HIGH winds left thousands of homes without electricity, caused widespread damage and sparked traffic chaos in the capital today.
An estimated 12,000 homes, mainly in counties Galway, Kerry and Cork, lost power because of the weather.
In Dublin, the Eastlink Bridge was closed for around 90 minutes during the morning rush-hour when the roof of a nearby hut was blown off.
A mile-long tailback was reported at the Port Tunnel, while buses and cars at one stage taking 45 minutes to travel the 4.5km.
Gardai feared that a second piece, which was blowing in the wind, could have landed on the road or nearby train tracks.
While high winds battered Dublin city, Donegal and the north west were hardest hit, with winds gusting at 120kmh.
Thousands of homes in the west and midlands were left without electricity while the added threat of icy roads added to the winter misery.
Eircom said the stormy conditions had taken a toll on services, with some 4,500 reports of network faults yesterday.
Met Eireann said winds of up to gale force 9 would hit the north west today, but would gradually die out for the rest of the country.
Households in many parts of Galway still had power outages today with many homes in Kerry, Cork, Waterford, Kilkenney, Wexford, Meath and Kildare without power.
ESB Networks crews were today working to restore electricity supply to around 2,000 customers who were still without power this morning.
Westerly winds will blow up to gale force strength in many places throughout the day for motorists and other road users, although the weekend will be largely dry Met Eireann said that while there will be blustery conditions next week, there is no sign of “severe” episodes of high winds like those Ireland experienced this week.
In Co Clare, the Cliffs of Moher visitors’ centre was closed to tourists due to conditions that saw cars damaged by airborne debris and pedestrians swept off their feet.
A vehicle evacuating staff members from the centre was lifted off the ground, according to management, in what were the worst conditions seen there for almost a decade.
Tomorrow will be cool and bright with sunny spells and occasional showers while Friday night will be clearer, cold and very frosty, weather experts said.
The frosty conditions will continue into Saturday morning and clear only slowly.
Westerly winds will be blustery on Sunday, but not as strong as earlier in the week, Met Eireann said.
“Present indications are that the first half of next week will bring quite cold and showery weather in blustery northwest winds,” it said.