Tuesday 16 January 2018

Sun and showers to continue over weekend -- and it will get cold too

People shelter from the rain as play is suspended due to bad weather during day one of the Irish Open
People shelter from the rain as play is suspended due to bad weather during day one of the Irish Open
Darija Balcionaite and Victoria Kirklaityte enjoy the sunshine in St Stephen's Green, Dublin
Allison Bray

Allison Bray

KEEP your sun cream and brolly at hand as the unsettled weather that brought torrential rain and floods -- coupled with spells of glorious sunshine yesterday -- is set to continue.

While many residents of West Cork were bailing out floodwaters after a deluge of between 30 and 50mm, parts of the east and west coasts basked in sunshine.

Today will see a mix of sun and showers across the country, with continuing muggy temperatures of up to 20C along the east coast and fresher, cooler temperatures on the west coast of around 15C, said Met Eireann forecaster David Rogers.

Tomorrow will also see more showery rain in the morning moving in from the West. "It will feel noticeably cooler with highs of only between 14 to 18C," he said.

Householders and businesses are braced for the risk of further flash floods and crippling clean up costs as weather forecasters tonight warned of more heavy rain.

Cork and Belfast bore the brunt of the first swathe of freak downpours as storm drains and gulleys proved useless against deluges over seven hours.

At the height of disruption more than 10,000 homes in the Cork area and 1,000 in Northern Ireland suffered black outs.

Flood damage hit hundreds of homes and businesses in the affluent Cork suburb of Douglas with the village streets inundated by several feet of water, the shopping centre and well known local pubs and restaurants worst hit.

Local concerns centred on whether a storm culvert designed to cope with a major flooding incident was able to wash away the rain water.

Douglas had suffered the heaviest rain in the country in a short blast yesterday evening - 49.1mm.

Some of the other hardest hit areas included Clonakilty, where the Farla river was close to bursting its banks most of the day with the town cut off for hours, and Glanmire where some homes in one estate ended up in five feet of water.

Nearer the city, the southside suffered the most with homes in Greenmount, Bishopstown, the Viaduct, Turner's Cross, Ballyphehane and Togher badly damaged.

Mallow avoided danger as the flood waters on the Blackwater peaked in the afternoon while the warning systems for flooding on the River Bandon in Bandon town were on yellow most of the day, high status.

"The council is continually monitoring all wastewater and water service facilities to ensure continued service but at present all are operating as normal," a spokesman for Cork County Council said.

"The council are also in contact with the ESB regarding power issues at pumping stations and routing emergency generating equipment."

Met Eireann said 50mm of rain fell in a three-hour period across Cork on to already saturated ground - three times the average June total has fallen in Cork this month.

According to official records the city's airport has average rain of 67.7mm in June - today it is 230.8mm - more than three times higher.

Dublin Airport is two and a half times over the June average of 55.8mm.

Forecasters warned that rain will be very heavy this evening, especially across the Midlands, Leinster and in Ulster. There will be a chance of thunderstorms and hail, along with the risk of further spot flooding, it said.

Rain is also forecast to be heavy overnight across the south and east of the country, with a chance of thundery downpours and further flooding in the far south. Tomorrow will see more showers mixed with good dry spells and the weekend is forecast to be dry.

City Council bosses said pre-emptive action helped reduce the impact of the flash floods which left more than a dozen areas under water. Emergency services in the city received 128 calls for help following floods, including 45 callers needing direct rapid response.

Worst-hit in the city were a significant number of properties, both business and residential, in Blackpool Village and Watercourse Road in the early hours of the morning.

Elsewhere, the council said localised flooding was reported on the Old Kinsale Road near the business park, Sarsfield Road roundabout, Monaghan Road, Centre Park Road and Turner's Cross.

Up to a metre of water was reported on the main streets of Douglas village with 10,000 customers blacked out at around 8.30am when an electricity sub-station went down.

Most homes were quickly restored and by lunchtime all of Douglas was reconnected while the rest of the day was spent trying to reconnect 700 in Clonakilty and 200 in Bandon and other pockets in the county.

Reverend Paul Colton, Church of Ireland Bishop of Cork, said he was shocked by the the level of flooding across the city and county.

"It was with disbelief that I looked at the pictures of my home village of Douglas through which we drove, only yesterday, to the Church of Ireland Church for my mother's funeral," said Rev Colton.

"My wife and I know personally many who live and make their livelihoods in premises in Douglas village and, not only there, but also in the other parts of the outer city and county that have been badly affected.

"I am mindful also that there has been similar flooding in other parts of our island, particularly in Belfast.

"My thoughts and prayers are with everyone who has been affected and whose lives have now been thrown into chaos and vulnerability.

"Equally, I assure all in the emergency services and civic authorities of my solidarity and prayerful support."

Noel O'Keeffe, an engineer with Cork County Council, said the flood in Douglas was caused in part by a major storm culvert being blocked.

The drain is designed to cope with a one in 1000 event.

"You have a trash screen on the outside to stop debris going in. It performed perfectly but a massive amount of debris came down," he said.

The screen - 3.2m wide and 1.6m high - is designed to stop children climbing through.

It should have carried the flood under the Tesco store in Douglas.

Tyres, a gas bottle, blocks of timber, bricks, huge piles of the Japanese knotweed plant, leaves and mud had to be cleared from it at 5am.

The debris was washed down in one huge 15 minute deluge, he said.

The drain is designed to carry 14.7 cubic metres of water per second - 40% above the recommended 8.8 cubic metres.

Irish Independent

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