Wednesday 16 October 2019

State emergency group to meet as Hurricane Lorenzo looms

  • Government has convened a meeting of its emergency co-ordination group
  • Indications Status Orange weather alerts could be issued if, as feared, Hurricane Lorenzo sweeps over Ireland
  • Tropical storm Lorenzo could bring winds of up to 100kmh
  • Detailed briefing on all national precautions for Lorenzo will be outlined after the meeting
A map shows where the effects of Hurricane Lorenzo will reach. Photo: Alistair Grant Freelance / National Hurricane Center
A map shows where the effects of Hurricane Lorenzo will reach. Photo: Alistair Grant Freelance / National Hurricane Center

Ralph Riegel

THE Government has convened a meeting of its emergency co-ordination group amid indications Status Orange weather alerts could be issued if, as feared, Hurricane Lorenzo sweeps over Ireland as a tropical storm with winds of up to 100kmh.

Lorenzo, which will weaken from a monster category five hurricane to a tropical storm as it slowly approaches Europe, is now looking increasingly likely to bring powerful wind gusts and torrential rainfall to Ireland on Thursday and into Friday.

Such is the potential threat posed by Lorenzo that Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy has now ordered a meeting of the National Emergency Co-ordination Group (NECG) at 4pm today.

"Following meetings with Met Eireann this morning on Hurricane Lorenzo, I am convening a meeting of the NECG in Agriculture House at 4pm today," he said.

READ MORE: 'Serious concerns' Hurricane Lorenzo could hit as all local authorities instructed to activate crisis management

Mr Murphy said a detailed briefing on all national precautions for Lorenzo will be outlined after the meeting.

Coastal areas, particularly in the west of Ireland, are set to face the brunt of the storm with potentially life threatening conditions offshore due to heavy seas and rip currents.

However, Met Éireann's director of forecasting, Evelyn Cusack, warned that the precise track of Lorenzo will only be known early on Wednesday.

In a worst case scenario, the storm will track directly over Ireland with strong wind gusts and heavy rainfall as well as the prospect of possible property damage.

Some coastal areas may potentially face a Status Red alert - the highest possible level of alert issued where there is a potential threat to life from extreme weather conditions.

A satellite image of Hurricane Lorenzo Photo: NASA
A satellite image of Hurricane Lorenzo Photo: NASA

In a best case scenario, the storm will avoid Ireland entirely and track offshore past the west coast.

Irish emergency services, local authorities and utility providers have all been briefed to be prepared in case Lorenzo does track over Ireland on Thursday and into Friday.

Gardaí, the ESB, Irish councils, fire brigades, Health Service Executive and the Irish Coast Guard are all on standby for potential storm damage.

"While it will give some very wet and very windy weather, perhaps Orange Weather warnings will be the worst, perhaps touching a Status Red on the west and north-west coast, but we won't be issuing those warnings until Wednesday morning," Ms Cusack said.

The Azores was on maxiumum alert today as Lorenzo swept by the Atlantic island while still a category three storm.

It is expected the biggest threat will be posed by torrential rainfall and the risk of flash flooding over Wednesday.

Shoppers on Grafton Street brave some recent heavy rain
Shoppers on Grafton Street brave some recent heavy rain

However, Lorenzo is expected to weaken to a tropical cyclone as it approaches Europe - with its sustained wind speeds dropping from its previous high of 260kmh down to below 100kmh.

Meteorologists are focused on whether the storm sweeps east towards the Bay of Biscay or to the north east, sweeping towards Ireland and Iceland.

"Though there is still uncertainty regarding the exact track of Lorenzo, there is a high probability that it could track close to or over Ireland in a weakened form, bringing strong winds, southeasterly initially, veering westerly and strengthening further, with a risk of severe winds developing later Thursday and Thursday night, depending on the track," Met Éireann's Jean Byrne said.

Lorenzo's detailed track will only be known early on Wednesday.

Met Éireann said that, irrespective of Lorenzo's track, weather conditions will quickly change on Friday.

"Conditions will quickly improve, with winds veering northwesterly early on and becoming mostly moderate during the morning.

Housing minister Eoghan Murphy. Photo: Collins
Housing minister Eoghan Murphy. Photo: Collins

Becoming mainly dry also, with maximum temperatures in the mid to high teens.

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