Flooding hits Northern Ireland as people urged not to travel

Flooding has hit parts of Northern Ireland and people have been warned not to travel, amid heavy rain and weather warnings.

Parts of Newry in County Down are under water after the city's canal burst its banks on Monday.

Police warned the public not to travel between 21:00 GMT on Monday and 09:00 GMT on Tuesday.

Train lines, roads and some bus services have been affected by the flooding.

An amber warning for heavy rain is in place between those times in counties Armagh, Antrim and Down until 09:00.

It is the second-highest level of alert, indicating an increased risk of flooding and disruption.

Most of Northern Ireland will remain under a yellow warning for rain until until noon, with another yellow warning coming into effect from 21:00 on Tuesday until 09:00 on Wednesday.

A yellow warning indicates the weather is likely to have some impact, for example travel disruption.

Rugby pitches at the Stormont estate after heavy rain
Rugby pitches at the Stormont estate after heavy rain

Further heavy rain is expected on Thursday as Storm Ciarán arrives.

"These warnings follow an extremely wet weekend where flooding has already occurred on many roads," the DfI said.

"The persistent wet conditions on saturated ground and with higher river levels will inevitably lead to more localised flooding.

"If your journey is essential, reduce your speed, stay well behind the vehicle in front, remain focused and always wear your seatbelt."

Travel disruption

The DfI said its roads and rivers teams have been checking and clearing road gullies and drainage grilles and additional staff will be on standby.

"Monitoring of water levels and tides has been ongoing and will continue until the weather warnings have elapsed," it said.

A number of roads are closed, including the A2 Killowen Road in Rostrevor which has been shut due to the possibility of landslides.

Translink said that the train line between Portadown and Newry has been closed until further notice due to flooding, with a bus substitution in place between Lanyon Place and Newry.

There have also been adjustments to bus services, including Belfast to Newcastle and Newcastle to Kilkeel.

Sheep stranded in flooded field in County Down
The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service was called in to help rescue sheep from a field

The Met Office is warning of between 25mm and 50mm of rain in places.

Up to 100mm is also possible over higher ground, with risks of possible flooding.

A number of homes and businesses have already been affected.

Speaking to BBC Radio Ulster's Good Morning Ulster programme, Sinn Féin MLA Liz Kimmins spoke of the "devastating" impact of the weather in Newry.

"Some of the main streets, the whole street has been affected so you are talking tens (of businesses affected)," she said.

"Over the next few days, if it continues to spread, all we can do is try to alleviate that the best we can."

The DfI warned drivers of the potential dangers of driving through floodwater.

"A half wheel depth of fast flowing water could move your car - even driving through shallow water could damage your engine," the DfI said.

The sheep are brought to dry land
The sheep are brought to dry land

In Dromantine, County Down, approximately 100 sheep were stranded in a flooded field on Monday.

About 70 were rescued by local farmers, with the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service rescuing the remaining 30.

Assistant Group Commander Alistair McConville said they had been alerted by a local farmer concerned for the safety of his sheep.

Assistant Group Commander Alistair McConville
Alistair McConville warned farmers who had sheep in fields to get them to shelter or high ground

"Obviously we weren't sure of the depth of the water going in there, so that's why we had our special rescue team from Belfast who kept our firefighters safe and then our large animal rescue team from Newcastle who are specialists in dealing with animal rescues."

He said that, with the weather warnings for more rain, if farmers have sheep in fields they should get them to shelter or high ground.

Storm Ciarán will affect parts of Ireland and Britain on Wednesday night and Thursday.

The system will bring rain to Northern Ireland, especially towards the east.

A warning has been issued from 06:00 until midnight on Thursday.

The Met Office said rainfall would be likely to reach 20-30mm widely, with 40-60mm accumulating across high ground.

Third storm of the season

It is the third named storm of the season after Storm Agnes and Storm Babet.

On Saturday parts of Northern Ireland experienced flooding, leading to road closures in County Down.

Elsewhere, part of the A2 Antrim coast road was closed on Friday after heavy rain led to a landslide between Glenarm and Ballygally.

Meanwhile, in the Republic of Ireland, Met Éireann has issued a status yellow rain warning for County Kerry from midday on Tuesday until midday on Wednesday.

Rain will be heavy at times, which could lead to localised flooding, difficult travel conditions and poor visibility.