Saturday 27 December 2014

Trail of destruction sweeps country

Ferocity of worst storm in 25 year takes many counties by surprise as 260,000 homes left without power

Published 13/02/2014 | 01:07

Part of a wall collapses on a parked car in Limerick. (Photo: Twitter/Cillian Flynn)
A woman in Dublin's city centre struggles with her umbrella as storms sweep across the country.
Pedestrians in Dublin's city centre struggle with their umbrellas as storms sweep across the country.
A large tree in blown down by the severe conditions in Wexford. Twitter credit: @DunbrodyHouse
Strong storms have caused extensive damage in Limerick City. Fire services and An Garda Siochana at the scene on Sarsfield Street, Limerick where high winds blew bricks away from the top of a building spreading debris out onto the road. Picture: Alan Place
A tree blocking a road in the west of the country
Strong storms have caused extensive damage in Limerick City. Fire services and An Garda Siochana at the scene on Sarsfield Street, Limerick where high winds blew bricks away from the top of a building spreading debris out onto the road. Picture: Alan Place
Falling trees brought down lines in the path of the Tornado in Athleague, Co Roscommon today. Photo: David Walsh
A tree landed on a car at Allen Square in Bandon, co Cork. Picture Denis Boyle
A van is crushed by a tree on the outskirts of Limerick city the Knocklisaheen Road on way to Meelick. Credit: Andrew Carey
A building in Limerick suffers serious damage during the storm. Twitter credit: AlanEnglish9
The roof is blown off the new dressing rooms at Cork Constitution Rugby Club. Twitter credit: @lensdan
A tree is uprooted in Limerick (Photo: Helen Enright)
Truck blown over in Kerry. (Photo via Twitter/ Deric Hartigan)
Tree blocks road on Carey's Road in Limerick City. (Photo: Paul Mullins)
Bracker O'Regan Road in Tralee. Photo: Twitter/@radiokerry
A woman shelters from the snow near Mount Street in Dublin. Picture: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin.
A lone walker battles against the elements in Lavey, Co. Cavan on Tuesday afternoon. Photo: Lorraine Teevan
A mother and child crossing the Square in Tuam after the town was hit by heavy snowfall. Photo: Andy Newman
The latest rainfall chart from Met Eireann
The Kenmare/Castletown Berehaven Road. Photo: Twitter/ @DavidMorrissey5
Articulated lorry overturned in storm force gales gusting at 160km/hr outside Camp on the main Tralee to Dingle road
City Council Depot in Moyross,Limerick wall crashes in storm. (Teresa Blake via Councillor Maurice Quinlivan on Twitter)
Trees fall over as storm lashes Limerick City. (Photo: Paul Mullins)
An Aer Lingus Regional commuter plane rests on it's left wingtip after being lifted off the ground in 150kmh winds at Shannon Airport. Pic: Press 22
Damage at Hainault Road, Foxrock, Dublin. Collins Photo: Michael Donnelly.
Damage at Hainault Road, Foxrock, Dublin. Collins Photo: Michael Donnelly.

A vicious storm wreaked havoc when it ripped through much of the country with unexpected ferocity and little warning.

Hurricane-strength gales tore roofs from buildings;  forced schools and workplaces into lockdown; toppled hundreds of trees and cut electricity to more than 260,000 homes.

While a storm had been forecast for southern counties yesterday, the extent of the  gales took other regions by  surprise.

‘Darwin’, as the storm had been named, made landfall in Clare, Limerick, Kerry and Cork soon after 6am but then spiralled north towards Kilkenny, Waterford and Wexford, carving a trail of destruction.

Officials in Cork and Kerry described the storm and its aftermath as “the worst in 25 years”.

The midlands and western counties were also hit by  strong winds, with the storm blowing across the greater Dublin region during the  afternoon rush-hour.

Gusts of up to 160kph were recorded as the gales raged through much of the day.

Local authorities scrambled to react, and a major emergency was declared in Kilkenny  after more than two dozen weather-related incidents.

Across the country, violent winds brought down power lines; ripped apart homes; and forced the temporary  closure of Shannon and Cork airports.

The storm overturned trucks and closed the M8 Dublin-Cork motorway; left the rail network paralysed; and resulted in more than a dozen cars being crushed by fallen trees.

Snow in Sligo Photo: Val Robus
Daniel Dunne took this photo of rare snowfall in Durrow, Co. Laois.
Snow in Waterford. Credit: Leah Burgess
Jackie Tully was behind the lens in Strokestown, Co Roscommon.
DJ Orla Barry tweeted this picture from Dublin Airport
Aoife Flanagan took this in Donegal.
Snow in Kells
Drumshanbo. Photo: Maura Farrell
Snow in Kells
Snow in Kells
Snow in Kells, Meath. Credit: Fiona Galvin
Snow in Kells, Meath. Credit: Fiona Galvin
Snow in Kells, Meath. Credit: Fiona Galvin
Thomond Park taken from Limerick Institute of Technology
Tuam, Co. Galway
Blanchardstown. Photo: Edit Halapi-Varga
Snowfall in Dundalk Co.Louth. Photo: H Myers
Laura Burke took this photo of her son Killian in Poulnagun, Lisdoonvarna, Co Clare.
Rachael Tobin from Limerick took a picture of her front garden.
Lisa Marie McCarroll from Rathfarnham sent us this #SnowSelfie. Sent in via contact@independent.ie
Deirdre Quinn sent in this solidarity pic from Ontario, Canada. Submitted via contact@independent.ie
Ontario, Canada. Photo: Deirdre Quinn.
Dundalk. Sent in by Helen Liz via contact@independent.ie
Jackie Tully submitted this pic via contact@independent.ie
Suzanne Conlon sent this picture of Drumconrath to contact@independent.ie
Submitted by Danielle Phillips to contact@independent.ie
Photo submitted by Aoife Flanagan to contact@independent.ie
Photo by Alan Finan, submitted via contact@independent.ie

Today, homeowners and business owners are picking up the pieces, with structural damage on a scale not seen since the Christmas storm of 1998.

Met Eireann is now tracking another storm front which could hit Ireland from tomorrow, bringing the threat of  further misery and hampering the nationwide repair efforts.

Fallen tree in Coolock last night
Colette Brennan at her car with fireman John Ging
Crash on Croom bypass Limerick yesterday Credit: Gerald Breen
Clockwise from main: three generations of one family had a miraculous escape when this tree crushed their car in Portlaoise; a child is helped to her mum’s car by a teacher in Tralee; a roof is blown off a hotel in Tralee, Co Kerry; a wall fell on top of this BMW in Limerick
An upset child is helped to her mum's car by a teacher at Listellick NS in Tralee where the roof was blown off by violent winds on Wednesday morning. Photo: Domnick Walsh / Eye Focus
The damaged roof and surrounding area at Killarney Nursing Home following high winds and storm damage on Wednesday. Picture: Eamonn Keogh
An overturned lorry at Gleann na nGealt in Kerry yesterday.
Sonia O’Sullivan braved the weather along with Josephine Moynihan, Mary Geary, Charles Geary and Irenee O'Rourke in the Flora pro.activ 5K Fun Walk in Cobh, Co Cork
Paula Cotter at her home in Midleton, Co Cork, where the storm blew tiles off her roof onto her car. Photo: PROVISION
The roof of Tralee’s Brandon Hotel landed more than 100 yards from the hotel on to a vehicle in the car park. Photo: Domnick Walsh / Eye Focus

The severity of Storm Darwin appeared to catch everyone unawares, with forecasters forced to issue severe weather warnings at the same time as the gales roared through the country.

A Met Eireann spokesman said: “In terms of destruction it's probably the worst we've seen in a while.

“Today our highest winds were around 86 knots (160kph), so we're just under record territory for the south and west.

“This is the end of a month of storms so structures can already be loosened. The storm over Christmas 1998 might be the last time we've had anything quite as widespread, or caused as much damage.”

The forecaster, which had previously indicated that much of the country would escape the brunt of the storm, insisted red alerts had been issued from late on Tuesday night.

It said that other yellow and orange warnings were subsequently upgraded as the unprecedented power of the storm intensified further.

“There were lower-grade warnings for the rest of the country, which  were updated throughout the morning,” a spokesperson told the Irish Independent.

The warnings had been first implemented in the south, where winds had exceeded the 130kph red warning level, then further red warnings followed in Dublin and elsewhere.

Despite the frightening power of the storm, incredibly there were few injuries reported, but a series of near misses indicated its destructive capability.

Hospitals in Limerick and Cork were dealing with at least 30 cases of weather-related injuries.

In Laois, a mother, grandmother and three young children escaped death when a large tree fell on their car as they made their way home.

Collette Brennan (36) had only picked up her mother Mary (78) and also had baby Ollie, Eoin (8) and Ella (12) in the car when it was almost flattened in Portlaoise.

"The tree actually flung them over into the gateway of a house and broke live lines and that came down on top of them," Collette's husband Oliver said. He said his children had got a "terrible shock".

In Limerick, student Jill Holmes had a miraculous escape when winds ripped through her fourth-storey, top-floor apartment, blasting off a patio door and a chunk of her kitchen.

"I was just standing in the kitchen when I saw the door was coming ajar and it was coming off its hinges," she said.

"I just stepped away and it flew (out) on to the street. I tried to move everything away from the door. I hope that no-one got hurt there on the street."

A mini-tornado struck Roscommon General Hospital with one car being crushed by a fallen tree.

An evacuation of an entire floor at Ennis General Hospital in Clare was prompted after the staff and patients complained of hearing loud noises from the roof.

In Shannon, 150kph winds lifted an unoccupied commuter plane off the tarmac before it smashed to the ground, collapsing its undercarriage and leaving the aircraft resting on its left wing tip.

In Wexford, the roof of a €7m new swimming pool complex in New Ross was damaged.

In Galway, the Westside library had to be evacuated after several windows blew in.

As the storm moved up the country, the midlands and Dublin were hammered too.

A van driver cheated death when a large tree fell on top of his vehicle in Coolock.

Several residents in an apartment complex in Ashtown were evacuated after the gale-force winds “practically ripped the roof off”.

A car park in Dublin Airport sustained damage causing minor diversions at the site. Annavil Road in the south of the county was also closed due to falling slates.

The strong winds and gusts caused trees and overhead lines to fall, blocking several of the roads in some of the city's busiest residential areas.

Gardai reported road closures in the Clonsilla, Rathgar and Baldonnell areas. Dublin Bus services were disrupted on some routes.

Irish Rail also faced major disruption, and DART services between Dalkey and Bray were suspended due to damage sustained to overhead power lines.

All trains to Cork, Kerry and Limerick from Heuston Station were suspended, as were trains from Limerick and Athenry, while fallen trees and debris on the line caused delays nationwide.

Met Eireann says the strong winds are likely to continue for the coming days, but will be more likely ‘blustery' than stormy, with rain also due.

Please send your weather images to contact@independent.ie

 

Sam Griffin  and Ralph Riegel

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