Sunday 25 September 2016

Storm Desmond: Strong gusts prevent flight from landing in Dublin as firemen battle to save homes from floods

Cormac McQuinn, Adam Cullen and Greg Harkin

Published 04/12/2015 | 02:30

Storm Desmond arrives on Lough Lein Killarney late on Friday evening rising the waters and flooding part of the fairway on the 1st hole at Killarney Golf Club. Picture by Don MacMonagle
The latest rainfall radar
Members of the public brave the bad weather on Grafton Street, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Members of the public brave the bad weather on Grafton Street, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Members of the public brave the bad weather on Grafton Street, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Windy weather conditions as Met Éireann has issued a status yellow weather warning across the countryPic Stephen Collins/Collins Photos
Windy weather conditions as Met Éireann has issued a status yellow weather warning across the countryPic Stephen Collins/Collins Photos
Waterford IT students wade through the floods on the Cork Road
Flooding in Arklow, Co Wicklow

STRONG gusts prevented a flight from Paris arriving in Dublin Airport this morning with a pilot forced to abort a landing attempt as firemen in Donegal battled to save homes from the floods

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The Cityjet flight from the French capital was due to land before 8am but the BAe 146 aircraft carrying more than 50 passengers was forced to divert to Belfast due to Storm Desmond.

The plane was buffeted by strong winds as its captain made an attempt to land in Dublin.

The aircraft shook as it descended under the clouds towards the runway and it became clear that it wouldn't be possible to touch down.

The pilot powered up the engines and the plane climbed again. After circling for a while he announced that the flight would be diverted to Belfast International airport, landing at around 8:40 to a round of applause.

The passengers are now on a bus provided by CityJet.


Gabriel McArdle (48)  from Co Louth was flying home from a business trip in Nigeria via Paris.

"It's no fun at all being blown around - it was very scary," he said of the aborted landing in Dublin.

Members of the public brave the bad weather on Grafton Street, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Members of the public brave the bad weather on Grafton Street, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

"it just wasn't coming down and if it was it might have been on the grass".

"The weather is the weather," he said of the situation.

Anyone travelling is being strongly urged to check with their airline directly for updates.

Separately, gardai in Donegal are advising people not to travel today unless absolutely necessary.

Gda Inspector Goretti Sheridan said: "Road conditions are treacherous. There is flooding in many areas and we would urge people not to travel."

She said conditions in Ballybofey, Castlefin, Raphoe and Lifford were extremely poor.

Last night, Fire crews were battling to save homes in the North West as a month's worth of rain fell.

Homes in Donegal Town which were flooded just three weeks ago were flooded again.

Windy weather conditions as Met Éireann has issued a status yellow weather warning across the countryPic Stephen Collins/Collins Photos
Windy weather conditions as Met Éireann has issued a status yellow weather warning across the countryPic Stephen Collins/Collins Photos
Members of the public brave the bad weather on Grafton Street, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

Emergency services were also in place around the twin towns of Ballybofey and Stranorlar as the River Finn rose to dangerous levels.

Crews from 15 stations across Donegal had spent the night filling emergency sandbags.

A number of these were placed at the entrance to Letterkenny General Hospital but flood waters were being kept back there, a stream which caused flooding there two years ago was being monitoried.

Credit: Met Eireann
Credit: Met Eireann

Civil Defence volunteers were also in high demand, helping farmers move animals to higher ground.

The main N56 between Dunfanaghy and Letterkenny had to be closed outside Creeslough as the road was impassable.

Council teams spent the morning removing trees from a number of roads including the Glenties Road after 120km/hr wind gusts overnight.

Meanwhile, motorists are being urged to drive with extreme care this morning as strong winds and rain continue to affect many parts of the country with Storm Desmond.

Around 3,600 homes are without power this morning after Storm Desmond lashed the country overnight. The main areas affected are Tuam, Letterkenny, Killibegs, Galway, Athlone and Mitchelstown.

A Status Red weather warning remains in place this morning as Storm Desmond moves across the country. Met Eireann's highest status warning is in place for large parts of the west coast with flooding likely in many westerly counties.

The warning will remain in place until tomorrow morning.

There has also been some disruption to flights in Dublin and Cork airports, with some cancelled and some diverted.  The flights affected are mainly domestic and UK bound flights.

Irish Ferries has cancelled all Jonathan Swift fast craft sailings today. Customers will be accommodated on cruise ferry sailings.

Stena Line's Rosslare to Cherbourg and Rosslare to Fishguard have also been hit by the weather.

The 7am Dublin to Sligo route is delayed by an hour after water levels affected signalling.

Met Eireann has also issued a number of Status Orange and Status Yellow warnings for other parts of the country.

The Status Red warning - the most severe that the forecaster can issue -  is in place for Connacht, Donegal, Clare and Kerry.

A Status Orange wind warning is in place for Donegal, Galway, Leitrim, Mayo, Sligo and Clare.

Southwest winds with speeds of 55 to 75km/h will gust 100 to 120km/h. Winds will be strongest for coastal areas.

Counties Cavan, Cork and Limerick have also been given Status Orange rainfall warnings with "incessant falls of heavy rain.

A Status Yellow wind warning is in place for Leinster, Cavan, Monaghan, Roscommon, Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Tipperary and Waterford.

Clare County Council is reporting widespread flooding of roads across County Clare as a result of ongoing heavy rainfall.

"We are advising members of the public to avoid all travel other than when necessary while Met Éireann's Red Alert remains in place," Tom Tiernan, Senior Engineer, Clare County Council said.

"Motorists are likely to encounter flooded roads that Council crews have not yet reached or have not been reported as flooded. Motorists are advised to not attempt to drive through flooded roads.

"It is anticipated that the flooding situation on the county's road network will worsen during the day and further updates will be issued," added Mr. Tiernan.

The following are among the roads which are either closed to traffic or are likely to be closed due to flooding:

Thousands of householders across Munster were left without power as winds which gusted overnight to more than 100kph brought down trees and power lines.

However, flooding remains the greatest risk from the fourth major Atlantic storm to hit Ireland this winter.

Both Kerry and Clare warned that 'Status Red' alerts, the highest level of weather warning, remain fully in place.

In Cork, the concern is that heavy rainfall on mountains in Kerry and north Cork will result in flooding across Lee, Blackwater and Funcheon river valleys over the next 36 hours.

Flood-prone towns including Fermoy and Mallow are now on high alert with new Office of Public Works (OPW) protection systems set to receive their first major test.

Cork city is hoping to avoid a repeat of damaging floods with experts predicting that while there may be localised flooding, high tides will not coincide with the predicted water surge on the River Lee.

Strong winds caused havoc for commuters for the second time in five days in Cork.

A number of flights from Cork Airport were either postponed or cancelled due to wind conditions.

Worst hit were regional flights to UK airports including Manchester and Birmingham.

Clare Co Council urged people to maintain their flood protection measures until Sunday evening.

Senior engineer Paul Moroney said flooding was inevitable given the level of predicted rainfall.

"All river systems throughout the county are very elevated following continued heavy rainfall in recent weeks. Streams and rivers in high ground or mountainous areas of Clare may burst their banks, leading to a heightened risk of flooding for adjoining lands, property and roads," he said.

"The heavy rainfall will be accompanied by sustained strong gale to storm force winds with gusts exceeding which will exceed 100kph resulting in dangerous driving conditions."

Mr Moroney said the weather threat was so severe the council was ready to trigger its crisis management team under the agreed Major Emergency Management protocol.

The public were again urged to avoid exposed coastal areas given the risk to safety posed by the storm.

Major sports events in Kerry and Cork were cancelled amid public safety fears.

The Glow Christmas Festival in Cork was cancelled on Saturday together with its Yuletide food market.

A marathon in Clonakilty was cancelled together with sports events in Tralee and Killarney.

There was severe flooding along some coastal routes in Kerry with floods also forcing the temporary closure of the Glenflesk road out of Killarney.

Motorists were urged to avoid the area or, if they had to undertaken essential journeys, to follow diversions via Millstreet on the Cork-Kerry road.

Flooding was also reported on roads in Fermoy, Ballylickey, Lissarda and Macroom.

ESB repair crews were working in Kerry, Clare, Limerick and Cork as the power network again bore the brunt of the weather damage.

The main damage in Cork was focussed on the Fermoy-Glanworth area.

Both Gardai and the AA urged motorists to slow down and drive with extreme caution given the risk posed by localised flooding and the threat of fallen trees.

Gardai also warned that people should be extremely careful near streams and rivers given their dangerously swollen state.

The weather alerts will remain in place until later tomorrow when Storm Desmond is expected to have fully passed over Ireland.

The heaviest rainfall was reported in Claremorris in Co Mayo where 46MM of rain recorded there so far.

Wind may abate for a time today, but Met Eireann warns that guest will pick up again later this afternoon.

The highest gust was reported at  Mace Head, Co. Galway yesterday with speeds of 120km per hour.

Motorists are being advised to drive with care - particularly in the west of the country this morning, with flooding reported in Galway, Roscommon, Mayo, Donegal and Kerry. There are also reports of trees down in places around the country.

The main Killarney to Macroom road at Glenflisk is closed due to flooding.

The Clonakilty marathon has been cancelled today.

Gardai in Galway are advising motorists to avoid coastal roads, particularly around Salthill.

The power outages are mainly confined to the west coast - with   Gurranebane the worst hit with 111 affected, Bandon with 97, Claregalway with 95 outages, Kinsale with 81.

On the east coast, in Wexford, Ferns has been hit by power outages with 96 faults reported.

Aer Lingus has said some of its regional services have been affected by the storm - while in Dublin Airport some flights are struggling to land in the high winds.

The country has been put on a flood alert with up to 60mm of rain and gales of up to 100km per hour expected to batter the country in the next 24 hours.

Met Eireann have issued five weather warnings including a Red Alert warning for heavy rain in Donegal, Connacht, Clare and Kerry.

There is also an Orange Alert wind warning for Donegal, Galway, Leitrim, Mayo and Sligo with winds of up to 130km/hr expected, as well as three other warnings for the south and east coast.

Forecasters have predicted up to 150mm of rain on high ground and 70mm of rain to fall elsewhere and described the weekend's weather as "incessant falls of heavy rain".

"People in the West won't be able to get out their front doors," Met Eireann's Siobhan Ryan said this afternoon.

Clare County Council have already issued a warning to residents urging land, home and business owners in flood prone locations "to remain vigilant" over the coming days.

Parts of the south and west were brought to a standstill yesterday as flood waters spilled onto roads in Cork, Wexford, Wicklow and Limerick. In Waterford, a number of local roads were impassable due to flooding and landslides.

In Kildare, the left lane of the M9 Waterford to Dublin road was closed due to flooding.

The treacherous conditions led the Road Safety Authority to issue a stark warning to motorists to take care while on the roads.

Gardai warned drivers to take "extra care" as Friday night is set to be wet and windy with heavy rain.

The Irish Coastguard also issued a warning, saying: "As you know there is a major storm on the way.

"Please use common sense and stay away from headlands, piers and cliffs that take heavy spray.

"The spray can be replaced by a life ending wave in a blink of an eye."

Meanwhile, Dublin Fire Brigade rescued a person from a van which got stranded in flood water in Stepasode, Dublin yesterday.

Met Éireann said they expect "more of the same" in the coming days with the unsettled conditions expected to last well into the weekend.

Weather chiefs said we can expect a dry start this morning but should brace ourselves for a washout in the afternoon, with weather warnings expected to be implemented in the evening.

"We can expect an entirely different kind of day [this] morning," said forecaster John Eagleton.

"But as the day progresses, the weather will worsen. It will start to become very windy in the mid-afternoon with gusts of up to 100km expected to take hold.

"We will then see scattered showers moving in from the west, spreading across the east," he added. "The conditions will be far worse in the west, where we are expecting between 50mm and 60mm of rain in the next 48 hours, and there are real concerns that a number of rivers will burst their banks.

"In the east, conditions will still be bad, with around 20mm to 30mm of rain expected," he said.

Highest temperatures will range between 10C and 12C. The howling gales are expected to ease somewhat tonight.

However, the miserable wet weather will continue well into tomorrow night.

Flooding advice including how to identify flooding risks and protect property against flooding is available on www.flooding.ie.

Irish Independent

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