Warning for drivers as heavy rain leads to crashes
Motorists and householders were put on flood alert last night, as above average rainfall led to numerous crashes.
Rainfall up to two-and-a-half times the average is set to fall over the next two days, adding to the problem.
The Automobile Association (AA) had its busiest day for car breakdowns since last January's icy weather, with more than 300 callouts during the morning rush.
It warned drivers to take extra care on the roads as heavy rainfall caused poor road conditions and wet road surfaces in many areas.
Met Eireann is forecasting more rain with some heavy thundery downpours over the next few days.
A flood alert was issued for Greystones in Co Wicklow, after roads in counties Westmeath, Cavan, Laois, Monaghan, Mayo, Sligo, Leitrim, Roscommon and Cork were put at risk.
It followed very heavy overnight rainfall yesterday, when between 30mm to 50mm of rain fell, causing road delays and a spate of minor crashes.
Met Eireann issued a local flood warning, and predicted that rainfall amounts of between 30mm to 70mm were expected over the next two days.
This is between one-and-a half and two-and-a-half times the normal average for this time of the year.
Motorists were urged to drive with extra care as some roads were left flooded during the deluge and gardai had to respond to numerous crashes.
AA Roadwatch said drivers leaving the car park at the Electric Picnic in Stradbally, Co Laois, experienced long delays because of large amounts of surface water.
The motoring organisation reported flooding following heavy rainfall in parts of Westmeath and Laois, particularly secondary routes around Mountrath and Portlaoise.
It urged motorists in these areas to proceed with caution.
There were also reports of bad flooding on many secondary routes in the area around the N52 Mullingar/Ardee Rd. The road was closed between Clonmellon and Delvin following a crash.
Gardai had to deal with a multi-vehicle collision on the local road between Kill and Straffan at Alasty in Co Kildare, which caused delays in area.
In Co Cork, a crash partially blocked inbound traffic on the N27 South Link Rd close to the Anglesea Road junction. This led to delays tailing back to the Kinsale road.
In Co Offaly, the road between Kinnitty and Knockbarron Cross was closed, but was later re-opened.
In Galway city, drivers were advised to continue to look out for surface water on the Headford road at the Bodkin roundabout.
Met Eireann said further showers were expected today, some of them heavy and thundery in places.
AA director of policy Conor Faughnan said all areas had had some rain in the past 24 hours, with some extremely heavy localised showers.
"This has meant some very testing driving conditions and drivers must take extra care," he added.
The most important message was for drivers to slow down as braking distances increased dramatically in wet conditions.
Mr Faughnan said it was especially important for drivers not to tailgate and to leave a good distance between the vehicle in front.
This was particularly important on motorways.
"Motorways are generally very safe, but heavy rain makes them dangerous," the AA chief said. "Road-spray thrown up from the wheels reduces visibility, and we have had a lot of motorists reporting very difficult conditions on the motorways today."
According to the Road Safety Authority, it can take drivers more than 170 metres to bring a car to a complete stop when travelling at 120kmh, such as on motorways.
Mr Faughnan said: "Heavy showers can cause localised flooding very quickly and also reduce visibility. Take particular care to look out for cyclists and motorcyclists."
He added: "Not only are conditions more difficult for these vulnerable road users, water beading on the glass of a car makes it more difficult for the driver to see out.
The worst-affected area for breakdowns was Dublin, where wet conditions over the weekend resulted in cars involved in an increased number of minor collisions needing to be towed.
In Co Wicklow, the Glendasan River bursts its banks and flood waters poured into the Glendalough Hotel.
Hotel owner Pat Casey told how water streamed burst through the seals of full length windows in the 150-seater function room, which overlooks the river.
Meanwhile, Ciaran Lynch, Labour's local government spokesman, has criticised Environment Minister John Gormley for not accepting an invitation to meet the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Environment to discuss the aftermath of last year's extreme weather.
However, a spokesman for Mr Gormley rejected any question of a snub to the committee and said the Department of Defence was co-ordinating a full review of emergency responses to flooding.