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Storm Eunice: Status Red alerts for four counties tomorrow as Met Éireann upgrades warnings

Status Orange warnings have also been issued for counties across Munster, Leinster and Connacht.

Coastal flooding is expected
Coastal flooding is expected
Image: AP/Press Association

Updated Feb 17th 2022, 7:50 PM

RED AND ORANGE weather warnings have been issued across the country as Ireland braces for the arrival of Storm Eunice tonight.

Met Éireann is forecasting severe conditions across the country tomorrow due to very strong winds, heavy rain and snow, with gusts of up to 130km/h.

A Status Red wind warning has been issued by Met Éireann for Cork, Clare, Kerry and Waterford, effective from tonight, when the storm is expected to pose a risk to life.

The warning in Clare, Cork and Kerry will be valid from 3am to 8am Friday morning, and the warning for Waterford will be valid from 7am until 11am. 

People are advised to stay indoors during those hours, when fallen trees, dangerous driving conditions and damaged power lines are expected.

A Status Orange snow warning has also been issued for Donegal, Leitrim, Sligo, Mayo and Roscommon.

People in these counties can expect heavy sleet and snow leading to “blizzard-like conditions” with treacherous driving conditions. The warning will be in place from 3am to 3pm Friday.

Schools will be closed in the seven counties impacted by both the Red wind warning and Orange snow warning.

An Orange wind warning has also been issued for all other counties in Munster as well as Galway, Dublin, Carlow, Kilkenny, Wexford, Wicklow, Laois and Kildare. The warning will be in place from 3am to 11am tomorrow.

Wind speeds in these counties are expected to reach mean speeds of 65 to 80 km/h with gusts up to 130 km/h. Some coastal flooding, especially at high tide, is expected. 

This will be higher in exposed areas and there is also a possibility of coastal flooding.

A Status Yellow wind, rain and snow warning is in place for the rest of the country.

The National Emergency Co-ordination Group (NECG) met earlier today to discuss Ireland’s response to Storm Eunice.

The panel, which brings together officials from the Office of Public Works, Met Éireann Gardaí, the Defence Forces and Coast the Guard, issued an update this afternoon.

Evelyn Cusack, the Head of Forecasting at Met Éireann said that Storm Eunice was a “very powerful storm”.

“It’s going to be a multi-hazard warning and very, very, very variable from place to place,” she said.

Cusack said that while the forecaster will receive further weather modelling soon, she doesn’t expect to see a major change in the current warnings in place.

“We will have some further Met Éireann modelling through the afternoon but we expect it to be there or thereabouts, as you can see it now on our webpage,” she continued.

“We may make some refinements but we don’t expect overall a huge change.”

The update provided by the NECG also highlighted that gritting teams across the country are prepared and have adequate supplies of salt to deal with any parts of the country that are hit with sustained snowfall.

In the UK, a red weather warning has been issued for the coastline of Devon, Cornwall and Somerset as well as the south coast of Wales from 7am until 12pm on Friday.

A red weather warning is the highest level of alert in the UK, with the UK Met Office saying that there is a risk of “flying debris resulting in danger to life” and “damage to buildings and homes, with roofs blown off and power lines brought down”.

 

Travel advice

This afternoon, the Department of Education announced that schools in seven counties – those affected by orange snow and red wind warnings – will close tomorrow.

The Department of Transport also said it is engaging with public transport operators to ensure that they are ready for the storm.

In particular, the department is engaging with ferry operators due to the hazardous conditions on Irish waters.

Due to the Status Red warning in Cork and Kerry, Bus Éireann will not operate any bus services in the two counties for the duration of the warning.

Rail services will continue to run in all counties, but customers are being advised to check @Irishrail on Twitter for local updates.

“We will be monitoring lines, including early morning checks, especially on Red and Orange alert areas, and there may be delays arising from reduced speeds in Red areas,” said a spokesperson for Iarnród Éireann.

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) has urged road users to be cautious while on roads over the next several days, due to the Red and Orange weather warnings.

The RSA has also advised people to be wary of potentially hazardous conditions after the storm has passed, including flooded roads or downed power lines.

“When the extreme weather passes road users will still have to contend with potentially hazardous road conditions such as flooded roads and downed pylons, lines, trees, branches, and other debris which could block roads,” said the RSA in a statement.

Road closures or diversions will be put in place by either Local Authorities or the Gardaí.

During the storm, the RSA has advised that road users in Red warning counties do not travel at all until after the storm has passed, while road users in Orange warning areas are asked to consider postponing their journey until after the storm has passed.

Motorists are advised to consider:

  • That control of a vehicle may be affected by strong cross winds, especially on exposed routes such as dual carriageways and motorways.
  • 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.

HSE services

The HSE has set up a webpage to provide local information on service availability during Storm Eunice tomorrow.

According to the HSE, updates will be provided county by county and will detail the services that are in operation and those that are not.

The National Ambulance Service will remain in operation throughout the country tomorrow, and will be prioritising emergency calls during the storm.

The HSE have urged people to think carefully before calling, and have said that the National Ambulance Service’s response may be hindered by road conditions and local factors.

“Personnel will do their utmost to reach those in greatest need of our emergency services,” said a HSE spokesperson.

Park closures

National Parks across the country will be closed tomorrow due to Storm Eunice, with the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage asking people to not visit the sites until they reopen.

According to the Department, they expect most of the parks to reopen on Saturday, with inspections set to be carried out after the storm tomorrow to assess any damage.

“We ask all members of the public when accessing these sites after Storm Eunice has passed to exercise caution and be aware that hazards such as fallen trees, hanging branches, damaged trails, flooded areas and other storm damage may be present,” said the Department in a statement.

The following parks will be closed:

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Closed parks Source: The Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage

Water and power

Irish Water has said that ahead of Storm Eunice, crews are on standby to tackle any issues arising with water supplies across the country.

According to Tom Cuddy, Irish Water’s head of Operations, there are expectations that a lot of checkups will be carried out by crews at Irish Water sites throughout the country this weekend

The main concern for Irish Water, according to Cuddy, is power failures and the impact that it may have on pumping sites.

“Irish Water has implemented its emergency response processes in advance of Storm Eunice and is working closely with National Emergency Co-ordination Committee, Local Authorities and other partners to co-ordinate the national response and to ensure that the risk to service interruption as a result of the storm is minimised,” said Cuddy in a statement.

“We would like to assure our customers that we will be working as a matter of priority to restore any supplies impacted by the storm as quickly as possible, once it is safe to do so”

He advised people to keep track of local water outages through the @IWCare Twitter account, and on www.water.ie.

The ESB have warned that people should be careful of fallen wires following Storm Eunice tomorrow, saying that it was critical that people remain safe.

Earlier today, following Storm Dudley, there were several thousand homes without power. As of this evening, however, a majority of them have been resolved.

It is expected that after midnight tonight rain and sleet will become widespread with falls of snow, especially in Connacht and Ulster. 

Munster, southeast Leinster and western counties will be faced with stormy conditions overnight before being hit with severe and damaging gusts as extremely strong southwest winds become northwesterly.

There will be a risk of coastal flooding at high tide early on Friday morning with the lowest temperatures ranging from 0 to 4 degrees.

- Additional reporting by Tadgh McNally and Press Association

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