Snow to bring even more misery after flooding deluge - but weekend rain not as heavy as feared
Published 13/12/2015 | 02:30
After a week of relentless rain, snow and ice is now expected to blanket many parts of the country today, making driving treacherous while crews and volunteers work desperately to save homes and businesses from further flooding after yesterday’s deluge.
Dozens of homes have already been flooded after the River Shannon swept into Athlone on top of “widespread road flooding” nationwide.
There were fears of more flooding as swollen rivers overflow their banks due to “a significant rainfall event” yesterday and overnight Friday - but rainfall was not as heavy as feared, giving those already hit by flooding some respite.
However farmers in Clare and Limerick were evacuating their farms as they expected the weather to get worse overnight.
Clare farmer Paidi Ryan, from Springfield, said that he was packing up to leave. “We evacuated most of the cows on Tuesday but held on to the milking cows because I have nowhere else to milk them,” he added. “We are getting the rest of them out now.”
Mr Ryan said that his farm was more than one mile away from the River Shannon but was still overflowing with water.
Environment Minister Alan Kelly yesterday said the floods were the worst that
After the deluge, snow to bring even more miseryhave ever been seen. He added that the Government would “escalate” all efforts to protect as many homes as possible as the country braced itself for more rain in the coming days.
The minister said he would bring a memo to Cabinet next week which would seek to address the infrastructure issues causing devastating flooding in many communities along the River Shannon.
Last night, homes in Clonlara in south-east Clare near the Limerick border were under water for the first time after the Blackwater River breached its banks.
Shortly after 1pm a fierce swell came over the bank, which had been raised by the Office of Public Works to prevent flooding. In seconds, the river swept through the back of several homes, taking residents by surprise.
Local farmers used diggers to make channels and drains in the hope of protecting more homes further downstream.
Caroline Micks, whose home once stood in the way of the river, and is now in the middle of it, said it was “complete mayhem”.
“The bank behind the house here burst and the water was coming into the fields behind us, filling them up,” she added.
Standing in her wellies in several feet of water, she said: “Then it swept through the fields and came back into the house, into the garden and down into the back of the garage. Within a few minutes the gardens were full and it was up to the house.”
Fears were also growing last night that some areas downstream from the Parteen Weir in Co Clare could also be flooded after Tom Browne, of the ESB, announced it was forced to increase its discharge rate from 374 cubic metres per second to 405 cubic metres per second to cope with the sheer deluge of rain flowing into the river.
He warned, “we anticipate we’ll have to increase that further” before the rainfall is expected to peak tomorrow.
Approximately 14 houses at Richmond Park, Corbally, were flooded last night as a result of the Park Canal overtopping its banks.
The flooding in Corbally occurred due to record flooding yesterday on the Mulcair river combined with flooding on the Blackwater river and increased discharge through Parteen Weir.
Council staff, assisted by members of the Defence Forces, Fire Service and Civil Defence, are continuing to implement flood defence measures along the river bank and coordinate with local property owners at Montpelier, Castleconnell and the Mountshannon Road (Lisnagry), and in a number of other locations including the Corbally area.
Sandbags are being distributed on a strategic basis as advised by the Council’s technical staff.
Limerick City and County Council has opened a dedicated emergency helpline for flooding support (+353 61 407100) in addition to the existing Out of Hours / Emergency phone number (+353 61 417833).
Meanwhile, the Council is advising members of the public, particularly children, to avoid all flooded areas and to abide by the instructions provided by the Emergency Services and Council staff.
Flooding advice is available on www.flooding.ie. Information included on the website includes advice on identifying flooding risks, protecting property against flooding, necessary steps to be taken if a property is flooded and accessing and repairing property damaged by flooding.
By midday yesterday, up to 50mm of rain had fallen since Friday in the southwest, with between 30 and 40mm falling in west Clare, Limerick, Tipperary and Connacht, and between 25 and 30mm in the midlands and Dublin region.
Significant amounts of rain will be worsened by plunging temperatures expected to move southward from the north. “We expect a nasty snow and ice situation into Sunday,” said Met Eireann forecaster Gerald Fleming. “We’ve had almost everything we could possibly have in terms of weather.”
After another rain-sodden night on Friday and plunging temperatures that left parts of counties Cavan and Monaghan blanketed in snow yesterday, more snow was expected by this morning as a cold front moved southwards.
“Snow will come down through the midlands, down through the west and there will be ice on the road,” he added.
Although the snow is expected to melt by later today, roads that were covered in ice last night could still pose a menace this morning in sheltered areas, especially if covered with rainwater.
“There won’t be big amounts (of snow). I think it will be a few centimetres at most and it won’t last any length because there is much milder air coming back in across the country, so it will sweep it all out of the way,” Mr Fleming told the Sunday Independent.
“I don’t think anyone will be fighting their way out of snowdrifts. But it’s when it freezes and it causes that problem on roads and footpaths.”
There is also no end in sight as we face into another “very wet week ahead”, he said, adding we can expect between 20 and 40mm of rain.
Garda spokesman Supt John Ferris warned that roads would be hazardous nationwide following last night’s big freeze and urged drivers not only to slow down to cope with ice but also to drive with caution on flood-stricken roads. “The key message for the public is to be aware that the ice is coming and to slow down” he said at a press briefing of the National Co-Ordination Group in Dublin yesterday.