East coast could be hit by worst of gales today

Wed, Jan 4, 2012, 00:00

MET ÉIREANN has warned that strong winds are likely to sweep across parts of the country again today after storm force gales left hundreds of properties without electricity last night.

Communities along northern and northwestern coasts were hardest hit by the winds – which peaked at 168km/h in Co Donegal and also exceeded 100km/h in the west and east of the country.

The weather caused disruption to power supplies in parts of Dublin, Kerry, the midlands, Wexford and Galway as trees were uprooted and power and telephone lines were damaged.

Some flights and ferry crossings were cancelled as a result of the high winds and a number of roads were blocked by fallen debris.

The ESB said 20,000 properties had been affected by temporary power cuts yesterday, with most occurring in the northwest.

ESB staff were last night working to restore power to 500 customers, with the majority located along the western seaboard.

The public has been asked to contact the ESB’s emergency number on 1850-372999 if they come across fallen power lines.

A further 10,000 homes and businesses were affected in the North as Northern Ireland Electricity reported up to 500 faults on its network, with Coleraine, Ballymoney and Bangor among the hardest-hit areas.

Eircom said repair crews were working to address 5,000 faults reported on its network in recent days as a result of wind and rain.

The strongest gust of 168km/h was recorded at Malin Head, Co Donegal, early yesterday morning while wind speeds of more than 100km/h were recorded at Belmullet, Co Mayo, and Dublin airport, Met Éireann said.

Forecaster Siobhán Ryan said the “hurricane force” wind speed recorded at Malin Head was “exceptional” and ranked among the highest winds in Ireland that she could remember.

Ms Ryan said the gusts may have been caused by a “sting jet” – a rarely occurring surge of high-momentum, high-energy air which appears like a curling scorpion’s tail on weather maps.

The strong winds were expected to ease last night with the depression which brought them moving on towards Scotland and Scandinavia.

However, Ms Ryan said wind speeds were expected to pick up again this afternoon – but not to the same extent as yesterday – for about 18 hours and could reach speeds of 90-120km/h in some areas.

She said the east coast and Dublin were likely to “bear the brunt” of the west and northwest winds today. These would be sustained but would not be as strong as those experienced yesterday.

An Garda Síochána and the Road Safety Authority have urged motorists to take care on the roads while the windy conditions persist.

Road Safety Authority chief executive Noel Brett said yesterday: “I would ask each and every one of you to allow extra time to reach your destination, keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front and adjust your speed in windy or wet conditions.”

Around The Country


AIR AND ferry passengers in Dublin were disrupted while motorists in the midlands experienced dangerous conditions due to the weather yesterday.

Storm-force gusts of more than 100km/h were recorded in some parts of the capital yesterday with gale-force winds forecast for today.

Irish Ferries has cancelled this morning’s 8.45am Jonathan Swift fast sailing from Dublin to Holyhead, and its return. Passengers will be accommodated on the 8.05am and 8.55pm Ulysses cruise services. Irish Ferries cancelled two fast ferries from Dublin to Holyhead yesterday.

There were flight cancellations and delays on at least a dozen flights between Dublin airport and the UK yesterday.

Motorists were also delayed by difficult road conditions due to high winds, fallen trees and other debris across Dublin and the midlands. Fallen trees blocked many roads for a time yesterday, including Shrewsbury Road in Dublin, the road between Lucan and Clonee and at Confey, Co Kildare.

Debris caused delays last evening on the M50 southbound between Lucan and the Red Cow interchange. The road between Abbeyleix, Co Laois, and Carlow was also blocked. There were high winds in Co Meath where a car went off the road on the M4 eastbound between junction 10 Kinnegad East and junction 9 Enfield. There were no reports of serious injury.

The ESB worked to repair power outages in Dublin and the midlands, with particular problems in Mountrath, Co Laois. GENEVIEVE CARBERY


THOUSANDS OF euro worth of damage was caused when the roofs of a number of traditional thatched cottages in west Donegal were blown away by yesterday’s storm. The cottages at Cruit Island are a popular rental choice for holidaying families. They are close to a number of well-known beaches and are close to singer Daniel O’Donnell’s home.

Donegal and Sligo were hit by a force 11 storm, with winds gusting up to more than 170km/h. A rare meteorological phenomenon called a “sting jet”, so called for the scorpion tail shape of the cloud it comes from, struck Malin Head, creating a gust of up to 172km/h.

A spokesman for Met Éireann said they are almost certain a sting jet was responsible for yesterday’s rapid gusts of wind in Donegal: “We have seen them before but the are very unusual over Ireland. We are almost certain that a sting jet was responsible for these winds.”

ESB workmen were out for most of the day attempting to restore power to homes in the region.

Malin Head Coast Guard Radio station described the winds as “hurricane force”. Station officer Patsy Canning issued a warning to people not to take any chances.

“The winds are very strong and we would ask people not to go near the coastline or put themselves in danger,” he said.

Drivers were warned to take extra care due to falling trees. There were reports of trees down in many parts of Donegal, including Ramelton, St Johnston, Convoy and Creeslough. STEPHEN MAGUIRE


NEW YEAR storms have claimed a rare tree which was planted by the creator of Connemara’s Kylemore Abbey almost a century and a half ago. Staff at the abbey were “heartbroken” yesterday at the weather felling of the Cupressus macrocarpa, an exotic pine which had grown to almost 20m in height.

The tree had been planted by Mitchell Henry around 1870. Henry had built the castle between 1867 and 1871 as a fairytale home for his wife Margaret.

“The rare pine was one of a very few of the same type, but in very shallow soil, which made it vulnerable,” Brid O’Connell of the abbey management team said yesterday. “It is the end of an era in that sense, given its links to Mr Henry, and everyone is very sad to see it go.”

Meanwhile, up to 500 customers across Co Galway were without electricity yesterday due to storm- force winds overnight. Ballinasloe in east Galway and the Derrybrien area of the Slieve Aughty mountains were worst affected.

Ballinasloe was also without water when a large tree hit a water main at Creagh junction. Hundreds of trees fell throughout the west, and both gardaí and the AA warned motorists of potential hazards. LORNA SIGGINS


STRONG OVERNIGHT winds saw fallen trees and debris in many parts of Kerry yesterday, with the Castleisland and Tralee areas worst affected. Roads were blocked near Brosna and Castleisland.

About 150 houses had power outages near Tralee but power was quickly restored by ESB crews. A chimney collapsed in Tralee town and strong winds resulted in debris in Killarney town. Minor flooding was reported in much of south Kerry and Killarney.

Meanwhile, Cork appeared to escape relatively lightly with few reports of major disruption in either the city or county. According to Cork City Fire Brigade, they did receive a number of reports of fallen trees in the Carrigaline area but it is understood they were quickly cleared. ANNE LUCEYand BARRY ROCHE


UP TO 10,000 homes and businesses in Northern Ireland were left without electricity as storms of almost 130km/h battered the North. Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE) reported up to 500 faults in its network, with the north coast and Down coast the hardest hit. Coleraine, Ballymoney and Bangor all experienced power outages throughout the day.

An amber warning was issued by the Met Office and the gales reached their peak between 5am and 7am yesterday. A wind speed of 120km/h was recorded in Castlederg, Co Tyrone.

Traffic was disrupted across the North, with dozens of roads across the region forced to closed. Roads in Belfast, Derry, Omagh and Coleraine were among those blocked by trees. Bus and train services were also affected. The Rathlin ferry was cancelled, while the ferry sailings between Larne and Cairnryan were cancelled yesterday morning, but resumed in the afternoon.

The Foyle Bridge in Derry was closed during the day, while in Enniskillen the roof of an Asda store was extensively damaged, forcing the supermarket to close.

NIE said it was assessing the damage caused and devising a plan to restore those areas without power. SCOTT JAMISON