THE winter weather finally arrived this week as heavy snow and ice caused havoc across the borough.
Heavy snowfalls on Friday made road conditions treacherous in many areas, and the wintry weather continued into Monday and Tuesday, causing further disruption for motorists and forcing several schools to close.
Roads Service gritters did their utmost to keep main routes passable, but streets in many residential areas and roads in rural locations were covered in snow, slush and ice, making life extremely difficult for drivers and pedestrians.
There was serious traffic congestion on several major roads during peak times, and some motorists were even forced to abandon their vehicles at the roadside as they struggled to get to grips with the slippery conditions.
Power cuts affected around 80 customers in the Ballyclare area during Friday and Saturday, with a handful of incidents in other parts of Newtownabbey.
Randal Gilbert, Duty Incident Manager at Northern Ireland Electricity, said emergency crews had worked continuously from Friday lunchtime to repair all faults across the electricity network and restore power to homes and businesses as quickly as possible.
Bruslee recycling centre was closed on Monday and Tuesday due to “very slippery and unsafe road conditions”, but the council stressed that it was working to clear the site as quickly as possible.
A council spokesperson confirmed that there was no disruption to bin collection services on Monday or Tuesday, but added that local householders should check the council’s website or call Mossley Mill for further updates if the icy weather continues.
While the freezing conditions caused misery for many householders, motorists and pedestrians, hundreds of local children and young people enjoyed a couple of unexpected days off and had fun playing in the snow, sledging and building snowmen.
Several schools in the Glengormley area, including Edmund Rice College, St Mary’s on the Hill, St Bernard’s, Ashgrove and Glengormley Integrated were closed on Monday, with a number remaining shut the following day. Tildarg Primary School near Ballyclare was also closed on Monday.
Thanks to the snow-shifting efforts of staff, Glengormley Integrated Primary and Tildarg Primary were both able to reopen on Tuesday as normal.
With some parents expressing anger at last-minute school closures, a spokesperson for the NEELB stressed that each school Principal has to carry out a risk assessment in conjunction with health and safety guidelines before deciding whether or not their school should remain open.
More pictures in this week’s Times...