Barra down hatches  | 

Status Red alert expected for some counties as Storm Barra heads for Ireland

Kerry is expected to be upgraded to a Status Red alert

Met Eireann has said gusts of wind could reach 130km/h or higher.

Ralph Riegel and Ciara O'Loughlin

Weather forecasters are expecting to upgrade Storm Barra to a Status Red alert for some counties in the south-west of the country.

Such is the concern over Storm Barra that weather experts said winds could potentially reach Status Red levels – meaning they pose a possible risk to life.

According to Met Éireann’s Evelyn Cusack, forecasters are assessing the scale of the storm and a potential upgrade of the warning to Status Red in Kerry is expected shortly.

The potential fury of Storm Barra has prompted a warning to motorists in five counties to only undertake necessary journeys on Tuesday, while householders and businesses in coastal areas stretching from Galway to Cork were warned to take precautions against storm surge-related flooding.

The second Atlantic storm of the season could see wind gusts of up to 130kmh as a Status Red warning was issued for all maritime craft from Mizen Head to Loop Head and Slyne Head.

Ireland's fishing fleet has already started to flee to port ahead of the arrival of Storm Barra.

The storm is expected to make landfall on Ireland's west coast from 6am - and Met Éireann warned winds and heavy rainfall could last for up to 24 hours.

Major concern is also focused on the potential storm surge - with a severe risk of coastal flooding in exposed parts of the west and south west.

The storm surge flooding concern is centred on Galway, Limerick and Cork.

Cork City Council warned city centre residents and traders of the risk posed by flooding if the storm surge coincides with high tide.

The most vulnerable areas as the city centre quays - and people were urged not to leave their cars parked overnight in vulnerable quay areas.

A Status Orange Alert will be in place from 6am for Galway, Clare, Cork, Kerry and Limerick - with those western and south western counties expected to bear the brunt of Storm Barra.

Council chiefs in all five Status Orange counties have staged emergency meetings to assess the potential impact of the storm and to ensure all precautionary preparations are taken.

All five have triggered their Crisis Management Teams while local coordination groups are now working to assess defence mechanisms in the most vulnerable coastal areas.

A Status Yellow warning will apply to the rest of Ireland including Dublin but these could also be potentially upgraded.

All warnings will remain in place until 6am on Wednesday.

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Gardaí and the Road Safety Authority (RSA) urged people in the five most severely impacted counties to only undertake necessary journeys on Tuesday.

Greatest concern is focused on the potential threat posed by falling trees.

Wind gusts could reach 130kmh while sustained wind speeds of up to 80kmh are likely in many areas.

Such is the risk of property damage that householders in the five Status Orange counties have been urged to secure all garden furniture and stand-alone exterior Christmas decorations.

Water Safety Ireland and the Irish Coast Guard urged people to stay away from coastal areas given the danger posed by severe wind gusts and stormy seas.

People have been especially warned not to approach exposed coastal areas to take photographs of the storm.

Met Éireann's Liz Walsh said Storm Barra will not be speedily resolved with winds and stormy seas likely to last for 24 hours or longer.

"There will be storm force winds in places, high seas and coastal flooding as well as heavy, squally falls of rain," she said.

"There will also be some transient falls of sleet and snow in the north west."

She said the damaging winds will mostly pose a serious risk of bringing down trees - with major caution by the public required as a result.

ESB have emergency repair crews on standby but warned the public that they will only be deployed when it is safe to do so.

People were urged not to approach power lines brought down by fallen trees.

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"If there are fallen or damaged wires, keep clear and phone ESB Networks immediately on 1800-372999," a spokesperson said.

Speaking this morning, forecaster Liz Walsh told RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland that the storm will be “quite longwinded”.

“Storm Barra will start to impact Ireland at around 6am tomorrow, it will actually be quite longwinded as it will last all the way through Tuesday and into Wednesday night,” .

“Worst affected looks to be those western coastal counties, Galway down to Cork in particular will be worst affected, certainly Kerry and West Cork will have potential to have even higher gusts that the orange level currently in place.

“The impacts are going to vary depending on your location, it is going to be extremely windy everywhere tomorrow not just in the western coastal counties, Dublin and Leinster will also get a fair whack of winds and certainly well into the yellow warning criteria which is gusts of 90-110km, which is not to be sniffed at, at any stretch of the imagination.

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“But currently the western counties will be even higher, orange level with gusts of 110-130km and the red level you are in excess of that.”

Ms Walsh said impacts will vary depending on location, but no one should make unnecessary journeys.

“So impacts vary depending on location but they will include high winds, high seas with coastal flooding, heavy falls of rain and some transient falls of sleet and snow in the north west of the country,” she said.

“[There will be] trees down, structural damage, so secure any outdoor furniture, especially businesses that have outdoor furniture for Covid and Christmas decorations and there will be disruption to travel as well as hazardous driving conditions so we would recommend not to make unnecessary journeys tomorrow.”

“It’s coming in like a freight train on Tuesday morning,” Met Eireann forecaster Liz Walsh told Independent.ie last night.

“There will be pulses of strong winds everywhere. It’s going to be a sustained period of strong winds throughout the day,” she said.


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