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People being warned to 'stay away from coastal areas' as Storm Lorenzo approaches

The storm will track across the country, with 20 to 60mm of rain expected.

Updated Oct 3rd 2019, 4:03 PM

PEOPLE ARE BEING warned to stay away from coastal areas today as Storm Lorenzo prepares to make landfall in Ireland this evening. 

A yellow wind warning for the Republic of Ireland is valid until 6pm this evening, with Met Éireann saying that south-easterly winds will reach mean speeds of 50 to 65km/hr with gusts of 90 to 100km/hr. 

An orange level wind warning will be in place for five counties, taking effect from 6pm this evening. This warning applies to Galway, Mayo, Clare, Kerry and Limerick.

From 6pm this evening, the yellow wind warning will remain in place for Cork, Waterford, Tipperary and Wexford. 

The Status Yellow rainfall warning for Connacht, Leinster, Cavan, Monaghan and Donegal which has been in place since 9am today will last until 6am tomorrow morning, bringing spells of heavy rain and potential spot flooding tonight.

Met Éireann has warned that someone died during a Status Orange weather warning last year, so it is important to get the public service message out there.

Speaking at the National Emergency Coordination Group meeting this afternoon, Evelyn Cusack, Met Éireann’s head of forecasting, said the heaviest rain will be in the north and midlands.

The storm will track across the country, with 20 to 60mm of rain expected, she said.

Minister Eoghan Murphy has this afternoon said the primary concern is the west and northwest coast, where there is a threat of wave surges and coastal flooding.

“Extremely high seas are predicted later today and into this evening, with 9pm today being the key time,” Murphy said.

He has warned the public to “stay away from coastal areas”.

It’s not just a question of not being in the sea. Stay away from the shoreline and the coast – stay back, stay high and stay dry. 

In Limerick, one of the counties set to be worst hit by Lorenzo, temporary flood defences have been put in place along the quays and strands as a precaution.

“We do not expect any estuarine flooding based on current predictions,” the council said.

All outpatient appointments and elective surgeries at University Limerick Hospital Group sites will continue as normal today, as hospital management continues to monitor the progress of Lorenzo.

However, ahead of the arrival of the storm, the hospital group has begun discharging as many patients as possible. 

Meanwhile, Galway City Council has installed an inflatable barrier at Spanish Arch in advance of Lorenzo.

20,000 sandbags have been put in place in three locations in the city. Salthill Road and the Seapoint Promenade (from Grattan Road to Blackrock) will be closed from 5pm. 

As a precaution, the council are also closing Rosshill Road from 5pm due to a large number of trees in the area. 

Defence Force troops are in Galway and are on standby to assist. Galway City Council is working with emergency service providers to ensure emergency accommodation is provided to rough sleepers. 

In Kerry, the local emergency group met yesterday and warned of fallen trees, debris on roads and power outages. Radio Kerry also reported that IT Tralee is to close early today due to the storm.

In Cork, the cable car has been suspended.

Mayo County Council issued a flood alert this morning. Clare Bay, Westport, Belmullet and Achill Island are all of concern.

Fallen trees

The Health and Safety Authority has reminded the public that two people lost their lives during Storm Ophelia while cutting and clearing windblown trees.

The most common cause of fatalities is clearing fallen trees and branches using chainsaws, according to the HSA. 

It is warning the public:

  • Only those with appropriate training in the use of chainsaws should operate chainsaws
  • Never work on your own
  • Ensure that bystanders are at a safe distance from cutting activities
  • Wear suitable head and face guard protection
  • Wear a high-visibility jacket, and protective clothing
  • Do not walk or work under unstable windblown trees
  • Tell someone your estimated time of return.

The HSA is advising anyone encountering fallen trees not to try to clear or fell such trees.

Instead, they should contact their local authority who have expert trained crews with specialist equipment to deal with storm damaged and windblown trees.

Any work at height, such as repair of overhead lines or the roofs of farm buildings, should also be undertaken with extreme caution in mind. Repair of roofs should only be done after Storm Lorenzo has been cleared and a risk assessment has been carried out, the HSA warned.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service had advised the public not to visit any national parks, national monuments or nature reserves while the Status Orange warning is in place. 

The following locations will be closed until tomorrow:

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

Travel

Along the west coast, gardaí urged motorists to avoid coastal areas, and to anticipate strong cross winds and hazards such as falling trees when driving.

Commuters have also been warned that they may have to begin their journeys a bit earlier tomorrow as delays are expected.

Very strong winds are predicted which will make driving conditions hazardous, especially for the more vulnerable road users.

Road users have been asked to pay particular attention to the risk posed by fallen trees and flying debris. 

Seas have been rough so far today. The Royal National Lifeboat Institution have advised people to take note of the weather forecast and to stay back, stay dry and stay high from the water. 

If you see someone in difficulty or are concerned about a person close to the water, use marine frequency VHF channel 16 or dial 112 on your phone and ask for the coast guard. 

Water

The HSE has warned that people with private wells and shared water schemes might be impacted due to loss of power or moving flood waters resulting from Storm Lorenzo.

It explained how people’s water supplies might be restricted:

  • If your drinking water becomes contaminated with microorganisms (bugs) or is at risk of being contaminated, a boil water notice may be put on your water supply.
  • This means you will have to boil the water before using it for drinking, brushing teeth, or preparing food and ice.
  • If your drinking water becomes contaminated with chemicals or other substances you may be advised not to drink the water at all.  This is called a do not use notice.
  • If you have a private well and the water changes in smell, taste or colour, it may be a sign that the well has been contaminated. If in any doubt, boil it before using or use an alternative water supply.

Looking ahead, Lorenzo is set to leave the country early Friday morning with tomorrow evening looking set to be dry with some sunshine breaking through.

With reporting by Hayley Halpin Christina Finn and Adam Daly 

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Sean Murray

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