120kmh winds disrupt power and send chimneys crashing
WINDS of up to 120kmh battered much of the country yesterday knocking chimneys to the ground, disrupting electricity, diverting planes and causing havoc for motorists and pedestrians alike.
A day after Dublin mother-of-three Lynda Collins was killed after a tree felled by gusts of 100kmh pinned her to a road in Dublin, several people had near-misses from falling trees, flying debris and rocking airplanes yesterday.
Met Eireann said strong winds with gusts of between 90-110kmh swept across the country yesterday with Malin Head and parts of the northwest recording gusts of 120kph.
A passenger on an Aer Lingus flight from London said she almost fell off an air bridge as she was disembarking from a flight from Gatwick at Dublin Airport at around 1.30pm yesterday when a gust of wind caused the plane to move away from the bridge.
Aer Lingus said none of the 150 passengers were injured by the incident, which it attributed to "a freak gust of wind".
Hours earlier, pedestrians walking along Roden Place in Dundalk had a near miss when a large chunk of chimney was blown three storeys on to the busy street below at around 9.30 am. Hundreds of secondary students had passed by the same spot less than a hour before on their way to school.
A live power line was also knocked down by the falling debris, but fortunately there were no injuries.
Gale-force winds were also responsible for flooding a car park beside Toft Park in Salthill, Co Galway, yesterday.
Winds of up to 100kmh in Galway city also forced the closure of Dr Colohan Road along the promenade due to flooding.
A lorry driver had a narrow escape yesterday when a sudden gust blew him off the road and into a wall in Galway between Claregalway and Carnmore. Miraculously he wasn't injured.
A girls' hockey team also had a lucky escape when they narrowly missed being struck by a fallen tree that had blown on to a pitch during a training session in Galway. Minutes later, a floodlight came crashing down on to the pitch.
In Galway, the high winds lead to the apparent decapitation and dismemberment of various election candidates whose posters became airborne after being unhinged by strong winds.
The strong winds also caused headaches for thousands of air and sea passengers yesterday.
Irish Ferries cancelled all of its crossings to Holyhead yesterday and is expected to do so today if conditions don't improve. Intending passengers are advised to check the company's website or information line.
Stena Line ferries also cancelled last night's crossing from Rosslare to Fishguard but is expecting to resume its normal service today. Passengers are also advised to check with the company before departing.
Adverse wind conditions also led Aer Arann to cancel its flights out of Dublin Airport yesterday. Dublin Airport Authority spokeswoman Siobhan Moore said there were no cancellations although some flights were delayed. However, numerous flights to Cork Airport were diverted to Shannon Airport due to gusts of up to 85kmh.
An Aer Lingus flight from London Heathrow and a Ryanair service from Gatwick were unable to land as well as a Jet2.com flight from Newcastle.
Strong winds also left about 200 ESB customers without power last night. Crews were expected to work overnight to restore electricity to householders in small pockets of Co Galway and the Midlands by this morning.
Debris falling on power lines also led to the temporary loss of power to about 1,500 customers throughout the country yesterday. However, an ESB spokesman said most power was restored within two hours.
Meanwhile, Met Eireann forecaster Pat Clarke said we could expect more wet and windy conditions over the weekend, although the extremely strong winds were expected to die out by this morning.