Storm Erik: Met Eireann extends weather warning as 'severe' gusts of up to 130kmh to hit Ireland
- Orange wind and rain warning in place for Donegal
- Nationwide 'Status Yellow' wind warning
- Motorists urged to take care on wet roads, watch for debris
- Public warned of fallen trees
- Risk of spot flooding on coasts and hills
Storm Erik is set to batter Ireland with "severe" gusts of up to 130kmh and Met Eireann has extended a Status Orange weather warning.
Met Éireann has extended a Status Orange wind warning for Donegal until tomorrow, while Status Yellow wind warning is in place for the rest of the country.
The national forecaster has warned that parts of the country will face a "potentially disruptive period of weather".
They said in a statement this afternoon: "Very windy in all areas this aftn. with severe gusts along the north coast. There will be a mix of sunny intervals & heavy showers.
"Afternoon temperatures of 7 to 10 degrees with strong to gale force southwesterly winds. Winds veering westerly and strengthening further this eve."
There is also a Status Yellow rain warning in place until midnight today for counties Donegal, Galway, Mayo and Kerry, with 30 to 40mm rainfall expected.
Forecasters have warned of a risk of spot flooding, especially on coasts and hills.
There are reports of a number of fallen trees in Galway, Sligo, Mayo and Tipperary.
ESB Networks has urged the public not to approach fallen trees as there may be fallen wires.
"VERY IMPORTANT: If you come across fallen trees be aware that there may be fallen wires.
"Please DO NOT APPROACH as the wires could be live and would be extremely dangerous.
"Please stay clear and phone ESB Networks immediately on 1850 372 999 , 021 238 2410."
The Road Safety Authority is advising motorists, warning them "to expect the unexpected", they tweeted.
They also advised those near coastal areas to use caution when driving through large areas of water.
"Watch out for wind-blown debris on the roads, and allow extra space around other road users, especially pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. Slow down on wet roads too, as it takes longer to brake," a spokesperson said.
"Bear in mind that there is a risk of coastal flooding on Atlantic coasts in particular: only drive through water if you know it’s not too deep for your car."
South-west to west winds will reach average speeds of 65kmh to 80kmh, with some severe or damaging gusts of 110kmh to 130kmh.
The Coast Guard has asked the public to "heed the warnings and take appropriate action".
"The Coast Guard is asking users of smaller vessels to pay particular attention to the weather warnings and for the general public to be mindful of the risks on exposed areas - in particular piers, walkways and cliff areas," a spokesperson said.
Marine rescue services are on standby after two vessels were damaged in raging Storm Erik seas off the south west coast.
Both have now been forced to seek shelter and repairs in west Cork bays.
The two vessels, a large Russian factory ship and an Irish trawler, suffered damage as Storm Erik swept by Ireland's south west coast.
Almost 100 crew are on both vessels though neither is at risk of sinking.
Marine rescue services are monitoring both vessels purely as a precautionary measure.
The Irish trawler is now steaming back towards Castletownbere after heavy seas smashed several windows in its wheelhouse.
It is understood eight crew are on board.
The vessel was fishing off the Porcupine Bank when it was damaged in heavy seas and gale force winds.
Meanwhile, a giant Russian factory ship lost power in heavy seas some 200 miles off the Cork coast.
More than 90 crew are on the giant fish factory ship.
The vessel was immediately taken in tow by another Russian vessel and both are steaming slowly towards west Cork.
Both are expected to take almost 12 hours to arrive in an Irish port.
It is understood the Russian vessel will likely berth in Castletownbere pending specialist repairs to her engines and propellor.
Dozens of Irish, Spanish and French trawlers fled to the shelter of Irish bays and ports amid Status Orange warnings over the winds and high seas likely from Storm Erik.
Met Éireann said today's gale force winds and severe gusts would gradually ease later in the day. Rain forecast for this morning was expected to clear, but was to be followed by heavy showers for the rest of the day.
The weekend will see a mixture of sunny spells and scattered showers with frost and ice forming at night.
The National Parks and Wildlife Service has advised the following will be closed today: Connemara National Park, Wild Nephin Ballycroy National Park, Derryclare Nature Reserve, Old Head Nature Reserve, Knochma Wood, near Tuam, Co Galway, and Laughil Wood, near Pontoon, Co Mayo.
Meanwhile, a wildlife rescue centre has said last year's heatwave had a detrimental effect on its hedgehogs and is now raising funds for a new air handling unit.
Hedgehog Rescue Dublin said during the record-breaking temperatures of last year it had to close its doors and move all its animals into the house.
Its volunteers have set up a GoFundMe page with a target of €2,000 for the new cooling/heating system which they hope will keep their hedgehogs happy during the summer and winter months.