Monday 14 October 2019

Storm Lorenzo: Local authorities put flood plans in action as Ireland braces itself for violent gale-force winds

  • Status Yellow wind warning in place nationwide
  • Threat of fallen trees from storm-force winds
  • Public advised to prepare for power failures
  • National Emergency Co-ordination Group meeting this afternoon
02/10/2019. National Emergency Co-ordination Group (NECG) - Press brief. Pictured Head of Forecasting at Met Éireann Evelyn Cusack briefing the media ahead of storm Lorenzo as it progresses across the Atlantic. Photo: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie
02/10/2019. National Emergency Co-ordination Group (NECG) - Press brief. Pictured Head of Forecasting at Met Éireann Evelyn Cusack briefing the media ahead of storm Lorenzo as it progresses across the Atlantic. Photo: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie
Warning: The expected course of the storm as it approaches Ireland – it’s expected to bring 50mm of rain in parts. Illustration: Alistair Grant

Conor Feehan, Helen Weston, Ralph Riegel and Aoife Walsh

LOCAL authorities on the west coast have started implementing their flood plans ahead of the arrival of Storm Lorenzo this afternoon.

Met Éireann has downgraded it's Orange Status weather warning to a Yellow Status for some counties, but strong storm-force winds are still expected.

The forecaster has updated its Status Orange wind warning for Galway, Mayo, Clare, Kerry and Limerick, warning of southwesterly winds heading towards the west expected to reach mean speeds 65 to 80km/h with gusts generally of 100 to 130km/h. The warning is in place from 6pm today until 6am on Friday.

A Status Yellow wind warning is in place for all of Ireland from 9am until 6pm later today.

READ MORE: Weather warning: 10 top tips for driving safely in the rain

Gardai have advised the public to "avoid coastal areas, drive to anticipate strong cross winds & hazards such as fallen trees. Slow down and allow extra space for pedestrians and cyclists."

While the west coast is expected to get the worst of the storm, a Status Yellow rainfall warning is in place for Leinster, Connacht, Cavan, Monaghan and Donegal until 6am Friday morning.

The National Emergency Co-ordination Group (NECG) for severe weather said the area from south Co Cork through counties Kerry, Clare, Limerick, Galway and Mayo will be under a Status Orange wind warning from 6pm today.

With storm-force gusts possible, there is the risk of trees falling nationwide.

"We expect significant disruptive impacts. There could be trees down anywhere. Even in Yellow areas, people must heed the advice of the local authorities," said head of forecasting at Met Éireann Evelyn Cusack.

More than 50mm of rain will fall in parts of the west and north-west.

Mayo County Council have started operating their flood emergency plan after issuing a level 3 alert at 9am this morning.

Bill O’Brien gets his Doolin Ferry ticket office storm-ready ahead of Lorenzo. Photo: Press 22
Bill O’Brien gets his Doolin Ferry ticket office storm-ready ahead of Lorenzo. Photo: Press 22

A statement from the council urges the public to "exercise extreme caution" when venturing out to high risk coastal areas. Some road closures are expected to be announced later today.

It said: "We are urging the general public to be careful as they go about their daily routines. Should you need to travel, extreme care should be exercised mindful of the conditions. Please be aware of the potential of fallen trees, branches, electricity wires, debris on the roads and walk-ways and flooding in certain areas.

"In the event of Flash flooding and/or fallen trees, we will endeavour to address the matter as soon as is possible mindful of the safety of our Staff. A list of any roads/areas where fallen trees are reported will be published online and on social media channels.

"Coastal areas pose a very high risk currently from wind and high seas.  Please exercise extreme caution in these areas.

6pm today (source – wxcharts.com)
6pm today (source – wxcharts.com)

"We would like to assure the public that Mayo County Council will update you with further information as appropriate over next 24 hours and would request the co-operation of the public until such time as the storm has passed."

The south-west, west and north-west coasts will see all large sea swells and waves driven against the shores.

Ms Cusack told how Storm Lorenzo is tracking north-east and transitioning from being a hurricane into a storm as it crosses from warm waters to cooler waters nearer Europe.

"There will be very low air pressure in the storm, which means there is little weight in the air pushing down on the sea, so sea levels rise.

"That combined with high tide, onshore gale-force 8 to storm-force 10 winds, and storm-force 11 winds for a time this evening, is all pushing against the south-west, west and north-west coast. So there is likely to be coastal flooding and coastal damage," she said.

A forecast of storm-force 11 winds means there will be gusts of more than 100kmh.

"It will be a short event but there is likely to be heavy pockets of rain and as the storm is of tropical origin there will be some thunderstorm activity and lightning," she added.

She said those areas under a Status Yellow wind warning could still see trees being felled.

"With the ground already waterlogged from rain, as well as the fact that the trees still have their leaves, it makes the risk of trees falling greater," she said.

Ms Cusack did not rule out the warning being upgraded to Status Red in some localised coastal areas.

The NECG continues to monitor Storm Lorenzo, and a further update will be issued this morning.

There were reports of panic buying in supermarkets in Cork and Kerry yesterday as people bought milk, bread, batteries and water. Emergency planning meetings of all seven councils in the Status Orange zone took place yesterday - and special repair crews are now on standby for storm-related damage tomorrow.

Two Aer Lingus Regional flights from Birmingham and Edinburgh, which were originally destined for Shannon Airport, have been diverted to Cork Airport.

Ryanair have said they are not expecting any weather disruptions to fights scheduled in and out of Ireland, but have encouraged passengers to check the status of their flight before heading to the airport.

A statement posted on Twitter by the airline reads: "Currently there is no expected weather related disruption to the flight schedule in and out of Ireland tomorrow however we do advise passengers travelling to check the status of their flight before departing for the airport."

A webcam grab from Mace Head Atmospheric Research Station in Co Galway of the approach of Storm Lorenzo
A webcam grab from Mace Head Atmospheric Research Station in Co Galway of the approach of Storm Lorenzo

Bus Eireann have announced that sailings between Rosslare and Pembroke and their Eurolines 890 services between Ireland and UK have been cancelled. Customers have been told to contact eurolinesales@buseireann.ie for for refunds or to re-book.

Institute of Technology, Tralee has informed students that the college will shut it's doors from 5pm, and has cancelled any class trips that were due to take place.

Jim Casey, from the Office of Public Works, said with high tide due around 9pm tonight, sea swells could over-top some coastal walls.

He said they were not expecting a major sea flooding on the east coast, but the situation is being constantly monitored.

The advice for householders, especially those in the Status Orange areas, was to ensure phones are charged in advance of the storm, torches are fitted with fresh batteries, and people have their Eircode and their unique MPRN number for electricity supply to hand in case they have to contact emergency services or report a power failure.

People on shared water schemes that could become compromised were also advised to stock up on drinking water.

Met Éireann webcams from the Mace Head Atmospheric Research Station in Co Galway showed worsening weather as the storm approached. You can see it here.

There are concerns about so-called 'storm hunters' who risk their lives to take dramatic photographs by the coast.

Derek Flanagan, from the Coast Guard, urged people to stay away from coastal areas including piers and cliffs. "Be aware that if you end up in a dangerous situation, you could be putting at risk the lives of the crews that have to go and possibly rescue you," he said.

Irish Independent

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