Status Orange wind alert issued for Donegal, Mayo and Galway
Two more storms possible over coming weeks - Met Eireann
THE west and northwest are set to be battered by heavy rain and winds with gusts of up to 120 km/h tomorrow - and that's even before Storm Ciara blows in from the North Atlantic on Sunday - prompting Met Eireann to issue two Status Yellow warnings for the entire country this weekend.
The national forecaster this afternoon upgraded its wind warning to Status Orange affecting counties Donegal, Mayo and Galway.
The warning goes into effect from noon on Saturday until 4pm on Saturday for counties Donegal and Mayo which could see south to southwest winds reach mean speeds of between 65 to 80 km/h with gusts of up to 120 km/h.
The same warning will apply to Co Galway from 1pm to 6pm on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the rest of the country will be under both a Status Yellow wind and rainfall warning for the entire weekend - culminating with the arrival of Storm Ciara on Sunday.
The wind warning goes into effect from 9am Saturday until midnight on Sunday in which southerly winds will gain strength over the course of the day with mean speeds of between 50 and 65 km/h and gusts of between 90 to 110km/h.
Heavy rain will also start to move in from the west on Saturday when a Status Yellow rain warning goes into effect at noon and will remain in place until 3pm Sunday. The rain will move eastward through the course of the day with between 20mm and 40mms forecast.
There will be a brief reprieve on Saturday night before the wet and windy conditions kick in again on Sunday, according to Met Eireann's Head of Forecasting Evelyn Cusack.
"There will be a gap on Saturday evening before another storm comes in on Sunday," she told Independent.ie.
Met Eireann is warning of very strong and potentially damaging gusts as Ciara, the third named storm of the year, blows in from the North Atlantic where very strong winds have been churned up by the jet stream due to the clash of Arctic air over Canada and tropical air from the south, she said.
The storm will bring another bout of very heavy rain with possible sleet, hail and snow showers over Connacht and Ulster, Ms Cusack said.
"It's not going to be a major storm but it will be a very gusty, windy day on Sunday."
To make matters worse, the combination of spring tides coupled with high seas could lead to coastal flooding, especially along the south, west and northwestern coasts at the weekend and well into next week, Ms Cusack said.
"We're entering a very windy period for next week and there could be two more storms (then)," she said.
A garda spokesperson has advised people to be cautious during the storm.
"Gardaí are advising the public to avoid coastal areas and drivers of high-sided vehicles should take extra caution as a Status Yellow wind and rainfall warning is in place from tomorrow 8th February in advance of the arrival of Storm Ciara," they said.
The National Parks and Wildlife Service has urged the public to not visit Connemara National Park or Wild Nephin Ballycroy National Park while the weather warning are in place.
"The NPWS also advises the public not to visit National Parks, National Monuments or Nature Reserves in the areas covered by the weather warnings whilst the warnings are in place and asks for their ongoing cooperation on this matter", an NPWS spokesman said.
The following locations are closed due to the wind warning: