Monday 21 May 2018

Three weather warnings in place as flooding reported in several places

  • Rainfall warning in place for eight counties
  • Wind warning issued for three counties
  • Coastal areas will be the worst hit
  • Fears rain will lead to burst river banks
Larisa Tuaev, from Russia, gets battered by the waves at Sandycove, Co Dublin. Photos: Justin Farrelly
Larisa Tuaev, from Russia, gets battered by the waves at Sandycove, Co Dublin. Photos: Justin Farrelly

Kirsty Blake-Knox, Ralph Riegel and Margaret Donnelly

Deluges of heavy rain across large parts of the country will bring flash flooding, waterlogged fields and burst river banks.

Deluges of heavy rainfall across large parts of the country will bring flash flooding, waterlogged fields and burst river banks.

A desperately cold and wet spring has left farmers in most parts of the country short on fodder and facing severe forage problems.

Now Met Éireann has issued two separate status yellow weather rainfall warnings as eight counties face the threat of flooding.

The warnings of heavy downpours remain in place until 3pm today and affect counties Kilkenny, Wexford, Clare, Limerick, Tipperary, Cork, Kerry and Waterford.

Between 25mm and 30mm of rain was expected to fall in the eight counties last night.

Along the southern coast, rainfall levels are predicted to reach 50mm.

Strong gusts of south-westerly winds whipped coastal regions in the west last night, and increased the likelihood of spot flooding, Met Éireann meteorologist Pat Clarke said.

“Coastal areas will be the worst hit,” he said.

“The sudden downpours could result in flash and spot flooding and cause rivers to rise and river banks to burst.”

A wind warning has been issued for Galway, Mayo, Clare and Kerry which will remain in place until 6pm today.

Spot flooding has already been reported on secondary roads in the Fermoy, Mallow, Bandon, Macroom, Tralee, Killarney and Kenmare areas.

Roads in west Waterford around Lismore have also been hit by the heavy rainfall.

Gardaí urged motorists to slow down, allow extra braking distance to the vehicle in front and never to enter major floodwaters given the risk of vehicles becoming stalled and stranded.

Irish Water Safety has urged people to be extremely careful near all streams, rivers and lakes given that large volumes of rainfall could transform normally placid waterways into torrents.

There is also a risk on higher ground that some mountain streams could be subjected to flash floods given the sheer volume of rain that has fallen.

Residents and traders in low lying areas have also been warned to take flood precautions though, as yet, there have been no reports of property damage.

Towns including Fermoy and Mitchelstown have erected Office of Public

Works (OPW) flood barriers amid fears that major waterways like the River Blackwater could break its banks.

There is also a risk of flooding along riverside farmland in the Lee and Funcheon river valleys.

Low lying parts of Cork city are also on flood alert.

The heaviest overnight rainfall hit Cork, Kerry and Waterford.

Met Éireann warned that a yellow weather alert will remain in place for rainfall until this afternoon for those counties.

By 5pm today, the Atlantic front which brought the torrential rainfall over Ireland will have moved to the east.

The Irish Coast Guard and RNLI warned the flooding threat should not be underestimated over the coming days.

A respite in rainfall yesterday afternoon meant some areas avoided becoming completely waterlogged.

The poor spring weather follows on from an extremely wet autumn in 2017 which has seen some livestock housed for over eight months.  

Storm Ophelia and Storm Emma further compounded the plight of farmers, as gusts of up to 156kmh and snow drifts engulfed the country.

The situation, which many are now dubbing a crisis, is reminiscent of the 2013 fodder shortage caused by drought.

The current shortage has seen prices for feed and fodder skyrocket.

The first shipments of fodder from Britain landed in Cork and Rosslare harbours yesterday and Teagasc is advising farmers to budget feed to minimum roughage requirements of stock for three more weeks.

Meanwhile, around the country, county councils began preparations to stymie flood damage.

In Kilkenny, the County Council said it would continue to monitor water levels and  had made sandbags available for high risk areas.

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) has asked road users to exercise caution while using the roads today. Increased rainfalls can lead to hydroplaning and a loss of traction on roads, drastically increasing the chances of road traffic accidents.

The RSA said when driving in wet conditions, drivers should remember that it takes longer to stop a vehicle on wet roads so slow down and allow extra distance between you and the vehicle in front.

Irish Rail have confirmed bus transfers will operate between Limerick Junction and Waterford until further notice due to flooding on the line.

In a separate incident DART passengers were left stranded on a train for three hours due to fallen wires on the track at Bray Head.

Around 30 passengers were travelling on a train when the wires became tangled and services were suspended at 9.30pm on Thursday night.

A spokesman said that due to the remote location of the stalled train and the difficulty accessing the area customers were not moved off the train for a number of hours.

Eventually passengers were transferred to a diesel commuter train and were brought to Bray, arriving at around 12.40am this morning.

The spokesman said the company had apologised to customers involved but added safety must come first.

Services on the line resumed shortly after 8am on Friday morning.

Thankfully, the skies will clear slightly over the weekend as temperatures reach from 11C to 14C.

There will be scattered showers in south-west counties, but elsewhere should stay relatively dry over the course of the weekend.

The evenings will be cool but there is little chance of frost.

The month of March was an unsettled month, Met Éireann said, with very cold temperatures and widespread air and ground frost.

Donegal experienced the most ground frost with 26 days.  

While this spring may seem exceptionally cold and wet, experts are warning of further extreme and devastating weather events as a result of global warming.

Temperatures have increased by 1C from pre-industrial levels and are projected to increase by a further 1.5C to 4.5C by 2100.

This increase in temperature will result in the sea levels rising by between 0.5 and one metre, Met Éireann’s Gerald Fleming has warned.

As a result, coastal erosion will escalate and make seaside cities and towns like Cork, Wexford and Clontarf more susceptible to flood damage.

Irish Independent

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