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Storm Jorge: Status Red warning for Galway and Clare, orange warning extended to rest of country

A ‘full crisis’ response has been put in place to deal with ongoing flooding ahead of the arrival of the storm.

Image: Met Eireann

Updated Feb 28th 2020, 10:37 PM

A STATUS RED wind warning has been issued for counties Galway and Clare and an orange wind warning has been extended to the entire country ahead of the arrival of Storm Jorge.

The red warning will be in place from 1pm until 4pm on Saturday. The orange warning will be in place from 6am on Saturday until 3am on Sunday for counties along the western seaboard. It will expire at 7pm on Saturday for the rest of the country.

The wind warnings have been issued by Met Éireann which said the storm will bring “very severe winds” ranging in speeds between 85 to 100 km/h with gusts of 130 to 145 km/h in Galway and Clare tomorrow.

Gusts will hit 130 km/h in other parts of the country and possibly higher in very exposed areas. The powerful winds will bring an elevated risk of flooding in coastal areas.

A status yellow rainfall warning is also in place for Munster, Connacht and Donegal.

Red warnings are used to alert people that rare and very dangerous weather conditions are forecast. People in the affected areas are advised to take action to protect themselves and their property.

Orange warnings are to notify people that the weather may pose a threat to life and yellow warnings urge people to be aware that they may be exposed to dangerous conditions.

A Status Red gale warning is in place on Irish coastal waters that Met Éireann saying this is due to potential storm force 10 or 11 winds. 

The National Emergency Coordination Group (NECG) met in Dublin this morning as part of the ongoing response to the flooding in various parts of the country.

Speaking after the NECG meeting this afternoon,  Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Eoghan Murphy said: “A full crisis response has been in place in many parts of the country, protecting life and protecting property.”

With the coming storm conditions things will worsen over the weekend, however. Storm force 10 winds are going to be in coastal areas tomorrow. So in coastal areas, people need to stay back, stay high and stay dry. We’re also going to see stormy conditions on land across the country and snowfall in places as well as thunderstorms, damaging gusts are possible anywhere. This means that trees could be down anywhere.

“Met Éireann will be updating and possibly escalating their warnings later on this afternoon,” Murphy added.

Park closures

A number of National Parks and Nature Reserves will be closed due to the wind warnings.

These are:

  • Connemara National Park
  • Wild Nephin Ballycroy National Park
  • Derryclare Nature Reserve
  • Old Head Nature Reserve
  • Knochma Wood, near Tuam, Co. Galway
  • Laughil Wood, near Pontoon, Co. Mayo
  • Killarney House and Gardens, Co. Kerry
  • Muckross House, Co. Kerry
  • Coole/Garryland Nature Reserve
  • Dromore Woods Nature Reserve, Co. Clare
  • Burren National Park

The National Parks and Wildlife Service is asking people to avoid the wooded areas of Killarney National Park in particular and to exercise caution in other areas of the park.

People are asked to not visit the Wicklow Mountains National Park or the following nature reserves while the warning is in place.

  • Wicklow – Knocksink Wood, Glen of the Down, Deputy’s Pass, Clara Vale, Tomnafinogue Wood
  • Wexford – The Raven Wood, Wexford Wildfowl Reserve
  • Kilkenny  – Ballykeefe Wood, Kyledohir, Garryricken Wood
  • Laois – Grantstown Wood and Lake, Coolacurragh Wood,  Clonaslee Wood 

Flooding

“So the risks continue with flooding this weekend but they are also now there for coastal areas as those risks of trees down and risks of power outages as well. Public safety in all this is key, we’re asking the public to monitor Met Éireann alerts on a regular basis and to monitor their local conditions and travelling may be difficult due to local flooding in particular.

Gardaí are urging motorists to “reassess their plans this weekend” and to decide if their journey is “absolutely necessary”. If a journey is deemed necessary the advice is to ensure that your journey is planned in advance and that others are aware of your route. 

The ESB has said that 1,700 workers are on standby to prepare for power outages and has warned people to “stay safe and stay clear” of any downed trees or power lines. 

Speaking earlier this morning, Chair of NECG Keith Leonard said the group has met daily to assist local authorities in assessing flood damage after significant flooding in parts of the country over the past few weeks, especially in the Midlands. 

Leonard said conditions will be “very hazardous” in parts of the country this weekend and urged people to follow advice issued by local authorities. 

Met Éireann has said that several of its recording stations have this as the wettest February on record. 

In a statement this afternoon the emergency coordination group said that the storm will make conditions very difficult for responders dealing with flooding in parts of the country.

The Defence Forces, Civil Defence and Community Welfare Officers are all ready to assist in the response to the storm.

Local authorities have also activated their crisis management teams and the ESB is ready to mobilise teams to restore power to affected areas once the impact of the storm is known.

Warning to motorists

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) is warning road users in areas affected by the weather warnings to check local traffic and weather conditions before setting out on a journey. 

It has issued the following advice to motorists: 

  • Control of a vehicle may be affected by strong crosswinds. High sided vehicles and motorcyclists are particularly vulnerable to strong winds.
  • Beware of objects being blown onto the road. Expect road conditions to change quickly in high winds so reduce your speed.
  • Watch out for falling/fallen debris on the road and vehicles veering across the road.
  • Drivers should allow extra space between themselves and vulnerable road users, such as cyclists and motorcyclists as they may be blown off course by strong winds.
  • Drivers need to slow down in wet weather conditions, especially on high speed roads such as dual carriageways and motorways where there is increased danger of aquaplaning.
  • If the road ahead is flooded choose another route, do not attempt to drive through it. Flooded roads that appear shallow could be deeper than you think. They may also have trees or branches that have fallen that may not be visible.
  • Road users should always follow recommended routes and obey signs closing roads to traffic.
  • After going through water, drive slowly with your foot on the brake pedal for a short distance – this helps to dry the brakes.
  • Drive with dipped headlights at all times.

Pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists are being warned to “keep safe by making sure you can be seen” and to wear bright clothing with reflective armbands or a reflective belt. 

They are being asked to take extra care when crossing the road or cycling in extremely windy conditions as “a sudden gust of wind could blow you into the path of an oncoming vehicle.

Pedestrians are being advised to walk on a footpath, where possible and not in the street.

“If there is a footpath and it is safe to use, look out for falling debris from above, especially in urban areas,” the RSA said. 

“Walk on the right-hand side of the road, facing traffic if there are no footpaths,” it added. 

Cyclists are being asked to ensure that they and their bike are visible to other road users by investing in a good set of front and rear lights and by wearing clothes that help them be seen. 

The Government yesterday it would provide financial and humanitarian support for property owners and small businesses which have been affected.

- With reporting by Christina Finn, Rónán Duffy, Céimin Burke, Hayley Halpin and Orla Dwyer

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