Met Eireann issues Status Red alert ahead of Hurricane Ophelia’s arrival
Hurricane Ophelia will be the most severe weather event to his this country since Hurricane Debbie hit in 1961 – resulting in 15 deaths – Met Eireann has warned.
The forecaster has extended the status red weather warning to three more counties – meaning eight in total are now covered, while the rest of the country is under a status yellow warning.
Galway, Mayo, Clare, Cork and Kerry were given the weather warning yesterday, with Waterford, Wexford and Limerick being added this afternoon.
- Very high winds, flooding and structural damage predicted over next 48 hours
- Forecaster Evelyn Cusack: Weather event almost unprecedented for this country
- ‘People need to take this seriously’ – Minister Simon Coveney
- Status Red warnings extended to three more counties
- Schools told to close, and ESB on alert with winds of more than 130km/h expected Monday
The Department of Education has said it is informing all schools in areas affected by Met Éireann’s status red wind alert that they are to stay closed tomorrow.
The Department said its decision comes “following a special meeting of the Government Task Force on Emergency Planning in response to Ophelia’s imminent arrival”.
In a statement the department said that schools in areas affected by a status orange alert should remain vigilant, and keep themselves appraised of any hourly and other updates from Met Éireann, and from their local authorities, and An Garda Síochána.
They say that in all events, and if in any doubt, schools should err on the side of caution.
School buses will not operate on Monday in the counties where the status red alert is in place.
Bus Éireann said it has cancelled the services to ensure children are not put in any danger.
The Coast Guard is requesting people to avoid any visits or walks to coastal or cliff areas, and wants to remind the public of the dangers of visiting exposed coastal areas.
They are urging people to “Stay Back, Stay High, Stay Dry”.
ASnM will remain closed tomorrow Monday 16th Oct due to Status Red wind warning for Waterford county.
— Ardscoil na Mara (@ArdscoilNaMara) October 15, 2017
Gale force winds, heavy rain, and high seas threaten to cause chaos in the counties from tomorrow morning.
A spokesperson for Met Eireann warned of severe winds and stormy conditions.
They said: “Hurricane Ophelia is expected to transition to a post tropical storm as it approaches our shores on Monday bringing severe winds and stormy condition.
“Mean wind speeds in excess of 80 km/h and gusts in excess of 130km/h are expected, potentially causing structural damage and disruption, with dangerous marine conditions due to high seas and potential flooding.”
The warning is in place until 3am Tuesday morning, October 17.
Schools and childcare facilities have been advised to close, while Bus Eireann has said school bus services will not operate in worst-affected areas.
The National Emergency Coordination Committee met earlier to make preparations for Hurricane Ophelia, with storm force winds and heavy rain expected from tomorrow morning.
Met Éireann told the Committee that it expects the eye of the storm may hit the south coast and then track up along the west coast.
Heavy rain and storm surges may cause flooding in some areas.
Risk of flooding tomorrow (Monday 16th) at time of high tide. Storm barriers are being put in place. Sandbags will be distributed.
— Waterford Council (@WaterfordCounci) October 15, 2017
While this is a dynamic storm system, the track of the Hurricane has been very consistent over the last few days and it is not expected to change course over the next few days.
Met Éireann said that at present, the strongest and most damaging winds are now forecast to affect Munster and south Leinster, particularly the southwest, south and Irish Sea coasts – with the heaviest rainfall accumulations in Connacht, west Ulster and west Munster.
Evelyn Cusack said Met Éireann has taken the unprecedented step of issuing a red alert weather warning.
She said they have been monitoring the track of Hurricane Ophelia along with the National Hurricane centre in Miami, and said Ophelia is currently tracking past the Azores.
She said only 15 storms of this nature have ever been reported within 200 nautical miles of Ireland.
Jim Casey of the OPW said they have issued high surge advisories along coastal areas to all local authorities. He said they were expecting water levels to rise by 0.75m.
He said there was a risk of localised flooding along those coastal areas. Sean Hogan empahsised that people should not expose themselves to danger when when you don’t need to be out.
He said the storm will last three to six hours in any given area.
People working for the emergency services should plan their arrival and departure from work.
The ESB said they are escalating preparedness levels. They said the network is expecting that Ophelia will have an impact on services tomorrow, and have urged the public to stay clear of fallen cables.