Storm Callum: Weather warning 'likely to be extended' as schools urged to 'err on side of caution' when deciding to open or not
- Officials concerned some schools will not be in a position to open tomorrow
- 'Schools are empowered to make closure decisions if in the interest of safety it is prudent to do so'
- Decisions regarding school closures will be made by Board of Management of each school
- Winds of up to 130km will sweep across the country tonight
- Forecaster says they are more than likely going to extend the weather warnings
- 'It will take a while for the winds to abate'
THE Department of Education has told schools, universities, institute of technology and all other education centres in areas affected by a status orange alert to remain vigilant and to “err on the side of caution”.
A meeting of the National Emergency Coordination Group (NECG) was held amid growing fears over the impact of Storm Callum.
Decisions on whether or not to close a school because of severe weather is left to local school management.
Following today’s meeting of the NECG, the Department said schools should keep themselves appraised of any hourly and other updates from Met Éireann, and from their local authorities, local radio, and an Garda Síochána.
“In all events, and if in any doubt, schools should err on the side of caution” the Department stated.
The statement added: "Schools are empowered to make closure decisions if, in their judgment in the interests of child safety, it is prudent to do so.
“Any and all decisions about school closures will be informed by, as well as prevailing and predicted conditions, any damage that might have been caused to school buildings overnight or at any time during the storm, and whether such damage - where it exists - might present a risk to child safety.
The Department said this afternoon it would continue to monitor the situation as it progresses and will follow any advice from the National Emergency Coordination Group.
The Catholic Primary School Management Association (CPSMA), representing about 90pc of primary schools, sent the Department’s advice to its members by email, as well as posting it on its app.
CPSMA General Secretary Séamus Mulconry described the advice as “solid and prudent”.
Winds of up to 130km will sweep across the country tonight.
Key agencies who will be involved in responding to the storm are to meet in Dublin at 3pm.
The NECG includes representatives from Met Éireann, local authorities, the ESB, OPW and government.
Sources indicated they are preparing for the worst but hoping for the best.
The full impact on day-to-day activities, including the transport system in parts of the country, will not become apparent until daylight tomorrow.
As a result schools and business owners will be urged to keep up-to-date on the latest weather forecasts.
The public are being urged to stay away from exposed coastal areas for the duration of the status Orange weather warning.
Speaking today, forecaster Deirdre Lowe said they are more than likely going to extend the weather warnings "as it will take a while for the winds to abate".
Winds of up to 130kmh could pose a "risk to life and property", according to forecasters.
Coastal counties are being advised to batten down the hatches with Met Éireann issuing a Status Orange warning for 13 counties ahead of its arrival tonight.
The forecaster has advised people to stay away from exposed coastal areas for the duration of the warning, which will come into place from 10pm tonight in places.
"An orange level warning is issued by Met Éireann for wind speeds with the capacity to produce dangerous, stormy conditions which may constitute a risk to life and property," the forecaster said.
Head of Forecasting at Met Éireann Evelyn Cusack said a combination of storm-force winds and high tides means there is a possibility of flooding along the east, south and west coast as far north as Donegal.
"It's not a major event in the east, we don't expect a major flooding event along the east coast," she told RTÉ Radio One's Today with Sean O'Rourke programme.
"The south-east winds will be up to gale-force 8-9 and gusting to storm-force 10 overnight.
"There is likely to be some over-topping but the Dublin City Council will have made precautions.
"Certainly, we will have some localised flooding in the east, but the biggest problems will be in the south and west," Ms Cusack continued.
"The first effects will be felt by Kerry and Cork and then will fan along the west coast.
"Tomorrow, it will move away quickly but will be a very windy day all day."
Ms Cusack said the emergency coordination group will meet today to "emphasis the safety measures for people".
"The worst of the winds will be during the night," the forecaster said.
"While it may be a pretty stormy day after dawn, there could be a lot of debris around, fallen trees, and with trees still in leaf there is more of a risk of trees being felled.
"And the possibility of power lines," she added.
ESB Networks has said that a full emergency response is in place for storm Callum as some damage may occur to the network.
The public has been advised that if they come across fall or damaged electricity wires or fallen trees not to touch them as they may be in contact with live wires, instead please report them to the ESB by 1850 372.
They said that if there is a power outage "crews from ESB Networks will be dispatched to the affected areas without electricity supply, making the electricity network safe and assessing the damage, so that they can restore power as quickly and effectively as possible."
Real time information on power outages is also available at www.esbpowercheck.ie
Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy has contacted local authorities to ensure provisions are in place for the safety of rough sleepers.
Cold weather plans are also in place in main urban areas and extra beds have been made available, with outreach teams on the streets to engage with rough sleepers about the services available.
Dublin Fire Brigade has also urged people to lock away or secure items like patio furniture, trampolines and wheelie bins as they may become a safety hazard during the storm.
Secure your wheelie bins tonight, they get scared in the wind and wander off. If it is your bin day tomorrow please leave it until the morning before you let your bin out. They can cause mayhem on the streets and road. #StormCallum pic.twitter.com/5Bl7Z8qlv0— Dublin Fire Brigade (@DubFireBrigade) October 11, 2018
The Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht has advised the public to stay away from all National Parks, National Monuments or Nature Reserves whilst the Status Orange weather warning is in place.
They said in a statement: "Furthermore, while there is a Met Éireann Status Yellow (or above) wind weather warning in place, all woodland areas of Wicklow Mountains National Park and Woodland Nature Reserves in Wicklow, Wexford and Kilkenny that are managed/owned by NPWS will be closed to the public.
"For clarity, this includes Knocksink NNR and Glen of the Downs NNR.
"Visitors are also asked not to visit Killarney National Park, Cork and Kerry Nature Reserves - including Glengarriff Nature Reserve - for duration of the Status Orange warning in Cork and Kerry."
The following National Parks and Nature Reserves will be closed tomorrow:
• Coole-Garryland Nature Reserve (Galway)
• Derryclare Nature Reserve (Galway)
• Diamond Hill (Galway)
• Dromore Nature Reserve (Clare)
• Ellis Wood Trail (Galway)
• Knockma Wood (Galway)
• Laughil Wood (Galway)
• Oldhead Wood (Mayo)
• Wild Nephin/Ballycroy National Park (Mayo)
Speaking this morning, Met Éireann meteorologist Harm Luijkz said tonight is to become "very windy as Storm Callum arrives".
"There will be storm force or gale force gusts, which can be severe or damaging.
"We have issued orange warnings for the coastal counties, and yellow warnings for the inland counties.
"There will be rain later tonight and, combined with winds and high tides, there is a risk of coastal flooding.
"We are advising people to avoid coastal areas during this event."
Cork and Kerry will be the first to be hit by the storm late tonight, with the other counties hit by the orange warning at risk from midnight.
Among these are Donegal, Galway, Mayo, Sligo, Clare, Dublin, Louth, Wexford, Wicklow, Meath and Waterford.
The latter counties are not expected to feel the effects until 9am tomorrow.
"With the advance notice from the OPW and Met Éireann, we've been tracking the storm and preparing."
The Road Safety Authority has urged road users to exercise caution to expect the unexpected and watch out for debris.
It has also advised pedestrians and cyclists to wear bright clothing and take care during the windy conditions.
The individual weather warnings include:
- Status Orange wind warning for Cork and Kerry with winds expected to hit 130km/h. It is valid from today at 10pm and ends at Friday at 9am.
- Status Orange wind warning for Donegal, Galway, Mayo, Sligo and Clare with winds expected to hit 130km/h. It is valid from 11pm tonight to Friday at 5pm.
- Status Orange wind warning for Dublin, Louth, Wexford, Wicklow, Meath and Waterford with winds expected to hit 130km/h. It is valid from midnight tonight to Friday at 9am.
- Status Yellow wind warning for Carlow, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, Longford, Offaly, Westmeath, Cavan, Monaghan, Leitrim, Roscommon, Limerick and Tipperary. It is valid from midnight tonight to Friday at 9am.