‘Katesbridge does it again’ as winter weather melting pot hits

An ambulance in attendance near The Outlet �Paul Byrne Photography INBL1503-214PB
An ambulance in attendance near The Outlet �Paul Byrne Photography INBL1503-214PB

Banbridge was faced with a double whammy of wintry conditions last week as heavy snows and sub-zero temperatures bounced off the back of gale force winds and flooding earlier in the week.

In the midst of these conditions, Barra Best reported on Monday that ‘our lowest temperature so far overnight was -8C in Katesbridge’ beating the other well known cold spot Castlederg, which dropped to only -5C.

The snow ploughs and gritters had a busy time in the snow �Paul Byrne Photography INBL1503-211PB

The snow ploughs and gritters had a busy time in the snow �Paul Byrne Photography INBL1503-211PB

Responding to Barra’s announcement, Jenny Heath said: “Whey hey! Katesbridge does it again!” But a not so jubilant, Andrea O’Hare said: “I live in Katesbridge and it’s baltic - brrrr”.

Commenting on conditions across the district, councillor Olive Mercer said: “the people who live in the countryside are finding it difficult making journeys on roads which aren’t gritted, and trying to get to work and get children to school.

“The school buses were off in some areas due to the conditions, but mostly parents managed to get their children into school.

“Falling trees also made driving dangerous. I was travelling from Gilford to Banbridge when I came across a big tree that had blown down and was blocking the road. It hadn’t long happened, but already the police were on the scene sorting out the traffic.

“Some of the accidents across the province were tragic, such as the man who was killed in Lisburn. Things like this just happen in a second. The snowy conditions are a kid’s paradise, but for adults it can be a nightmare.”

The high winds, flooding and fallen trees caused hazardous conditions for travellers across the area on Thursday and a number of homes were affected by power cuts for a time.

A Met Office yellow weather warning had forecast the high winds, swept in by an Atlantic Ocean cyclone dubbed Storm Rachel. Gusts of up to 80mph battered much of Northern Ireland, with the north west worst affected.

As winds subsided the region was transformed into a winter wonderland, which while beautiful to look at brought further disruption.

Schools in Banbridge and Dromore remained open though some of the more outlying areas were affected with Fairhill Primary School in Kinallen and Rathfriland High School closed.

Rathfriland was particularly badly affected but while bus services remained in operation to the village, many motorists were wary of the slippery ascent to the hilltop location.

Banbridge PSNI also issued warnings in the treacherous snowy conditions asking motorists to take care and also urging people to keep a check on their elderly neighbours.