independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

Met Eireann warns of potential damage as it issues Red Alert status

* Damage to the roof of Cork University Hospital
* Up to 10,000 homes suffering from power outages
* Flights to Shannon diverted and some ferry services cancelled
* Met Eireann issues two red alert for parts of the country
* Counties affected are Wexford, Galway, Mayo, Clare, Kerry and Waterford
* Red alert is the most serious weather warning - means 'people should take action to protect themselves and/or property'
* Gusts of between 120kmh and 140kmh are expected in the south west and west of the country
* Gusts of up to 150kmh expected in exposed coastal areas
* High seas expected as well as flooding in coastal areas
* Amber alert remains for remainder country - gusts of up to 120kmh expected

A van driver had a lucky escape when a tree fell into his path while driving  on Loreto Road Killarney during a storm at the weekend.
Picture by Don MacMonagle
A van driver had a lucky escape when a tree fell into his path while driving on Loreto Road Killarney during a recent storm Picture by Don MacMonagle

Tonight's storm has already caused significant damage and flooding nationwide, with up to 10,000 homes still without power.

The canopy at the entrance to Cork University Hospital has collapsed as a result of the high winds and there are high flood alerts across Cork city.

There are currently up to six coastal counties suffering from power outages with up to 10,000 homes reportedly without electricity.

Some flights to Shannon have been diverted to Dublin Airport and a number of ferry services have been cancelled.

Forecasters are warning people to stay indoors for their own safety, since a red alert has been issued for today.

A wind warning has been put in place for Wexford, Galway, Mayo, Clare, Kerry, Waterford, and areas in north Connaught and Ulster.

Heavy torrential rain will be moving in from the Atlantic coast, with a possibility of hail and thunder, Met Eireann has warned.

The national forecaster says severe and damaging gusts of up to 140kmh are expected this evening.

The gusts will reach 150kmh in more exposed coastal areas.

They have also warned of "very high seas" with a significant danger of coastal flooding.

The red alert is now in place and it will run until 3pm tomorrow.

Forecasters say the main feature of tomorrow will be high winds. Ulster and north Connaught will be seeing the worst of these gusts tomorrow, according to Met Eireann.

The most serious weather alert is red, which means people should take action to protect themselves and/or their property.

Met Eireann issued amber alert yesterday for today's storm - but they upgraded this for some parts of the country before noon today.

An amber alert remains in place for the remainder of the country.

Meanwhile, motorists have been warned to watch out for falling trees and debris.

A Met Eireann spokesperson said: "Southeast winds will strengthen during the day and it will become very windy or stormy once again in the evening and night, with severe or possibly damaging gusts."

Tonight, in the west and south west of the country,  will see winds gusting to speeds of 120 to 150kmh, especially in coastal areas.

"There will also be heavy rain or sleet, which will clear to heavy or thundery showers of rain or hail overnight," the spokesperson added.

Motorists should expect icy roads on Saturday night as temperatures drop to -2C.

There are also fears that the winds could bring down power lines after up to 30,000 homes were left without electricity on Christmas Eve and for several hours yesterday.

But power was restored to the households, which were mostly in the West, by last evening.

Achill Island, off Co Mayo, was worst-affected after it faced the additional problem of low-voltage transformers being knocked out. Customers on Achill had been asked to minimise their use of electricity for the day as they were supplied on a contingency service from networks some distance away.

Dozens of homes on Inis Mor, the largest of the three Aran Islands off Co Galway, also lost power, but an ESB crew was flown out and managed to restore the supply.

The ESB said a large transformer supplying electricity in the West had been irreparably damaged following a lightning strike. Blackouts also hit counties Clare, Donegal, Galway and Cork. ESB Networks is asking customers to report any fallen wires or emergency situations to 1850 372 999.

FERRY

Meanwhile, ferry services are expected to be further disrupted by the high winds.

Irish Ferries said services were expected to resume tomorrow, but warned: "Because of expected adverse weather conditions, no operational predictions can be made at this time.

"Operational details in relation to cruise ferry services on Dublin to Holyhead and Rosslare to Pembroke routes will remain under review as the weather pattern becomes clear."

Stena Line has announced that it has cancelled the 1.30pm sailing from Dun Laoghaire to Holyhead tomorrow.

LEOPARDSTOWN

Officials at Leopardstown will monitor weather conditions heading into the second day of the Christmas meeting with high winds and heavy rain forecast.

The Foxrock venue is due to hold one of its showpiece cards of the year, featuring the Lexus Chase and the woodiesdiy.com Christmas Hurdle.

Racing took place today on ground officially described as soft.

A statement from the Turf Club read: "Given the forecast for high winds and heavy rain overnight and into tomorrow, the situation will be monitored at Leopardstown ahead of the fixture on Friday, December 27.

"A further weather update will be issued by 7.30am [tomorrow]."

Heading the cast for the Lexus is due to be Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Bobs Worth, who is set to clash again with runner-up Sir Des Champs.

Star of the show in the Christmas Hurdle is expected to be the unbeaten mare Annie Power as she bids to stretch her unbeaten record to nine.

Edel Kennedy

Irish Independent

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