News Winter Storms

Thursday 17 August 2017

Henry storms first day of spring

Storm Henry – the eighth since November – greeted the opening day of spring with winds of up to 130kmh. It will be followed by Storm Imogen. However, the high seas didn’t stop teenagers jumping off the diving platform at Blackrock in Salthill, Co Galway. Photo: Andy Newman
Storm Henry – the eighth since November – greeted the opening day of spring with winds of up to 130kmh. It will be followed by Storm Imogen. However, the high seas didn’t stop teenagers jumping off the diving platform at Blackrock in Salthill, Co Galway. Photo: Andy Newman

Ralph Riegel and Greg Harkin

Storm Henry invaded St Brigid's Day with a vengeance as the eighth Atlantic storm of the season marked the opening day of spring by leaving almost 5,000 without power.

Winds of up to 130kmh were recorded, with the north and north-west bearing the brunt of Storm Henry's fury.

Up to 5,000 people were left without power in Donegal, Dublin and parts of the mid-west, with the north-west coast the worst hit. The number included 2,000 customers in north Dublin as high winds brought down power lines and caused line faults in Malahide, Portmarnock, Sutton and Ballymun.

Such was the ferocity of the winds that Clare County Council issued a public appeal for people to avoid coastal areas amid safety fears.

Peak

Storm Henry reached its peak late last night with average winds of 65kmh to 80kmh, though gusts of almost 130kmh are understood to have been recorded off Donegal.

Maritime officials were warned that offshore waves could reach heights of between 12 and 15 metres.

The road between Letterkenny and Derry at Killea had to be closed while council workers removed fallen trees.

Fallen trees also closed roads in Strandhill, Co Sligo, and Blackwoods Lane, Dublin, while a lorry caught in the gusts shed its load on the M18 at Killow in Co Clare.

The LÉ Samuel Beckett, recently returned to fisheries protection duties after refugee rescue missions in the Mediterranean, had to take shelter in Lough Swilly as Storm Henry whipped up 15-metre waves off the Donegal coast.

Met Éireann warned that exceptional wave heights were also expected off exposed coastal areas of Mayo, Galway, Derry and Antrim until early today.

However, unlike previous Atlantic storms, Henry was not accompanied by large amounts of torrential rainfall.

The ESB confirmed that Lough Derg water levels in the Shannon basin have fallen again. A spokesperson confirmed that, as a result, water flows from Parteen Weir, downstream of Lough Derg, will be reduced to 230 cubic metres per second.

While the flow levels remain under constant review, the reduced discharge is expected to ease flooding concerns in low-lying areas in Limerick.

These include Springfield, Montpelier, Castleconnell, Mountshannon (Annacotty) and the University of Limerick.

Met Éireann said winds were expected to ease late last night and into the early hours of this morning.

However, today will be cold and blustery with heavy or prolonged showers of rain or hail, some thundery.

They will turn increasingly wintry in the late afternoon and evening, with snow flurries on hills in the northwest.

*****

Ireland's leading climatologist has told how the alphabet of storms set to continue to batter the country in 2016 is proof of global warming.

Storm Henry, the eighth weather event to strike since November, lashed the country last night.

And while storms have always been a feature of our winter weather, Professor John Sweeney, of Maynooth University, said global warming is making them worse.

"We can't say that the storms wouldn't have occurred - but we can say that the probability and severity have increased alongside greenhouse gas loading in the atmosphere."

Last year, Met Éireann and the UK's Met Office jointly asked the public to help name the roster of storms set to strike both sides of the Irish Sea.

Beginning with Abigail, Storm Henry's predecessors included Barney, which blasted Ireland with gusts of up to 110kph in November, and Frank, which flooded parts of the country in December.

Now 'The Hateful Eight' are due to be followed by Storms Imogen and Jake in the coming weeks, before winding down with Wendy later. Other storm names on the horizon include Orla and Mary.

Praising the awareness-building exercise, Professor Sweeney said: "Germany has been naming these winter storms for years. I think it does help - people relate more to names than just another set of isobars."

Irish Independent

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