Friday 9 December 2016

Weather warning extended as torrential rain due to hit country today

Paul Melia, Sarah Jane Murphy and John Brennan

Published 06/01/2016 | 06:51

ICMSA President John Comer visiting the farm of Donal Hynes of Ahane (right) at which he repeated his call for an end to petty inter-agency disputes and a single national waterways authority with power to dredge and clear waterways and rivers. Pic Sean Curtin Fusionshooters.
ICMSA President John Comer visiting the farm of Donal Hynes of Ahane (right) at which he repeated his call for an end to petty inter-agency disputes and a single national waterways authority with power to dredge and clear waterways and rivers. Pic Sean Curtin Fusionshooters.

MET Eireann has issued a national weather warning as parts of the east coast face the prospect of being flooded after warnings that a band of heavy rain will hit the country from early today.

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Met Eireann have issued a Status Yellow weather warning, with 15-25mm of rain expected to fall across the country during Wednesday afternoon and evening.

The yellow rainfall warning has been extended, and is now in place until 9am tomorrow morning, January 7.

Gerry Murphy from Met Eireann said that the Status Yellow rainfall warning has been extended until Thursday morning.

"The band of rain will be very slow to clear as it moves towards the north-east of the country.

"While 15-25 mm of rain isn't a huge amount in normal circumstances, given the current flooding situation we feel people need to be prepared for the heavy rain.

Members of the public struggle with the weather on O'Connell street in Dublin. Picture: Arthur Carron. File picture
Members of the public struggle with the weather on O'Connell street in Dublin. Picture: Arthur Carron. File picture

"Following the rain all areas will experience prolonged cold conditions," he said.

Counties Cavan, Meath, Louth and Monaghan will be more at risk of flash flooding.

School bus services are being diverted and cancelled in some areas as most children return to the classrooms after the Christmas break.

Bus Eireann have said that school routes will be affected in parts of Galway, Roscommon, Monaghan and Offaly.

READ MORE:  School bus services subject to disruption following flooding

Civil defence volunteers in Roscommon and Longford will be assisting the transport of some children to schools by boat and track vehicles.

The weather warning came as the National Emergency Coordination Group said homeowners living along the River Shannon will have to continue pumping water from their properties for the next three weeks, and for even longer if heavy rains return.

A band of persistent rain is expected to spread eastwards from today, with the heaviest falls in mountainous regions.

Gerald Fleming, meteorologist with Met Eireann has warned of potential flash flooding in parts of the country as bands of rain are set to make their way across the country later today.

“In normal times we probably wouldn’t have issued a warning for it – [it doesn’t] meet the criteria for a rainfall warning, but because the grounds are so wet and the rivers are so high we’ve put out a weather advisory indicating that we expect something between 15 and 20 mm,” he said.

Parts of the north and north-east are at risk from flash flooding today.

“This system is coming from the south-west, it could stall and delay its clearance over parts of the north east.

“[This] will certainly affect parts of Monaghan, Cavan and Louth – and those conditions can give some flash flooding where the rivers and the streams rise fairly quickly, but they fall fairly quickly too,” said Mr Fleming.

This wet spell is set to last until late this evening – a spell of cold and dry weather is set to follow.

Over the next four or five days high pressure will build in the west, pushing in north or north-westerly winds – bringing in the cold weather.

“It’ll be a drier period, so that part of it is good news it’ll be a colder period so that’ll bring it’s own risks.

“There will be frost at night and with the roads wet I think there will be a danger on the roads at night time,” he added.

The colder weather set to arrive in the coming days will be a welcome respite from the wet weather which has dogged the country over the last month.

Mr Fleming said, “For those still struggling with floods and many of the rivers still high particularly the Shannon which will take a long time to fall if they’re up through the night it’s something that they don’t need – those low temperatures – on the other hand, it will be dry.”

Deirdre Lowe of Met Eireann told Independent.ie that very heavy rain will hit the south west of the country in the late morning or early afternoon.

"The band of rain will move slowly across the country and may stall in the east or north east of the country for a time.

"Flooding could take place anywhere around the country.

"However the rain will clear first thing in the morning.

"On-shore winds on the south coast, in east Ulster and north east Leinster will be strong.

"The outlook remains very cold for the coming days," she said.

The warning remains in place until 11pm tonight, Wednesday January 6.

The rain is likely to be heavy for a time and could lead to some further flooding in some areas but will turn more showery in the west later.

Windy also with southeast winds increasing strong and gusty with the rain.

Meanwhile the Road Safety Authority has issued an alert for black ice – as sub-zero temperatures are being forecast for the next few nights.

They say that temperatures may drop below zero tonight, "resulting in icy surfaces and black ice.

"With roads conditions still hazardous due to the recent flooding, motorists are being advised to slow down and take extra care as the conditions will pose an added danger," they said.

Afternoon temperatures ranging from just about 5 or 6 degrees Celsius in northern areas to 9 or 10 degrees Celsius near the south coast.

The rain will continue for a time in the Northeast tonight falling as sleet in places with local flooding.

Counties under threat include Louth, Meath, Monaghan and Cavan, and falling temperatures are expected as weather returns to more normal patterns, presenting an increased risk on the roads.

The Office of Public Works (OPW) said a “severe flood situation” remains on the middle to lower-Shannon.

“Maintenance, pumping and temporary defences will have to continue for some time,” said the agency’s Jim Casey. It is understood this could continue for the next three weeks.

The upper Shannon continues to rise, up 2cm, but it is well below the peaks of recent weeks. In Carrick on Shannon it is peaking, but it is rising in Athlone (up 2cm) and on Lough Ree (up 3cm). Levels in Athlone and Lough Ree remain above the 2009 peaks.

At Banagher, levels are up 3cm, but they have fallen in Limerick, down 2cm. Levels are also increasing on the Suck (up 4cm) and Erne, which remains at a very high level. Levels are falling across the Moy, Clare, Shore, Nore, Barrow, Slaney, Boyne, Fergus and Barrow.

The ESB hoped to reduce the flow from the Inniscarra dam in Cork to 75 cubic metres per second by late last night, down from 150 cubic metres.

The flow has slightly increased from Poulaphouca to 45 cubic metres per second as the reservoir is “quite full” and the ESB said it wanted levels to fall before rain arrived. This has caused some localised flooding in parts of Kildare.

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