Tuesday 23 July 2019

Volume of melting snow raises fears of flooding

Storm Emma reaches Sandycove. Photo: Douglas O’Connor
Storm Emma reaches Sandycove. Photo: Douglas O’Connor

Ralph Riegel and Ryan Nugent

Streams and rivers will surge to flood levels due to huge melting snow volumes as warnings were again issued over the threat of tidal flooding from Dundalk and Dublin to Cork and Limerick.

Irish Water Safety (IWS) issued a special warning for people to avoid lakes, streams and rivers - with vast quantities of snow melt likely to create the risk of flash floods in some areas over the coming days.

Emergency services also urged people to stay away from frozen lakes and ponds given the safety threat they pose.

The warning came as tidal flooding again hit Salthill, Clontarf, Sandycove and Dún Laoghaire in Dublin.

Gardaí were forced to implement road closures because of the scale of flooding by Queen's Road to Sandycove, while parts of the Clontarf Prom were left under a tidal surge.

Cork city and county remains on high alert for a sea surge from Storm Emma until Monday.

The combination of high spring tides coupled with the sea surge from Storm Emma has posed a tidal flooding threat to low lying parts of the city as well as county towns including Midleton, Youghal, Clonakilty and Bantry.

However, such is the height of the tides that warnings have also been issued for parts of Waterford, Dundalk, Wexford, Wicklow, parts of the Shannon Estuary and Limerick.

Council officials stressed that they are monitoring water levels on an hourly basis.

However, Wicklow-based Social Democrat Jennifer Whitmore warned that the flooding threat should not be underestimated given the high tides, sea surge and potential of major snow melt entering streams and rivers. "There's a real risk that, because the main focus is on the current snow storm, that we fail to prepare for potential flooding risks that could be coming our way," she said.

"Snow melt, combined with powerful spring tides, could see localised flooding in coastal areas of the country including Bray and other low lying parts of Wicklow."

In Cork, two days of high spring tides have passed without major property damage.

Even potential flood disruption to traffic and transport has been avoided thanks to motorists opting not to travel due to the Storm Emma safety warnings.

The Office of Public Works (OPW) warned its advisory notice over high tides will remain in place until Monday evening.

"OPW continues to monitor sea levels and storm surge conditions over the coming days," OPW official Jim Casey said.

"The highest tides will be on Friday and Saturday, especially the first tides."

The OPW official warned that the locations most at risk from tidal flooding include Cork city and county, the Waterford coastline, Dublin Bay, Dundalk, Wexford Harbour and areas of Wicklow. The Shannon Estuary and Limerick could also face flooding.

Irish Independent

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