Monday 21 October 2019

Communities face more flood misery as heavy rain hits the country again

Southeast gusts of 80-95 km/h expected
Southeast gusts of 80-95 km/h expected
Diana Johnsky makes her way to work through the River Shannon floods in Athlone, Co Westmeath. Photo: Hany Marzouk
'Questions such as why the Shannon is not regularly dredged, or why so many different players are involved, need to be addressed'

Greg Harkin

Communities living along the Shannon were on high alert for more floods last night, but a new storm will just miss most of the country tomorrow, forecasters say.

Met Éireann downgraded its forecast for the expected storm tomorrow, believing it will stay mostly in the Atlantic and head for Iceland instead of Ireland.

"It is a rapidly developing low-pressure system," said Met Éireann forecaster Harm Luijkx.

"We believe the centre of the storm will stay in the Atlantic but the outer edges will clip the North West so it will be still be a very windy day but we have now amended our forecast and reduced warnings as a result."

However, heavy rain coupled with an increase in water being pumped from the Parteen Weir by the ESB will cause new flooding problems for communities in Clare and Limerick.

The company said home and business owners downstream in areas such as Springfield, Montpelier, Castleconnell, Mountshannon and Annacotty and the University of Limerick should be aware of new flood risks.

The ESB said it has increased the flow from the weir to 405 cubic metres per second - up from 335 over the past two days.

A further similar increase today will take the outflow to the same level experienced after Storm Desmond, 440 cubic metres per second.

"Other areas between Parteen Weir and Limerick may also be vulnerable to flooding due to local issues," said the spokesman.

Heavy rain today, tomorrow and Wednesday could add to the risks, say forecasters.

Clare and Limerick county councils said the area could be hit by between 30mm and 60mm of rain over the next 72 hours.

Mr Luijkx said there could be heavier rainfall over mountains with "further flooding inevitable".

Meanwhile, AA Roadwatch has warned motorists to drive with extra care today.

"Watch out for wind-blown debris which is likely to be a problem on secondary roads in particular," is the warning.

Limerick County Council issued a weather alert last night because of the combined threat from the Parteen Weir and further rainfall.

The local authority said water levels along the lower River Shannon at Castleconnell, Montpelier, Mountshannon Road (Lisnagry) and in the Limerick city area have risen approximately 100mm (four inches) during the past 48 hours.

However, the water levels are 275mm lower than they were at their peak on Sunday, December 13.

Vincent Murray, the council's senior engineer, said standard response procedures were in place in the event of localised flooding. He said: "Council staff are continuing pumping operations at Castleconnell and Montpelier.

"The council remains on alert to ensure that the necessary responses can be immediately activated in the event of flooding during the coming days, as approximately two inches of rainfall is forecast between Monday and Wednesday.

"In the meantime, we are advising members of the public to exercise caution in the vicinity of waterways during the Christmas period due to forecasts of heavy rain and higher than average tides."

In Castleconnell, the river burst its banks but by late yesterday, flooding was limited to mainly fields and forestry.

Leitrim County Council also warned home owners of the possibility of new flooding, while in Athlone river levels were also being monitored.

The latest Yellow Status weather warning for the country was issued last night for western counties including Donegal, Galway, Mayo, Clare, Cork and Kerry. Met Éireann said winds gusting up to 95kmh can be expected up until 1pm today.

A band of heavy rain will spread from the west this morning, clearing eastern counties by late evening before further heavy rain on Tuesday evening.

The worst-hit areas tomorrow and Wednesday will be Cork and Kerry, where another 100mm of rain could fall.

Irish Independent

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