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Tuesday 23 September 2014

Beach closures forecast as Hurricane Bertha sparks pollution fears

Published 09/08/2014 | 02:30

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The O'Leary family from Blarney, Co Cork on Garryvoe Beach yesterday, which was closed because of effluent in the water
Hurricane Bertha

Widespread beach closures are feared next week due to a spike in sea bacterial levels caused by heavy rainfall predicted from the remnants of Hurricane Bertha.

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The storm, which was a full hurricane in the Caribbean but will weaken to an Atlantic gale as it brushes the south of Ireland this weekend, is expected to bring heavy rainfall across Munster and south Leinster.

The track of the storm is still uncertain but it is expected to sweep over southern England from the early hours of today.

However, Kerry, Cork, Waterford, Wexford, Carlow, Kilkenny and Tipperary may receive two or three times the normal level of rainfall over the next 48 hours from the fringes of the storm.

Some areas could receive as much as 35mm of rainfall in just 24 hours.

The warning came as another leading Irish beach, Garryvoe in east Cork, had to close due to concerns over sea water quality.

Run-off

Garryvoe became the latest Irish beach to be hit by a spike in sea bacterial levels caused by run-off from coastal farmland due to heavy rainfall.

Heavy rain washes fertiliser and slurry from farmland via streams and rivers into the sea - causing a short-term surge in bacteria levels.

Over the past fortnight swimming was also banned at beaches in Dublin and Wicklow due to water quality concerns.

Seven Dublin beaches have been hit by swimming bans as well as Brittas Bay in Wicklow.

Last month, run-off from coastal farmland also forced temporary beach closures in Youghal in east Cork and several strands on the Beara Peninsula in west Cork.

Met Eireann admitted that there is a strong possibility of heavy rainfall in some southern counties over the weekend.

Forecaster Siobhan Ryan said that while some areas may experience heavy rainfall it will thankfully not be accompanied by powerful storm winds.

The heaviest of the rain showers are likely on Sunday.

"It looks like it's going to go to the south of us and by the time it gets here it will no longer be a hurricane," she said.

"As it moves across the Atlantic it will lose its power over time so the wind won't be too traumatic."

A major weather alert is in place for south England.

Irish Independent

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