Super storm Darwin sweeps the country

February 17, 2014

As Atlantic super storm Darwin swept across the UK and Ireland last week, Northern Ireland appeared to have emerged from the latest battering comparatively lightly. It was not left completely unscathed however as the unrelenting run of bad weather brought gusts of up to 90mph tearing across the country. Strong winds coupled with torrential rain and heavy snow in some parts caused widespread disruption, travel chaos and power cuts.

On Wednesday an amber weather warning was issued – the second highest of the severe weather alerts and, while most local areas escaped any heavy snow, the rain and winds wreaked their own havoc causing power cuts and localised flooding on streets and roads throughout the district.

At the height of the storm on “wild Wednesday” a section of the shore road between Warrenpoint and Rostrevor collapsed. A chunk of the road at the Drunsesk Road junction was washed away on Wednesday morning after being battered by the strong winds and high tides. The road was immediately closed, with diversions put in place through Rostrevor, Hilltown, Rathfriland, Mayobridge and onto Warrenpoint.

The route was expected to reopen today (Monday) after repairs had taken place.

In the wake of the collapse, SDLP councillor Connaire McGreevy called for a comprehensive safety review of the protective sea wall.

“My fear, and I have made this point on a number of occasions, is that the collapse of the wall is an indication of something much more serious in terms of the entire road system,” he said.

He accused Roads Minister Danny Kennedy of failing in his “duty of care” by not putting the necessary protective measures in place for the coastal road link. He said the minister and his department had not been able to guarantee that the battering from the elements had not forced sea water under the road to such an extent that lives were now at risk.  He cited the partial collapse of another portion of the sea wall closer to Rostrevor last year as an early indication that a “potential disaster” was imminent.

Meanwhile weather warnings of rain, sleet and snow remained in place over the weekend while a reprieve from the severe stormy conditions is expected this week bringing more settled, drier conditions.