Monday 19 March 2018

Munster feels force Storm Desmond as 70mm of rain falls across south-west

The latest rainfall radar
The latest rainfall radar

KERRY, Clare, Limerick and Cork suffered power cuts and flooding as Storm Desmond dumped as estimated 70mm of rainfall across the south-west.

Thousands of householders across Munster were left without power as winds which gusted overnight to more than 100kph brought down trees and power lines.

However, flooding remains the greatest risk from the fourth major Atlantic storm to hit Ireland this winter.

Both Kerry and Clare warned that 'Status Red' alerts, the highest level of weather warning, remain fully in place.

In Cork, the concern is that heavy rainfall on mountains in Kerry and north Cork will result in flooding across Lee, Blackwater and Funcheon river valleys over the next 36 hours.

Flood-prone towns including Fermoy and Mallow are now on high alert with new Office of Public Works (OPW) protection systems set to receive their first major test.

Cork city is hoping to avoid a repeat of damaging floods with experts predicting that while there may be localised flooding, high tides will not coincide with the predicted water surge on the River Lee.

Strong winds caused havoc for commuters for the second time in five days in Cork.

A number of flights from Cork Airport were either postponed or cancelled due to wind conditions.

Worst hit were regional flights to UK airports including Manchester and Birmingham.

Clare Co Council urged people to maintain their flood protection measures until Sunday evening.

Senior engineer Paul Moroney said flooding was inevitable given the level of predicted rainfall.

"All river systems throughout the county are very elevated following continued heavy rainfall in recent weeks. Streams and rivers in high ground or mountainous areas of Clare may burst their banks, leading to a heightened risk of flooding for adjoining lands, property and roads," he said.

"The heavy rainfall will be accompanied by sustained strong gale to storm force winds with gusts exceeding which will exceed 100kph resulting in dangerous driving conditions."

Mr Moroney said the weather threat was so severe the council was ready to trigger its crisis management team under the agreed Major Emergency Management protocol.

The public were again urged to avoid exposed coastal areas given the risk to safety posed by the storm.

Major sports events in Kerry and Cork were cancelled amid public safety fears.

The Glow Christmas Festival in Cork was cancelled on Saturday together with its Yuletide food market.

A marathon in Clonakilty was cancelled together with sports events in Tralee and Killarney.

There was severe flooding along some coastal routes in Kerry with floods also forcing the temporary closure of the Glenflesk road out of Killarney.

Motorists were urged to avoid the area or, if they had to undertaken essential journeys, to follow diversions via Millstreet on the Cork-Kerry road.

Flooding was also reported on roads in Fermoy, Ballylickey, Lissarda and Macroom.

ESB repair crews were working in Kerry, Clare, Limerick and Cork as the power network again bore the brunt of the weather damage.

The main damage in Cork was focussed on the Fermoy-Glanworth area.

Both Gardai and the AA urged motorists to slow down and drive with extreme caution given the risk posed by localised flooding and the threat of fallen trees.

Gardai also warned that people should be extremely careful near streams and rivers given their dangerously swollen state.

The weather alerts will remain in place until later tomorrow when Storm Desmond is expected to have fully passed over Ireland.

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