Northern Ireland hit by flooding

Tuesday 25th Oct 2011 by theWeather Club

Image: Eddylandzaat

Heavy rain has caused flooding leading to transport chaos in various parts of Northern Ireland. The Belfast to Dublin Enterprise train service was suspended due to flooding at Clontarf in north County Dublin. Roads were closed as rivers overflowed their banks with vehicles having to be towed from the floodwaters. Environment minister Alex Attwood said he was making emergency funds available to cover council costs in tackling flood damage, and said had been liaising with councils to ensure they were able to cope around the clock if necessary.

"In the event of the weather situation continuing to escalate and households being hit by flooding, I will look at how practical assistance can be offered to ensure properties are made habitable as quickly as possible," he said. "I will continue to monitor the situation with my officials on an hour-to-hour basis. This is about putting in place the resources at a council level to ensure help is delivered, as soon as possible, for those severely affected."

The worst-hit areas include Ballyclare, Cushendall and north and west Belfast. There were also reports of localised flooding in Banbridge, Carnlough, Lurgan and Moira. Met Office's John Wylie explained the flooding; "It has been a very wet month indeed and that is really the problem in a nutshell... the ground simply can't take any more water and it is a bit worrying that we are going to see more heavy rain moving across the country."

Weather and climate commentator Philip Eden said the current weather systems bringing the rain were taking longer to move on. "Our rain-bearing systems come from the Atlantic and normally, when the winds are westerly, these systems last three to four hours," he said. "However, this October there has been an absence of westerly winds which means that weather systems moving in from the Atlantic are slow-moving. As a result, these systems are lasting 24-36 hours, bringing sustained periods of heavy rain." Intriguingly Eden hints at a wider reason for the Northern Islander's soggy interlude. "Does this have anything to do with climate change?" He asks. "The lack of ice in the Arctic at the end of the summer may have contributed to the absence of westerly winds."