Cold weather continues to bite in Northern Ireland

A magpie perches on a ram in the Glens of Antrim A magpie perches on a ram in the Glens of Antrim

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Time is running out for thousands of people trying to get back to NI for Christmas, as cold temperatures continue to cause problems to the transport network.

Both of Belfast's airports are open, but cancellations and delays are expected. Dublin Airport was closed due to snow, but has now reopened.

The Met Office has said the minimum temperature expected in NI on Wednesday is -18C.

Hundreds of schools remain closed.

The lowest recorded overnight temperature was -15C in Castlederg, County Tyrone.

City of Derry Airport is open but its website says Aer Arann flights to and from Dublin have been cancelled.

Passengers are being advised to check with their airlines for the latest on flight information.

Translink said it was experiencing "major disruption" to all services on Wednesday.

Roads Service said motorists should continue to remain cautious.

It said salting was carried out on main routes but would have "limited effect at these temperatures".

Colin Brown of the Roads Service said another 25,000 tonnes of salt was on order for Northern Ireland to arrive over the Christmas and new year period.

The consignment is being ordered from Egypt.

Since the start of December, Belfast International Airport has used 100,000 litres of liquid de-icing materials, 60 tonnes of solid de-icing materials, and at least 100 tonnes of road salt on car parks and paths.

Freezing fog

BBC NI weather presenter, Cecilia Daly, said the freezing temperatures were set to continue on Wednesday, but there had not been fresh snow overnight.

"A few snow showers to come today mainly over parts of North Antrim and the north of Derry, otherwise most places will have a dry day," she added.

"There are some freezing fog patches, mainly in the west and they will linger throughout the day.

"Some sunshine to come elsewhere, but it will remain bitterly cold with temperatures staying well below freezing, ranging from minus three celsius in Belfast to minus seven or minus eight celsius over the snow fields.

"Tonight a severe frost will return with a few freezing fog patches too.

Start Quote

We will continue to prioritise those patients who need renal or cancer services”

End Quote John McPoland NI Ambulance Service

"There will also be some fresh snow over parts of Derry, Tyrone and Antrim, but no more than a few cms in most places. Temperatures will drop into negative double digits again with a few spots falling close to minus 15 degrees."

The outlook is for "freezing, but largely dry weather" to continue between now and Christmas Day, with freezing fog in some areas.

Bad weather

The Ambulance Service has suspended transport for non-emergency patients until Christmas Eve.

Communications Officer, John McPoland, said the decision was made because of the "continuing bad weather".

"These would be people travelling to outpatient appointments in the major hospitals and clinics, people with appointments for fracture reviews and things such as that.

"But we will continue to prioritise those patients who need renal services or cancer services.

"We also have an increased number of transfers from one hospital to another and coming to Christmas we always have an increased workload in terms of discharges from hospitals to get people home in time for Christmas.

"So with all those different pressures on us at the minute, we just thought it was better to suspend the non-emergency transport to outpatient clinics."

Details of Wednesday's school closures are available on the news online website and ceefax page 169.

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