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Wednesday 21 November 2018

One killed and two injured as Storm Rachel swept across the country

ESB worker Shane McGowan works on a telegraph pole in the area of Drumcliffe, Co. Sligo. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
ESB worker Shane McGowan works on a telegraph pole in the area of Drumcliffe, Co. Sligo. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
A tree down in Donegal. Photo: Twitter/‏@michealob67
Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald look on as Fiona O'Sullivan's [ Dept of Justice] umbrella blows in side out in the gusting winds in the main square at Garda HQ in the Phoenix Park. Pic Frank Mc Grath
(Photo credit: Facebook/AranIslands)
Pro surfer Alastair Mennie makes his way towards the beach at Portrush in County Antrim. Photo: Getty Images
This image shows Storm Rachel bearing down on Ireland from the Atlantic. Photo: earth.nullschool.net
The storm approaching Ireland
Twins Misha and Cian Chun enjoying the snow in Loughrea, Co Galway, yesterday. Photo: Hany Marzouk
Race horses exercise on the Curragh plains in Co Kildare, yesterday morning. Photo: Eamon Farrell
People walking their dog at Knockraha, Co Cork, yesterday. Photo: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

Independent.ie Neesdesk

One man was killed and two school girls were injured when storm force winds swept across the country.

Police confirmed a motorist was killed when a tree fell on his van on the Hillsborough Road in Lisburn at 11.30am this morning.

Elsewhere two schoolgirls were injured after they were blown into the path of a bus by strong winds.

The teenagers were walking in Belfast city centre when the accident happened and were treated at the scene.

The storm approaching Ireland
The storm approaching Ireland

Storm force gales battered parts of the country throughout much of the day, with Storm Rachel - which had been forecast as a red alert - tearing down trees as well as electricity power lines and poles.

ESB Networks say around 3,100 homes are currently without power, mostly in Donegal, Monaghan and pockets of  of Galway and Wexford.

A spokesman for Met Eireann has admitted they sometimes "overdo it" in order to err of the side of caution when it comes to issuing coded weather warnings.

Forecasters also downgraded its weather warning to a yellow, forecasting winds of mean speeds 50 to 60km/h, with gusts to between 90 and 100 km, for Cavan, Monaghan, Donegal, Dublin, Louth and Meath.

Showers will also become less frequent, but temperatures will drop to between -2 to +2 degrees C, leading to widespread frost and icy stretches.

Motorists are warned to take extra care on the roads, while air passengers due to fly are told to contact carriers after 38 flights were cancelled at Dublin Airport and 20 others diverted.

Read more: Video: Flights forced to abort landings in strong winds - Storm Rachel

Met Eireann's comments came after people in some parts of the country -- who woke up this morning to normal conditions for this time of year -- flooded phone lines at local radio stations, demanding to know why Met Eireann had put all western coastal counties on a "Red status" weather alert the previous day.

The Red status warning led to the closure of more than 300 schools across the country. The Department of Education, acting on the weather warning, advised schools to consider closing as a precautionary measure.

However, this morning, Limerick City and County Council issued a statement that, "no significant incidents have been reported as a result of Storm Rachel", and that "no emergency calls were received".

Read more: Storm Rachel: Red alert forces school shutdown as 16,000 without power

"We err on the side of caution. Sometimes we overdo it. That's just the way it is. You have to err on the side of caution with these matters," Pat Clarke, meteorologist with Met Éireann, told Live 95FM this morning.

Mr Clarke said: "Well, when you are dealing with life and limb, and when your (weather) models are telling you the winds are going to be a certain value, you're better off to err on the side of caution, than take the opposite view."

"So, based on the information we had last night, we extended the 'Red' warning from the North and Northwest further down the West coast, to include Munster counties. And, parts of Cork and Kerry did get some red values last night, but Limerick city didn't."

Overnight damage

Thousands of people across the country were left without electricity following a night of strong and gale force winds with gusts of up to 150km/h. 

ESB report that Storm Rachel damaged electricity infrastructure in the North West, West and South of the country.

As one stage the number of homes without power was over 17,000.

Unfortunately due to the numbers of faults in the North West, it is likely that approximately 400-500 customers, currently without supply, will not have supply restored tonight. These customers are mainly located in the following areas:

·         Derrybeg (Annagry, Kincasslagh, Crolly)

·         Falcarragh (Knockfola, Bloodyforeland)

·         Ballina (Knockmore, Gortenamuck)

·         Belmullet/Erris (Carnhill, Pullathomas, Falmore, Blacksod)

“Conditions on the ground are challenging with strong winds and rain hampering restoration and making conditions unsafe for our technicians,” a spokesperson for ESB Networks said this morning.

“From early this morning, when it is safe to do so, ESB Networks crews will be out making the electricity network safe and assessing the damage, so that crews can be deployed to restore power as quickly and effectively as possible.”

Flights last night between Cork and London Heathrow were also cancelled as the weather disruption began.

In Dublin, fire crews are moving a tree which fell on the road between Skerries and Lusk, narrowly missing a passing motorist.

Flooding

Flooding was also reported in parts of Donegal and Galway and dozens of felled tress hampered driving conditions on roads across the country.

Garda Inspector John Ferris warned "thrill-seekers" not to venture near the coast.

"We would appeal to thrill-seekers going to cliffs and coastal paths to look at the beauty of nature. We have encountered cases where people have brought kids to these areas, which is completely irresponsible."

Yesterday saw chaos across western counties after heavy snow falls.

Read more: Counties braced for Storm Rachel

More than 300 schools were closed due to poor road conditions and the cancellation of bus services.

The worst of the bad weather hit between 6am and 9am this morning but weather warnings are to remain in place until 5pm this evening.

Schools have been urged to “err on the side of caution” and remain closed if there are concerns about the ferocity of the storm.

Weather warning updates

The Red alert for Limerick has since been downgraded to Orange with Southwest winds expected to reach mean speeds of 65 to 80 km/h with gusts of 110 to 120 km/h at times, highest in exposed areas.

A red status weather alert remains in place until noon today for Donegal, Sligo, Mayo, Galway, Clare and Kerry.

After that, an orange alert will remain in place for those counties.

Mr Clarke said Ireland was lucky to escape a series of tornados that were created out of Storm Rachel which hit parts of England.

"Storms don't hit equally everywhere. For example, when (Storm Rachel) moved in over the southwest of England, it generated a whole load of tornados and we were lucky not to get those during the night. They missed us and effected England. Equally the winds are not always the same values everywhere, it depends on location, and whether it's exposed."

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