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Storm Francis: Status Orange alert for 12 counties as 'intense rainfall' expected tonight

ESB Networks is preparing for power outages, with staff on standby to repair faults in all areas.

Counties in the south and west have been issued with a Status Orange rainfall warning.
Counties in the south and west have been issued with a Status Orange rainfall warning.
Image: Met Éireann

Updated Aug 24th 2020, 8:00 PM

MET ÉIREANN HAS issued a Status Orange rainfall warning for 12 counties, after earlier issuing a Status Yellow rainfall warning for the whole country.

The new period of wet weather – dubbed Storm Francis – will bring “intense rainfall” tonight and into tomorrow, the forecaster said.

Valid from 9pm tonight until 5pm tomorrow, the Status Orange warning applies to all counties in Connacht, and also Cavan, Monaghan, Donegal, Waterford, Wexford, Cork and Kerry.

In these counties, accumulations of 40 to 60mm are expected – which may be higher again in some mountainous areas. 

“The most intense rainfall is expected to ease off in southern counties during Tuesday morning,” Met Éireann said. “Some flash flooding likely.

“This rainfall will further elevate river levels and may result in river flooding also.”

A Status Yellow rainfall warning applies to the rest of the country, and will also take effect from 9pm tonight. 

A Status Yellow wind warning has also been issued for Munster, Dublin, Carlow, Kilkenny, Wexford and Wicklow. 

That warning kicks in at 6am and will remain valid until 7pm tomorrow. 

Met Éireann has warned “very windy or stormy conditions are expected” tomorrow as Storm Francis crosses the country. 

Southwest winds are due to reach mean speeds of 55 to 65km/h, with widespread gusts of 90 to 110km/h. 

The UK Met Office has also issued a Yellow rainfall warning for counties in Northern Ireland. 

Ahead of those warnings, it will be dry across most areas today with some sunny spells and some scattered showers. Highest temperatures will be between 16 and 19 degrees Celsius.

Over the next few days, Met Éireann said that weather will stay unsettled, but that the weekend will bring “drier and quieter conditions”.

Safety messages

The National Directorate of Fire and Emergency Management (NDFEM) Crisis Management Team met this morning to assess the updated forecast regarding the storm. 

In a statement this afternoon, it warned that trees are in full leaf, with the potential for a number of trees to fall, blocking roads and damaging power lines. 

NDFEM issued the following safety messages this afternoon: 

  • This is an unusual storm for August – people should take account of Met Éireann weather warnings affecting their location. 
  • People are on holidays at coastal locations. Stay away from all coastal areas for the duration of the warnings. 
  • All road users should be aware of the hazardous travelling conditions. Motorists should slow down and be aware of the dangers of fallen trees and debris. High sided vehicles are particularly vulnerable during this time. 
  • As conditions will vary, people need to take account of the local conditions and advice from their local authority. 

ESB Networks is also preparing for power outages, with staff on standby to repair faults in all areas. 

NDFEM is also warning that it is critical that people never touch or approach fallen wires and to stay safe and clear of fallen or damaged electrical wires.

People can contact the ESB on 1850 372 999. 

Cork preparations

Cork County Council has response crews and contractors on standby for the approaching storm. 

The council said crews have also been working to remove debris from grates and culverts following the recent period of adverse weather, which resulted in large amounts of debris being washed into shores and grates. 

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Cork County Council expects the impact to include fallen trees and flash flooding, particularly given current ground saturation levels, as well as possible structural damage from high winds.

Members of the public are advised to stay high, stay dry and stay away from the coast, rivers and lakes. With strong gusts and high waves predicted, people are urged to refrain from visiting coastal areas.

Property owners, residents and visitors are advised to take necessary precautions for this dangerous weather event, to protect property, to avoid unnecessary journeys and stay indoors during the warning periods.

Following recent weather events, trees have been weakened and remain susceptible to further damage. Landowners are asked to examine trees within their property for damage.

Those camping or in caravans are asked to seek alternative accommodation indoors, as temporary structures are particularly at risk. Extra precaution should be taken to secure caravans, camping equipment and any other loose items.

Park closures

The National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS) has announced that a number of national parks and nature reserves will be temporarily closed due to the weather warnings. 

Those locations are as follows: 

  • Connemara National Park, Co Galway
  • Derryclare Nature Reserve, Co Galway
  • Knockma Wood, near Tuam, Co Galway
  • Laughil Wood, near Pontoon, Co Mayo
  • Old Head Nature Reserve, Co Mayo
  • Wild Nephin, Ballycroy National Park, Co Mayo
  • The Raven Nature Reserve, Co Wexford

The NPWS is asking the public for their “ongoing cooperation on this matter by not entering these sites for the duration of these weather warnings”. 

With reporting from Seán Murray and Stephen McDermott

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