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Storm Barra: Red wind warning for Cork, Clare and Kerry as forecasters predict 130km/h gusts

Schools and colleges have been closed across 12 counties because of the approaching storm.

The red warning for Cork and Kerry will be in place from 6am until 9pm tomorrow.
The red warning for Cork and Kerry will be in place from 6am until 9pm tomorrow.
Image: Shutterstock/Alexandru Cristian Ciobanu

Updated Dec 6th 2021, 9:04 PM

THE TAOISEACH HAS warned that tomorrow will be a “very, very difficult day” in many parts of the country as Storm Barra barrels towards Ireland.

A status red wind warning has been issued for counties Cork, Clare and Kerry tomorrow. Orange warnings have been issued for Limerick, Waterford, Galway, Mayo, Wexford, Dublin, Louth, Wicklow and Meath.

The Department of Education has advised schools across the 12 counties not to open tomorrow because of the approaching storm.

Universities, colleges and further education facilities covered by the Red and Orange wind warnings have also been advised not to open tomorrow.

Creches and all other early learning institutions in orange and red counties have been told to stay shut as well.

A spokesperson for the Department of Children said: “Met Éireann has advised that there is a strong possibility that the status of parts of these counties currently in status orange are likely to change and escalate to status red.

“Due to the significant nature of Storm Barra, as forecast by Met Éireann and to give sufficient notice to early learning and care and school age childcare services and parents/guardians, the Department is advising that all early learning and care and school-age childcare services covered by the Red Alert and Orange warning from Met Éireann should not open tomorrow on December 7.”

The HSE has also said some interruptions to its service are “unavoidable”. 

“Some HSE services will be closed with appointments cancelled.  Our priority is the safety of the public and of our staff, and we are focusing on keeping essential, life-saving services available in the parts of the country worst affected. This means that many other appointments may be cancelled, in the interests of the safety of the general public and of our staff,” a spokesperson said. 

Disruptions to HSE hospital and community services, Covid test and vaccination centres, school immunisations, BreastCheck, community day services are affected, mainly along the south and west of the county.

A Status Yellow wind warning has been issued for the rest of the country.

Met Éireann advised that there is a strong possibility that some of the counties that are currently in status orange may be upgraded to status red.

The Taoiseach urged people to stay at home unless necessary.

“It’s very important that we get the message out there to the public at large, that we are dealing with a very, very serious storm in Storm Barra, tomorrow and right into Wednesday.

People must avoid the coast at all costs, there will be localised flooding. And in those counties, where we have strong orange or red alerts, travel should be kept to a minimum.

Met Éireann said the weather warnings for Cork and Kerry will be in place from 6am on Tuesday until 9pm as Storm Barra arrives, bringing “severe and damaging wind gusts” across the country. 

The red warning in Clare is currently set to be in place from 4pm tomorrow until 1am on Wednesday. An orange warning will then be in place in the Banner county until 6am on Wednesday.

Coastal flooding is expected in the three counties due to a combination of high waves, storm surge and high tide. There will also likely be disruptions to power and travel.  

A number of flights arriving and departing from Cork Airport tomorrow have been cancelled.

Orange wind warnings have also been issued for counties Limerick, Waterford, Galway, Mayo and Wexford from 6am tomorrow until 6am on Wednesday. Winds are expected to reach mean speeds of 65 to 80 km/hr and severe or damaging gusts of up to 130 km/hr.

A Status Orange wind warning has also been issued for Dublin, Louth, Wicklow and east Meath from 8am until 1pm tomorrow. 

A Status Yellow wind and rain warning will be in place for the entire country from 2am on Tuesday until 6pm on Wednesday. 

Weather bomb

Head of forecasting at Met Éireann Evelyn Cusack said the type of storm currently forming and heading towards Ireland is described in the US as a “weather bomb”. 

“Countrywide, it’s going to be very bad tomorrow morning everywhere, with heavy rain and driving southeasterly winds,” Cusack told RTÉ radio’s News at One. 

She said it will turn sunny in parts later in the day as the centre of the storm “begins to fan out”, with winds possibly calming in the midlands as the red warning remains in place in Cork and Kerry. 

But later tomorrow evening, the storm will push back into the west of the country. Conditions will be variable throughout the day, Cusack said, with potential for snow for a few hours in Donegal and the north-west of the country tomorrow morning. 

The chair of the National Emergency Coordination Group Keith Leonard said there will be “very dangerous conditions” in coastal areas tomorrow. 

He advised people in Cork and Kerry to stay indoors before the red warning takes effect, and to remain inside during the course of the warning. 

He said people should still only travel if necessary in times of orange weather warnings.

Aoife Kealy, a meteorologist at Met Éireann, said strongest winds will be experienced across southern and western areas. 

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“Driving conditions will be tricky and dangerous at times, with the risk of fallen trees, fallen power lines and flooding from the heavy rain,” Kealy said.

“Temporary outdoor structures will be particularly vulnerable to the expected wind gusts.”

She said the storm will gradually move eastwards away from Ireland on Wednesday afternoon. Wednesday will still be windy but it will gradually ease. Thursday and Friday will be improved, but there will still be patches of rain. 

Health service

The HSE has closed services and cancelled appointments in several counties because of the storm.

Covid-19 vaccination centres in Clare, Cork, Galway, Kerry, Leitrim, Mayo and Sligo will not be operating.

Test centres in Cork and Kerry are also cancelled along with BreastCheck appointments in Kerry, Limerick, Tipperary and Waterford.

Marine warnings

A Status Red storm warning is also in place from Roche’s Point to Valentia to Erris Head from 7am tomorrow until midnight.

A Status Orange storm warning is also in place from Erris Head to Strangford Lough to Roche’s Point and on the Irish Sea from 4am tomorrow until midnight. 

There is also a Status Yellow gale warning from Roche’s Point to Valentia to Erris Head. 

Met Éireann said there will be very strong winds and spells of heavy rain across Ireland as the storm arrives.

In anticipation of the arrival of Storm Barra, the National Emergency Coordination group conducted a virtual meeting with Met Éireann, the Office of Public Works, local authority severe weather assessment teams and government departments and agencies yesterday.

The department said all local authorities have activated their crisis management teams and coordination groups, while coastal flood defences are being put in place.

With reporting from Céimin Burke and Garreth MacNamee

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