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The first ever amber extreme heat warning has been issued for NI from 8am today, 21 July  morning right through to midnight on Friday 23 July. It's thought that temperatures could reach up to 33 degrees Celsius in isolated areas of the north during the present heatwave.

Silt cracked in the heat at the mouth of the Clanrye River. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/
Silt cracked in the heat at the mouth of the Clanrye River. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/

Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon has urged people to consider their journeys and also reitterated the need to conserve water as local reservoirs get lower.

The warnings come as the forecast continues to signal for unusually high temperatures as well as continuing high nighttime temperatures creating potential impacts for health. The prolonged nature of the current heatwave has also been a factor for the increased impacts from this continued heat.

The impacts of extreme heat can be many and varied. It can have health consequences, especially for those who are particularly vulnerable, and it can impact infrastructure, including transport and energy, as well as the wider business community. During hot weather there’s often increased traffic near coastal areas, increased use of open water by the public, and an increase in wildfire risk.

Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon has called for everyone to use their water wisely by reducing unnecessary water use to protect supplies. She is also calling on everyone to consider if journeys are necessary given the potential for transport disruption.

Minister Mallon said “These extremely high temperatures mean that demand for water has significantly increased with demand outstripping supply. NI Water is working hard to mitigate any impacts from this but we all have a role to play. I am appealing to everyone to please reduce unnecessary use to protect supplies. If everyone simply uses the water they actually need, there will be plenty for everyone.”

The Minister also urged the public to consider if their journey is necessary given the potential risk of delays on the rail and road network.

The Minister continued “In light of the current high temperatures, along with the ongoing pandemic, I would remind the public to avoid visiting places where there is a chance that large numbers of people will gather and crowds will form.  This is particularly important as we know that delays are likely and this may result in people being in cars or on public transport for an extended period of time which can be very uncomfortable in very hot weather.

“We know that the very high temperatures can have an impact on the rail network with track speeds reduced causing delays to services.  In recent days we have seen large numbers of people flocking to beauty spots across Northern Ireland. While I understand that people want to enjoy the good weather, health and safety must be of paramount importance.  Translink will work to provide some additional capacity on the busiest routes where possible however I would strongly urge the public to consider if their journey is necessary over the coming days.  If you are using public transport, including the Strangford and Rathlin ferries, please remember that the rules requiring face coverings remain in place for everyone’s protection.

“The high temperatures can also have an impact on the road network.  Recent weather has led to a rise in road surface temperatures and with limited cooling at night, the bitumen in some roads has softened.  The Department has been spreading fine dust/grit on the worst affected roads and will continue to do so as necessary. The situation is being monitored and road users should exercise due care and attention at all times. Problems with the roads can be reported at WWW.NIDIRECT.GOV.UK and select ‘Other surface defect.’

“We are also aware that over recent days there have been reports of problematic parking at coastal areas.  I would remind everyone to park in a considerate and responsible manner when visiting local attractions and beauty spots in order to keep all road users, visitors and local residents safe.

“I would also like to place on record my thanks to all of the operational teams who are out there on the ground working in these extreme conditions to ensure we maximise our water supplies and keep our transport moving.”

There is some useful information and advice on extreme heat here: EXTREME-HEAT-WARNING

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