Northern Ireland

Weather: High winds alert as storm hits Northern Ireland

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Media captionVideo shows huge waves crashing against Portstewart Strand as strong winds batter parts of Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland's north coast has been battered by severe gales and large waves and the public has been warned to stay away from beaches in the area.

Earlier, the Met Office issued an amber weather warning, particularly for counties Antrim and Londonderry, advising of "dangerous conditions".

So far, the highest wind speed of 64mph has been recorded at Magilligan Point.

Police said Benone beach, Magilligan, has been closed as it is "dangerous to the public" due to the adverse weather.

Officers warned of "high winds, water surges and debris" in the area and said motorists "should heed the closed signs and not venture onto the beach as it is unsafe".

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Media captionBBC Correspondent Chris Buckler reports from Portstewart

The National Trust, which runs the nearby beach at Portstewart, warned members of the public they were risking their lives by going into the sea in a storm.

On its Portstewart Strand Twitter account, the trust said: "We can not stress this enough. Please stay away from the beach. Just witnessed a second person get washed away and only just escape to safety."

Image copyright Andrew hill
Image caption The strong winds have cause damage along Portstewart promenade

The coastguard said they had a report of a man going into the water at Portstewart fully clothed and wearing a rucksack.

However, he came out of the water uninjured.

Image caption A seaside play park in Portstewart has been flooded as the storm hit Northern Ireland's north coast

In the Republic of Ireland, wind speeds of 76 mph have been recorded at Malin Head.

Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE) has warned of possible damage to the electricity network and its emergency repair crews have been on standby.

Travel is also being affected with a number of sailings delayed or cancelled.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Portstewart's play park dragon takes a dip as the sea turns its den into a water park

The Met Office said: "Westerly winds will gust 70 to 80 mph at times and will be combined with exceptionally high waves.

"The public should be prepared for dangerous conditions, especially along causeways and coastal roads exposed to the west."

A yellow weather warning is in place for the rest of Northern Ireland.

Meanwhile, Met √Čireann has issued a status orange wind warning - its second highest category of alert - for all coastal counties including and between Donegal and Clare.

Image copyright Alan Robinson
Image caption The tide has flooded the road beside Benone beach near Limavady

On Tuesday, NIE initiated an escalation plan with emergency crews, engineers and call handlers on standby.

The electricity service said exposed northern locations were especially vulnerable.

In Northern Ireland, NIE customers are advised if they do lose electricity supplies they should contact the NIE customer helpline on 03457 643 643 or report the fault online at nie.co.uk.

Customers can also follow NIE on Twitter @NIElectricity for regular updates.

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