount of snow that ended up accumulating on the roads:
Geraldine McCormick lives in the Waterside area of Londonderry but works across the Craigavon Bridge in the cityside. It normally takes 15 minutes each morning but yesterday took over an hour and left her late for work.
She said: “I didn’t realise the roads were as bad as they were and I came down Fountain Hill as I normally do, but it was terrifying because the car in front of me started sliding all over the place and I didn’t know what to do.
“Thank God I managed to stay in control, but it was a crawl right down Spencer Road and across the bridge and instead of reaching work before 9am as I usually do it was after 10am, but I still wasn’t the last one in. “I reckon I will try and walk home, it would probably be quicker and safer.”
— Tim Ballisty (@IrishEagle) January 14, 2015
Despite their northern location, Ireland and Northern Ireland are not entirely acclimated to snow, given the proximity to the warm North Atlantic current. The current, which originates in the tropics and extends from the Gulf Stream, helps to moderate the temperature in Ireland and the U.K., and often mitigates the formation of snow.
— Network Rail Scot (@NetworkRailSCOT) January 14, 2015
Heavy snow disrupted travel in Scotland, as well, where the Guardian reports that over 90 schools and nurseries were closed, and rail crews were working hard overnight to keep the tracks clear. Despite their best efforts, some routes needed to be closed on Wednesday due to strong winds. “Safety has to be our first consideration during severe weather,” David Dickson, the route managing director for Scotland, told the Guardian. “Where conditions are predicted to be most severe, we have agreed to withdraw a limited number of services until the worst of the storms have passed.”
Tuesday’s snow comes ahead of a powerful North Atlantic storm that has been rapidly intensifying as it tracks toward Ireland and the U.K. The minimum pressure in the storm is forecast to sink as low as 944 mb on Thursday, and will be packing hurricane-force winds as it approaches the west coasts of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Wave heights have already reached 30 feet as the storm tracks east.
— Brandon Miller (@BrandonCNN) January 14, 2015
The U.K. Met Office has issued a yellow warning for winds up to 80 mph across Northern Ireland. “South to southwesterly gales or severe gales are expected to develop across areas adjoining the Irish Sea this evening, with gusts reaching 60 to 70 mph in places, possibly around 80 mph in exposed coastal and hilly sites,” The Met Office writes. “The winds will ease by midnight, but then after something of a lull, a further spell of very strong winds, this time from the west, is expected from late Thursday morning onwards into the evening, again with gusts of 70 mph or more in places.”
Another blast of snow is expected behind the storm on Thursday night into Friday for Ireland and the northern U.K.
— Jonathan Gardiner (@jonnygardiner) January 14, 2015
— Alan Lavender (@lavenderlens) January 13, 2015
— Lesley Hunter (@laurel144) January 14, 2015