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violent winds Schools in 12 counties to shut as gardaí warn against unnecessary travel during storm

Storm Barra will also lead to significant disruption to HSE services, with Covid test centres in red alert areas closing and some elective surgeries in hospitals cancelled

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Declan Shortt of the Kerry Branch of the Civil Defence preparing for Storm Barra. Photo: Domnick Walsh

Declan Shortt of the Kerry Branch of the Civil Defence preparing for Storm Barra. Photo: Domnick Walsh

Declan Shortt of the Kerry Branch of the Civil Defence preparing for Storm Barra. Photo: Domnick Walsh

Schools across large swathes of the country will close tomorrow as Storm Barra will batter Ireland with wind gusts reaching a violent 140kmh.

Universities, colleges and further education facilities have also been advised to stay shut in in all counties with Red and Orange weather alerts.

Storm Barra will also lead to significant disruption to HSE services, with Covid test centres in red alert areas closing and some elective surgeries in hospitals cancelled.

That includes Cork, Kerry and Clare, all of which have been issued with a Status Red warning.

It also covers Limerick, Waterford, Galway, Mayo, Wexford, Dublin, Louth, Wicklow and Meath, which are under a Status Orange warning.

A statement from the Department of Education said: “A red alert has now been issued by Met Éireann relating to severe wind for counties Clare, Kerry and Cork.

“A Status Orange warning has issued for counties Limerick, Waterford, Galway, Mayo, Wexford, Dublin, Louth, Wicklow, Meath.

“Met Éireann has advised that there is a strong possibility that the status of parts of these counties currently in Status Orange are likely to change and escalate to Status Red.

“Due to the significant nature of Storm Barra, as forecast by Met Éireann and to give sufficient notice to schools and parents/guardians, the Department is advising that all schools covered by the Red Alert and Orange warning from Met Éireann should not open tomorrow, December 7.

“All schools should keep up-to-date with the current weather warnings which are carried on all national and local news bulletins and in particular any change in the status warning for their area.”

UCD is also postponing conferring ceremonies due to take place tomorrow and they will be rescheduled “as soon as possible” a spokesperson said.

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A map showing Storm Barra's 'double weather bomb'. Photo: Alistair Grant

A map showing Storm Barra's 'double weather bomb'. Photo: Alistair Grant

A map showing Storm Barra's 'double weather bomb'. Photo: Alistair Grant

People have been warned Storm Barra now poses a potential threat to life.

Cork, Kerry and Clare are subject to a Status Red weather warning, which automatically triggers advice to stay indoors.

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Bus Éireann will not operate services in an area affected by a Status Red weather warning, or travel into an affected area for the duration of the warning.

It comes as gardaí warned against all unnecessary travel where Status Red and Orange level wind warnings are in place.

A spokesperson said: “These winds will make driving conditions hazardous, especially for more vulnerable road users such as cyclists, pedestrians, motorcyclists and high-sided vehicles.”

Met Éireann says the storm is expected to bring severe and damaging wind gusts in excess of 130km/h to the region.

Meanwhile, all vaccination and test centres in Kerry, Cork and Clare will remain shut tomorrow.

Vaccination clinics at Galway Racecourse, Carrick-on-Shannon primary care unit, Breaffy House in Mayo and Sligo Racecourse will also close.

Ennis Hospital said some elective procedures will take place if patients can be safely discharged by 2pm, while all elective surgeries in hospitals in the south and south-west group will not go ahead, with the exception of time critical cases.

Breast check appointments in south Tipperary, Limerick and Kerry are also cancelled.

The National Ambulance Service said it will prioritise emergency calls during this weather event but is urging the general public to think carefully before calling.

The Courts Service also confirmed that sittings in Kerry, Cork, Clare and Newcastle West are cancelled tomorrow.

People are being advised to keep up to date with local travel advice and Met Eireann forecasts and weather warnings.

Aoife Kealy, meteorologist at Met Éireann said: “Storm Barra will bring dangerous weather conditions across Ireland from early on Tuesday morning, with very strong winds and spells of heavy rain spreading across the country through the afternoon.

"Gusts of around 90km/h are expected widely inland, with the strongest winds across southern and western areas where we could see gusts reaching 130km/h or higher along coastal areas.

“Very strong winds in combination with high tides means there is a risk of large coastal waves and coastal flooding, particularly along southern and western parts of the country.

“Driving conditions will be tricky and dangerous at times, with the risk of fallen trees, fallen power lines and flooding from the heavy rain. Temporary outdoor structures will be particularly vulnerable to the expected wind gusts.

"We’re advising the public to listen to their local travel advice and to keep a close eye on Met Éireann forecasts and warnings, as they may be updated.”

Commenting on the possibility of snow, Aoife said: “Whilst most of the country will see spells of heavy rain, some northern and north-western areas are likely to have sleet and hill snow and along with the strength of the wind, this could lead to tricky driving conditions and reduced visibility on the road.”

Meanwhile, gardaí also warned homeowners to “remove or secure patio and garden furniture, rubbish bins and any loose items from around buildings”.

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Waves battering the coast during Hurricane Ophelia in November 2017

Waves battering the coast during Hurricane Ophelia in November 2017

Waves battering the coast during Hurricane Ophelia in November 2017

They have also said that anyone undergoing building work should review hoarding and scaffolding in light of heavy rain and winds expected.

Meanwhile, retailer Aldi has announced it is to temporarily close its stores in counties Cork, Kerry and Clare tomorrow in light of the Status Red weather alert.

The stores in both counties Cork and Kerry will remain closed throughout the day, while the outlets in Clare will close at 3pm on Tuesday and remain closed until 9am on Wednesday.

“We are monitoring the weather situation closely and if there are any changes we will communicate this,” a company spokesperson said.

“The health and safety of all our customers and store teams is our priority.”

Lidl also announced it would be shutting stores in Cork and Kerry.

AIB and Ulster Bank announced they will close their branches tomorrow in Cork, Kerry and Clare.

A spokesperson for AIB said: “We are keeping the situation under review. Customers can view any updates at aib.ie and ebs.ie.”

A spokesperson for Ulster Bank said: “Other services such as Telephony, Online Banking and our App are available as normal.”

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