Barra battering | 

Met Eireann issue new Orange alerts as schools and childcare closed in 12 counties

Schools, childcare and third-level colleges in 12 Status Red or Orange counties – Dublin, Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Cork, Kerry, Waterford, Limerick, Clare, Galway, Mayo and Wexford – will remain closed today.
A man leaps out of the surging water running across the pier at Howth Harbour. Photo: Stephen Collins

A man leaps out of the surging water running across the pier at Howth Harbour. Photo: Stephen Collins

Ralph Riegel and Edel Hughes

Storm Barra continues to lash Ireland leaving destruction in its wake as councils and emergency services admitted the toll could have been far worse.

Nearly 40,000 homes and businesses still had no power last night and RTE reports the figure has reached over 50,000 this morning.

Brothers Gerard and TJ Brosnan clear a fallen tree on the Ring of Kerry outside Killarney. Photo: Don MacMonagle

Brothers Gerard and TJ Brosnan clear a fallen tree on the Ring of Kerry outside Killarney. Photo: Don MacMonagle

Dozens of roads were flooded and coastal cities and towns including Limerick, Cork, Bantry, Youghal, Kenmare, Waterville and Tralee were flooded by a storm surge.

Schools, childcare and third-level colleges in 12 Status Red or Orange counties – Dublin, Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Cork, Kerry, Waterford, Limerick, Clare, Galway, Mayo and Wexford – will remain closed today.

The confirmation that education and childcare facilities in Dublin were being advised to close only came late yesterday evening from the the Department of Education after Met Éireann issued a revised Orange wind alert for the county until 7am on Wednesday.

Met Eireann have also issued new Status Orange wind warnings for Donegal, Sligo and Leitrim as Barra continues to mercilessly batter the northwest.

The alert for Donegal is valid from 05:34am this morning until 2pm this afternoon.

Met Eireann revealed: "Northwesterly winds will reach mean speeds of 65 to 80 km/h with severe or damaging gusts of 100 to 130 km/h, with localised stronger winds likely.

"Due to a combination of high waves, storm surge and high tide, coastal flooding is expected. Disruption to power and travel are likely."

Meanwhile, Sligo and Leitrim are also under an Orange warning until 8am this morning with gusts of up to 130km/h expected.

A nationwide Status Yellow alert is also in place for the entire country until 6pm this evening.

A forecaster said: "Storm Barra will bring widespread mean speeds of 50 to 65 km/h and gusts of 90 to 110 km/h with localised stronger winds likely.

Storm Barra Clontarf seafront. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Storm Barra Clontarf seafront. Photo: Gerry Mooney

"Heavy rain will also bring risks of surface flooding and, due to a combination of high waves, storm surge and high tide, coastal flooding is expected. Disruption to power and travel are likely."

Yesterday, a man was killed and another injured in a two-vehicle collision on the R458 between Ardrahan and Gort in Co Galway amid poor driving conditions about 3pm.

Property damage was far less severe than initially feared. The worst power outages caused by storm damage were in Cork, Kerry, Wexford, Wicklow and Donegal.

At its height, Storm Barra winds raged to a damaging 156kmh, with the most powerful gust recorded at the Fastnet Rock lighthouse off the west Cork coast.

Irish Water also issued boil notices for several areas and said the supplies of nearly 80,000 people were at risk of poor water quality due to turbulence from the storm.

By 1pm, sustained Atlantic winds off the west Munster coast were raging at just below hurricane level.

The Government and emergency services said the widespread compliance with the ‘stay at home’ Status Red alert in Cork, Clare and Kerry and Status Orange alert in 12 other counties undoubtedly saved lives given the extent of fallen trees and flying debris.

There were some near misses, with a tree falling near a car in Wicklow, another tree falling near a Kerry school and debris which was ripped off Cork city centre buildings tossed like missiles across normally busy shopping streets by the raging winds.

A man leaps out of the surging water running across the pier at Howth Harbour. Photo: Gerry Mooney

A man leaps out of the surging water running across the pier at Howth Harbour. Photo: Gerry Mooney

In Cork, householder Maddie O’Brien had a tree topple into her garden, narrowly missing her home.

A lorry driver avoided serious injury when his articulated vehicle was blown onto its side by severe gusts on the high span bypass of Fermoy on the M8 Dublin-Cork motorway shortly after 2pm.

The northbound section of the motorway was closed with significant damage caused to the central median safety barrier. A heavy lift crane will recover the lorry once the Status Red alert is lifted.

Cork City Council had to close a road at Kilcully after power lines were dangerously brought down across the route.

Council workers clear the road and restore power in Timoleague, West Cork, after Storm Barra hit. Photo: Andy Gibson/PA

Council workers clear the road and restore power in Timoleague, West Cork, after Storm Barra hit. Photo: Andy Gibson/PA

Householders in Cork also suffered the loss of water supplies.

Irish Water warned that power disruption and Storm Barra damage affected supplies to customers in Drinagh, Whiddy Island, Carrigtwohill, Blarney, Tower, Eyries and Ardgroom.

Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien said the storm was as severe as forecast – and paid tribute to councils and emergency services for their response.

“This was a multi-hazard event with high winds, a storm surge and torrential rainfall,” he said.

National Emergency Coordination Group (NECG) chairman Keith Leonard urged people to be cautious as weather alerts were lifted amid concern that some trees may still fall over the coming days having been critically weakened by Storm Barra.

Tidal flooding on the South Mall in Cork city. Photo: Daragh McSweeney/Provision

Tidal flooding on the South Mall in Cork city. Photo: Daragh McSweeney/Provision

There is also concern over debris from buildings damaged by the storm. Gardaí are investigating reports of ‘storm watchers’ who ignored the Status Red warning to take selfies or photos at exposed coastal areas amid dangerous winds and raging seas – putting themselves and members of the emergency services at risk.

Cork, Clare and Kerry virtually shut down in light of the Met Éireann warning – with everything from schools to hospitals, shops and vaccination centres remaining closed.

While the two Munster counties were hammered by Storm Barra winds from 6am until 2pm, the worst of the storm winds hit Clare, Galway and the south-east from mid-afternoon.

Cork Airport cancelled or diverted all morning flights including services to London, Birmingham and Amsterdam.

Shannon Airport operated a Ryanair flight to Tenerife at 7.21am but afternoon Aer Lingus services to and from Heathrow were cancelled.

Vaccination centres in Cork, Kerry and Clare all closed.

Bantry in west Cork suffered the worst of the damage as the one-metre storm surge overwhelmed local flood protection systems.

The west Cork town – which is awaiting a special flood defence scheme – had its town square left under water with 23 premises hit by floods.

The greatest flooding fears were focused on Cork city where low-lying quays again succumbed to the tidal surge from 7am, though there were no reports of property damage.

Met Éireann’s Gerry Murphy said at its height Storm Barra winds raged just below hurricane force offshore.

“Storm Barra was very slow moving which was a key aspect of the storm,” he said.

Mr Murphy said parts of Ireland were hit by very powerful and damaging winds.

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