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Stormy seas crash on to the shore at Mullaghmore in Co Sligo. Photo: Colin Gillen

Stormy seas crash on to the shore at Mullaghmore in Co Sligo. Photo: Colin Gillen

Ballycastle, Co Antrim via Whatsapp

Ballycastle, Co Antrim via Whatsapp

Barry Loftus running along the storm damaged walkway at Enniscrone, Co. Sligo. Photo : Keith Heneghan

Barry Loftus running along the storm damaged walkway at Enniscrone, Co. Sligo. Photo : Keith Heneghan

Inside the cafe at the beach along the promenade in Portstewart, Co Derry

Inside the cafe at the beach along the promenade in Portstewart, Co Derry

A man and his dog walk the Salthill promenade, Galway, as winds start to pick up, and Met Eireann has issued a weather warning forecasting wind gusts of up to 110kmh. Photo: PA

A man and his dog walk the Salthill promenade, Galway, as winds start to pick up, and Met Eireann has issued a weather warning forecasting wind gusts of up to 110kmh. Photo: PA

High seas in Portrush Co-Antrim

High seas in Portrush Co-Antrim

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Stormy seas crash on to the shore at Mullaghmore in Co Sligo. Photo: Colin Gillen

Record waves and hurricane force winds blasted the west coast of the country last night with damage caused to hundreds of properties and thousands of people left without power.

And now temperatures are set to plunge to lows of -3C as a cold snap hits for the weekend.

The so-called 'weather bomb' yesterday brought wind gusts of 130kmh and a wave off Co Donegal four times the height of a double- decker bus.

Roofs were ripped off buildings and dozens of trees felled as the storm ripped up the western seaboard.

In Co Donegal 11 children had a miraculous escape when the minibus taking them to school was hit by a falling tree in Letterkenny.

The bus driver managed to slam on the brakes of his vehicle just in time. The bus then hit the tree.

In Limerick, strong winds blew some of the city's Christmas lights down. The lights were down for up to an hour, a Limerick County Council spokesperson said.

"Early this morning strong winds blew some Christmas lights off their fixings around the junction of O'Connell St/Shannon St near to the AIB Bank."

"The road was closed temporarily and a small traffic diversion was put in place as the area was made safe," the county spokesperson said.

"The road re-opened at 8.30am after the electricians removed this particular street crossing of lights and everything is back to normal now."

In Portstewart, Co Derry, a jogger and a dog-walker were rescued after being swept out to sea in separate incidents.

Gales left debris strewn about the shore as coastal properties took a battering.

Meanwhile the visitors' centre at the Cliffs of Moher had to be evacuated as the winds whipped up rocks, posing a danger to visitors and staff.

Tourists were also banned from cliff walks.

"Winds were extremely dangerous with some air borne rock debris falling near the viewing platforms," said centre manager Katherine Webster.

"There were small stones and even some fist-size debris swept up by the winds.

There has been some damage to barriers but we will not be able to assess that until the storm passes.

"It wasn't safe for staff or visitors to remain on-site so everyone was evacuated during the morning. Under no circumstances should anyone proceed with a visit to the cliffs under these conditions."

ESB Networks crews had to deal with power cuts to customers in all the counties affected by Met Eireann's Orange Status weather alert - Clare, Galway, Mayo, Sligo and Donegal.

The weather warning remains in place until 10am today.

A new record was set off the Donegal coast for consistently high waves.

The M4 Donegal Buoy measured a record Significant Wave Height of 15.7m (51.5ft) at 11am yesterday. The previous highest was 15.2m (49.8ft), recorded earlier this year on January 26.

Despite warnings, some surfers did take to the waters.

The Irish Coast Guard's Sligo 118 helicopter was scrambled to Kilcummin Head in Co Mayo after reports one surfer had been swept out to sea. However the man managed to make it back to shore.

The same helicopter crew provided humanitarian assistance to a number of islanders by returning them to Tory off the Donegal coast after ferries were cancelled.

Met Eireann forecaster Owen Sherlock said wind gusts at Finner and Malin Head - both in Donegal - reached 128km/hr.

He said the worst of the storm will subside this morning but there will be further wintry showers and temperatures are set to turn very cold.

The south west of the country will get the next weather system tonight, with heavy rain expected.

"It will spread eastwards overnight, but colder conditions will move into the northern half of the country with the rain here turning wintry in parts of Ulster and Connacht.

"It will be a bitterly cold night with temperatures falling to between -3 and 0 degrees," he said.

"It will be a windy night too with strong and gusty westerly winds developing."

It will be very cold on Friday with temperatures struggling to reach values between 3C and 6C. It will be another blustery day.

What is a weather bomb?

AN explosive cyclogenesis - known colloquially as a "weather bomb" - is when a storm intensifies as the pressure at its centre drops rapidly by more than 24 millibars in 24 hours.

The meteorological phenomena known as rapid or explosive cyclogenesis occurs when dry air from the stratosphere flows into an area of low pressure. It is a rare event which almost always happens at sea with the North Atlantic having the right conditions for it.


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