Storm Lorenzo: Farmers urged to check on stock now as Status Orange wind warning issued for six counties

  • Warnings in place from 9am Thursday
  • Hurricane will become a tropical storm by tomorrow
  • Airport warn customers to check for disruptions
  • Crisis management teams 'ready to go'
600-mile wide Hurricane Lorenzo's tropical storm-force winds gust risks are shown.
600-mile wide Hurricane Lorenzo's tropical storm-force winds gust risks are shown.
01/10/19 High seas and winds pictured on Howth pier. Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin
Wave power: high waves hammer Skerries, Co Dublin. Photo: Kyran O'Brien

Rachel Farrell, Ralph Riegel and Caroline O'Doherty

Farmers should check their stock now and ensure they are safe as a STATUS Orange wind warning has been issued for six counties on the west coast as Hurricane Lorenzo makes it ways to Ireland.

Water Safety Ireland has urged farmers to move stock in flood risk areas to higher ground so that they are not left in flooded areas where they too can drown.

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The Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed urged farmers, fishermen and people in rural areas to be extra vigilant and take precautions as Storm Lorenzo approaches the country.

"The exact impact of the storm is yet to be determined but it is important that sensible steps are taken in advance rather than when it arrives.

"I urge farmers, fishermen and all people in rural areas to ensure that they are ready for the approaching storm and ask them to follow closely the advice of the authorities particularly for those in the worst affected counties.

"Priority is obviously the safety of people and I would reiterate the advice that care should be taken. For farmers, they should ensure that their yards are safe by securing loose objects. Wait until the storm abates to check on livestock, wear a high vis jacket, bring a mobile phone and make sure someone knows where you are going."

The Minister also reminded landowners of the dangers of fallen trees, in particular the impact this can have on electric wires. The assessment of damage in such circumstances should only be carried out by appropriately trained professionals from the ESB. Where ESB cables are not impacted, great care should be taken in removing such trees and especially in the use of chainsaws.

The warning is in place for counties Galway, Mayo, Clare, Cork, Kerry and Limerick from 6pm on Thursday until 3am on Friday.

Winds will reach mean speeds of 65 to 80km/h with gusts generally of 100 to 130km/h, Met Éireann said.

A Status Yellow wind warning is in place for the rest of Ireland from 9am on Thursday until 6am on Friday, with the national forecaster warning that the 100km/h gusts will have "some disruptive impacts".

Hurricane Lorenzo's latest predicted path across Ireland. Photo: Met Éireann
Hurricane Lorenzo's latest predicted path across Ireland. Photo: Met Éireann

There is also a Status Yellow rainfall warning in place nationwide from 9am Thursday until 9am Friday, with up to 50mm of rainfall expected in the west and northwest.

The UK Met Office has issued a Yellow wind warning for parts of Northern Ireland, including Derry and Newry, from 3pm until 10pm on Thursday.

The national forecaster has warned that Lorenzo will bring heavy rain, surface flooding and a dangerous storm surge due to a combination of very low pressure, high tides and onshore storm-force winds.

The storm is currently bringing hurricane force winds to the Azores, with gusts of up to 140 km/h recorded.

Met Éireann have said that the effects of the weather event will begin to be felt across Ireland from midday Thursday, peaking late Thursday evening and Thursday night, easing Friday morning.

It is expected to accelerate north-eastwards across the mid-Atlantic during Wednesday, engaging with the polar jet-stream on Wednesday night approximately 1000 kilometres southwest of Ireland.

Closing in: Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy and Met Éireann’s Evelyn Cusack track Hurricane Lorenzo’s progress. Photo: Gareth Chaney
Closing in: Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy and Met Éireann’s Evelyn Cusack track Hurricane Lorenzo’s progress. Photo: Gareth Chaney

"Storm Lorenzo will continue to accelerate north-eastwards, with its centre approaching the west of Ireland during Thursday," a Met Éireann spokesperson said. "Lorenzo will then likely make a right turn, tracking across Ireland on Thursday night whilst it begins to gradually weaken."

Paddy Mahon, local government representative with the NECG said that authorities across the country have been preparing response plans since the start of the week.

"Since Monday when it became a possibility, councils would have been examining the weather profile, examining the potential for this to move from possible to probable," Mr Mahon told RTÉ Morning Ireland.

"Each local authority will have a severe weather assessment team so those, particularly across the western seaboard, would have been convening since Monday and in other parts of the country as well. I'm convinced that all local authorities will be convening their teams today, just to assess how this might impact on their particular region."

Mr Mahon said that fallen trees are a concern for many local authorities, which may "exacerbate flooding potential".

"We're at the time of the year where the trees are still in leaf, and a tree down as a result of a storm or hurricane, at this time of the year can have a lot more of an impact on flooding than it might do during the winter when we traditionally experience storms," he said.

"This is a very fast moving weather event, it's moving at an incredible pace towards Ireland. Between ourselves, local authorities and land owners, we all have an obligation to manage and mind the trees and deal with dangerous trees.

"That's not to say every tree will be safe against the storm that's coming. It's inevitable that trees will fall, they'll have an impact on power lines, possibly block roads, and they could contribute to drainage issues and cause unintended flooding as a result of that."

Meanwhile, the public have been urged to stay away from exposed coastal areas as the storm hits amid warnings that massive storm surges, freak waves and high winds could claim lives.

Waves crash on a wall along the coast near Angra do Heroismo, before the arrival of Hurricane Lorenzo in Azores, Portugal. Picture: REUTERS/Rafael Marchante
Waves crash on a wall along the coast near Angra do Heroismo, before the arrival of Hurricane Lorenzo in Azores, Portugal. Picture: REUTERS/Rafael Marchante

Irish Water Safety and the Coast Guard urged people to avoid exposed coastal areas as well as piers, jettys and promenades at the height of the storm as the failure to do so could risk their lives or the lives of the emergency services.

Greatest concern is focused on so-called 'storm hunters' who risk their lives to take dramatic photographs by the coast.

Gardaí warned that such behaviour at the height of storms in 2017 and 2018 put the lives of emergency personnel at risk.

The warning came as Ireland's fishing fleet began to flee to the safety of ports as Lorenzo approached.

Cork Airport warned travellers this morning to check flight updates with their airline today and tomorrow.

"Winds may gust 35-45knots which could lead to flight disruptions," a spokesperson said.

A map shows where the effects of Hurricane Lorenzo will reach. Photo: Alistair Grant Freelance / National Hurricane Center
A map shows where the effects of Hurricane Lorenzo will reach. Photo: Alistair Grant Freelance / National Hurricane Center

Greatest risk of damage is posed to infrastructure and utility networks.

The ESB and Irish Water will have repair crews on standby - but crews cannot begin any repair works until the weather eases and it is deemed safe to do so.

Councils have convened emergency planning teams to prepare for possible storm-related damage.

The six councils in the Status Orange area all have special teams organised to help with the removal of fallen trees and debris from roads.

Householders have been stocking up on batteries, flash-lights and candles in areas where disruption to electricity supplies is a risk.

Western and northern counties are expected to be worst affected as Lorenzo pushes waves characterised as "high" or "phenomenal" across the Atlantic.

By the time they reach our shores, Mr Murphy warned they would produce "very significant wave surges".

"They could be quite ferocious, very dangerous," he said.

The storm threat prompted a stark warning from Inner City Helping Homeless chief executive Anthony Flynn, who demanded the triggering of emergency weather protocols in cities.

"On average 170 people per night are sleeping rough because they simply cannot access a bed. Extended 24-hour services should be put into operation until this storm passes," he said.

The Dublin Regional Homeless Executive said it had contingency plans for the storm and would put in place temporary shelter arrangements.

"We are confident there will be sufficient additional emergency spaces to cater for those who require it," it said.

Lorenzo has moved farther north and east across the Atlantic than any other category-five hurricane, producing wind speeds of 260kmh, but it is expected to weaken to a tropical storm when it is within 1,000km of the coast.

Last night, the storm lashed the mid-Atlantic Azores Islands with heavy rain, powerful winds and high waves, though initial reports said it caused only minor damage.

The Azores Civil Protection Agency said the category two hurricane felled trees and power lines as it passed just west of the Portuguese island chain.

Hurricanes the size of Lorenzo are rare so far north and east in the Atlantic basin.

Azores Civil Protection Agency chief Carlos Neves says two homes were safely evacuated and no injuries were reported.

Around 250,000 people live on the nine volcanic islands.

The Portuguese weather agency reported gusts of up to 90mph, lower than forecast as Lorenzo lost power over cooler water.

Authorities in the archipelago placed seven islands on red alert as Lorenzo approached.

School classes were cancelled and government offices were closed as people were told to remain indoors Wednesday.

Azores airline Sata cancelled all flights to the archipelago, and some islands closed their ports.

Irish Independent