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Friday 23 August 2019

Storm Hannah: More than 20,000 homes without power, flights cancelled as Met Eireann issues Status Red alert

  • Status Red alert in place for Clare and Kerry
  • Status Orange warning in place for all of Munster and Galway
  • Status Yellow warning issued for 11 counties
Motorists clear the roadway after a fallen tree blocked the main Killarney to Dingle road at Aghadoe, Killarney during the height of Storm Hannah on Friday evening.
Photo: Don MacMonagle
Motorists clear the roadway after a fallen tree blocked the main Killarney to Dingle road at Aghadoe, Killarney during the height of Storm Hannah on Friday evening. Photo: Don MacMonagle
Stock picture
Wild: Walkers on the harbour in Howth, Co Dublin. Photos: Colin Keegan/Collins

Ralph Riegel, Rachel Farrell and Amy Molloy

MORE than 20,000 people in Kerry, Cork, Limerick and Clare have lost power as Storm Hannah swept across Ireland's south west with violent wind gusts expected to reach 150kmh.

As of 10:30pm last night, there were 21,000 homes without power predominately in Cork and Kerry

The ESB said that crews will be out at first light or as soon as it is safe to do so to restore the power.

The spokesperson added that the extent of the damage won't be known until the morning.

Both Clare and Kerry are the focus of Status Red alerts from Met Éireann - the highest possible level of weather warning.

Further major disruption is expected by the ESB to power grids as the storm sweeps over Ireland.

Flights have been cancelled at Kerry, Cork and Shannon Airports.

The worst hit areas are Kenmare and the Dingle Peninsula in Kerry as well as parts of Cork including the Mizen and Macroom.

Blustery: A satellite view of Storm Hannah. Photo: Met éireann
Blustery: A satellite view of Storm Hannah. Photo: Met éireann

Dozens of trees have topped across Kerry, Clare and west Cork as the south west is battered by the fury of Storm Hannah.

The storm is expected to peak between 9pm and 11pm.

Worst hit so far has been Kerry with trees reported down in Kenmare, Ballyroe, Milltown, Ballyhar, Kilcummin, Ardfert and Sneem.

A large amount of debris has also been blown onto roads.

There have also been reports of slates being blown from roofs in parts of Kerry.

The R563 road has been completely blocked by a tree which fell between Milltown and Listry.

All ferry services across Kerry, Clare and Cork have been cancelled because of Storm Hannah.

In west Cork, Castletownbere RNLI launched to assist fishing vessel which had lost all power and was at the mercy of the storm.

The 33ft fishing vessel lost all power in Bere Haven Harbour in west Cork and the lifeboat crew battled sea conditions reaching force nine to assist the vessel with a crew of two people onboard.

Once on scene the lifeboat crew quickly took the vessel under tow and brought it safely to shore where the crew could seek shelter.

Castletownbere RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager Paul Stevens said it was a difficult mission.

"Conditions are very challenging off shore this evening and the crew did a great job in bringing everyone home safe," he said.

"The waves are very high and there are strong winds blowing. We would advise everyone to seek shelter and not attempt to go out during the weather warning."

A number of major tourist attractions closed early across the west and mid-west as a safety precaution given the severe conditions.

The Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience closed from 3.00pm and will only re-open, after safety checks, on Saturday morning.

Fota Wildlife Park in Cork also closed early.

Major sporting events across west Cork, Kerry and Clare have been postponed.

Councils in Kerry, Cork, Limerick and Clare have repair crews on standby amid concerns over fallen trees, structural damage and road debris.

Clare Co Council's Carmel Kirby confirmed their crisis management team was convened.

"The strong message we want to give out is to go home, tie up any loose material in your garden or outside your house and stay inside until the storm passes," she said.

"The safest thing to do is for people to stay indoors."

Clare Co Council's crisis management team met with Gardaí, Irish Coast Guard and other agencies to liaise over the storm response.

Kerry Co Council also staged emergency management meetings amid fears over 130kmh to 150kmh gusts across Slea Head and around Dingle.

Irish Water Safety (IWS) urged people to stay away from exposed coastal areas where winds gusted from 130km in west Cork to 150kmh off Clare.

The warning was issued as a number of people went to the coast to photograph the storm and post social media pictures.

Some of the most violent gusts are expected to be witnessed off Mizen Head, Clogher Head and particularly Loop Head in Clare.

Irish, Spanish and French fishing vessels had fled to port ahead of Storm Hannah.

The winds played havoc with travel services with a number of Bus Eireann services impacted by the Status Red warning.

Shannon Airport was also hit by flight schedule disruption due to wind gusts at the height of the storm.

Both Shannon and Cork Airports had urged passengers to check with their airlines before heading to the airports.

London and Amsterdam services were cancelled at both airports.

One service was also cancelled at Kerry Airport.

A separate Status Yellow wind warning is in place from 11pm Friday until 9am Saturday for Connacht, Carlow, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, Longford, Wexford, Wicklow, Offaly, Donegal, Tipperary and Waterford.

Two Status Orange wind warnings have also been issued for Clare, Cork, Kerry and Limerick from 4pm today until 1am tomorrow and Tipperary and Waterford from 10pm tonight until 2am tomorrow.

Met Éireann warned this morning that the other wind warnings "could dip into Status Red territory".

It comes just days after the mini heatwave that made the Easter Bank Holiday such a pleasant experience for sun lovers - but the national forecaster has now told the public to "be prepared for possible disruption and power outages in some western counties".

"Southwest winds veering northwest will reach mean speed of 65 to 80km/h and gusts of 110 to 120km/h for a time tonight," Met Éireann said.

The storm is expected to bring strong gale force winds to Munster, Connacht and south Leinster tonight, with "severe and damaging gusts" in west Munster and along the coast.

It will become "windy countrywide overnight" but the damaging winds are expected to gradually ease out throughout the night. However, outbreaks of rain will continue with "some heavy bursts".

Gardai have appealed to the public to "extra cautious" as a result of tonight's weather forecast.

They are asking people to use caution near coastal areas and to take necessary precautions out on the roads.

"Cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians should be aware of the danger posed by high winds as they are particularly vulnerable. Drivers of high sided vehicles should take all necessary precautions and pay attention to the warnings," a garda spokesperson said.

"We ask people living near coastal, cliff and waterway areas, particularly those with children, to be extra cautious considering the gusty winds forecast."

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) is urging motorists to "take extreme care" while driving. It is also advising all road users to check local weather and traffic conditions and be aware of the conditions before setting out on a trip.

"It takes longer to stop a vehicle on wet roads so slow down and allow extra distance between you and the vehicle in front," a spokesperson said.

"Pedestrians and cyclists should take extra care when crossing the road or cycling in extremely windy conditions as a sudden gust of wind could blow you into the path of an oncoming vehicle."

ESB has advised people to be prepared for Storm Hannah, with tips including downloading the PowerCheck app, charging your phone and have a working torch available.

The Irish Sailing from the Irish Sailing Youth National Championships is taking place this weekend in Crosshaven, Co Cork but some events have had to be cancelled today due to the weather and tomorrow's races look uncertain.

Hannah Hampers, of the Irish Sailing Youth Championships, said in a statement this evening: "Racing is currently abandoned for the day and possibly until later on Saturday subject to a decision in the morning and depending on the progress of Storm Hanna."

Irish Independent

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