About 200 roads cleared as Storm Hector leaves debris trail

Media caption,

Coastline battered by Storm Hector

Storm Hector brought down trees, branches and power lines across Northern Ireland overnight, leading to 300 calls to the roads authorities.

Debris has been cleared from about 200 roads, but up to 20 remain closed while Department for Infrastructure staff and contractors continue the clean up.

Gusts in Belfast reached 60mph but the wind is set to ease in the afternoon.

Met Éireann said "severe and damaging gusts" hit the Republic of Ireland's coastal counties before moving west.

Image caption,
Hector is the eighth named storm of 2017-2018
Image caption,
A tree fell on All Souls Church of Ireland on Elmwood Avenue in Belfast

On the roads, the storm has caused travel disruption in towns and cities across Northern Ireland:

  • All ferry sailings between Rathlin Island and Ballycastle have been cancelled
  • The A30 Glenavy Road remains closed between Hungry House Lane and Whinney Hill due to a fallen tree and a power line - diversions are in place
  • Kilmegan Road, Castlewellan closed due to a fallen tree
  • Lurgan Road roundabout closed due to fallen trees
  • Ormiston Parade, Belfast, closed due to a fallen tree
  • Elmwood Avenue, Belfast partially closed due to a fallen tree
  • Derrymore Road, Bessbrook, closed due to a fallen tree
  • Drumiller Road, Newry, closed due to a fallen tree

A Department for Infrastructure (DfI) spokesperson said more than 150 workers have been involved in the operation to clear blocked roads.

"The department is also working with utility providers to clear any trees that have fallen onto BT or NIE powerlines," they added.

"The latest roads information is available at www.trafficwatchni.com."

'Weather warning continues into afternoon'

By Angie Philips

Storm Hector, an unseasonably deep low for the time of year, has been moving past the northwest of Britain and Ireland and producing some very lively gusts of wind.

Even inland, gusts have widely been reaching 40-50mph, but the strongest winds have mostly been towards the north and west and exposed parts of the east coast with the peak of the winds on Thursday morning.

The highest gust recorded was 74mph at Orlock Head, North Down at 08:00 BST, followed by 69mph at Ballypatrick Forest, North Antrim, at 06:00 BST.

The amber 'be prepared' warning lapsed at 09:00 BST, but still a yellow 'be aware' warning remains in place into the afternoon.

There is already a lot of debris and many trees are down, and there could still be some disruption with gale or severe gale force gusts.

The wind will gradually ease through the day, but it will still be blustery with bright spells and showers.

The storm has also caused widespread power cuts, the worst affected areas were Craigavon, Newry, Omagh and Campsey.

Image caption,
Storm Hector batters Portstewart prom in County Londonderry

NIE said about 26,000 homes and businesses have had their electricity supplies restored by 20:00 BST on Thursday.

It said that "a small number of homes and businesses" remained without power but they should have their supply restored on Thursday night.

It said winds with the highest recorded speeds in June since 1962 had hit Northern Ireland.

Edel Creery, head of communications at NIE Networks said customers should contact the company if their power is disrupted on 03457 643 643.

Image source, NIE
Image caption,
An NIE map shows the main areas affected by electrical power shortages due to the storm

"We are grateful for the patience of all of the customers who lost power due to Storm Hector," said Mr Creery.

"The severity and intensity of the storm gusts, caused considerable damage to the electricity network and left us with almost 600 faults which were time consuming and labour intensive to repair."

Image caption,
Waves crash over Portstewart harbour
Image source, MET OFFICE
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Hector is the eighth named storm of 2017-2018, coming in the aftermath of Aileen in September, Brian in October, Caroline and Dylan in December and Eleanor, Fionn and Georgina in January.