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Flood nightmare to last for weeks

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A woman is rescued by Garda Hazel Meaney on the quay in New Ross, Co Wexford. Photo: Mary Browne

A woman is rescued by Garda Hazel Meaney on the quay in New Ross, Co Wexford. Photo: Mary Browne

A woman is rescued by Garda Hazel Meaney on the quay in New Ross, Co Wexford. Photo: Mary Browne

The country is facing at least another fortnight of flooding torment thanks to a massive 'storm factory' churning unsettled weather from the Atlantic, experts have warned.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan blamed climate change for the devastation in coastal areas this week, as he announced a nationwide €10m emergency humanitarian fund.

Limerick, Waterford and Cork were among the places badly hit by flooding overnight.

But Mr Noonan said he believed extra funding would be needed and pledged more money would ultimately be taken from the "national Budget".

The country has been hammered by a combination of heavy rain, strong winds and high tides with more misery to come.

Cold polar air pressing against warm tropical air hundreds of miles off the Irish coast is creating the perfect storm conditions.

BREWING

The weather system is set to last two weeks, and could last even longer. The next storm brewing at sea will land later today and last into tomorrow, bringing swells of up to 5m in height. Another storm is set to follow on Friday and Saturday.

"There's effectively a storm factory over the Atlantic, caused by cold polar air pressing up against warm, tropical air, causing weather systems to form," said Dr Andrew Barrett, a meteorologist at Reading University.

"These have then been steered across the Atlantic by a strong jet stream."

The wind direction when the storm lands will determine which region gets hit next, said Met Eireann's Gerry Murphy. "The south coast was worst affected in recent days because the prevailing winds are from the south," he added.

Peter O'Donnell from Irish Weather Online warned that many areas would be unable to take more heavy rainfall. "January was 70pc above normal for rainfall and about half-a-month's worth is likely to fall this week," he said.

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"This relentless heavy rainfall will be overtaxing the ability of smaller streams and urban drainage systems to cope.

"Eventually there will probably be some persistent flooding problems.

"These can be even worse near backed-up tidal estuaries of rivers near the coastlines," he added.

Residents coping with flooding in Limerick heckled government ministers as they visited the scene of the storm damage in the city.


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