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Flights forced to divert as high winds hit country

FLIGHTS were forced to divert to alternative airports and fallen trees and light poles blocked roads across several counties as the country was battered by gale-force winds.

Emergency services and local authority workers were inundated with calls to deal with blocked roads as trees toppled in gusts that reached speeds of up to 130kmh.

Met Eireann issued an orange alert – the second most serious weather warning – for Munster and Leinster last night while all other areas are on a yellow alert, which advises people to be prepared for high winds.

Parts of Kildare, Carlow and Offaly were badly hit, with emergency services dealing with more calls than they could handle as fallen trees blocked roads.

AA Roadwatch also reported fallen trees on roads in Cork, Waterford and Wicklow.

"We are in for a rough night," said one emergency services officer, who reported 50 calls for help within a two-hour period.

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) warned drivers to be beware of trees, branches and other debris being blown on to the road.

Air travel was also disrupted, with several flights to Dublin and Cork diverting to Shannon, Belfast, and Glasgow.

One Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt actually turned around without entering the "hold" at Dublin and diverted to Manchester.

A cold front crossing the country from the west earlier yesterday fed a low-pressure system bringing very strong southerly winds with gusts of between 90 and 100kmh for the Leinster and Munster area.

The east coast and southern counties were also expected to be buffeted by 130kmh winds.

Met Eireann meteorologist Siobhan Ryan said another band of rain was expected overnight with intense downpours in some areas as the wind switches to a south-westerly direction.

Irish Independent