Dublin-bound passenger ferry shelters off UK after Storm Imogen

Near-hurricane winds cause widespread power blackouts in Cork and Kerry

Storm Imogen brings high waves and strong winds to the Kerry coastline. Video: Gerald Horgan/dinglephoto.com

 

More than 100 passengers on a ferry sailing between France and Ireland were forced to take shelter off the UK coast on Monday after heavy seas and strong winds meant the Irish Ferries ship Epsilon, sailing from Cherbourg to Dublin, had to divert to the north Devon coast.

A spokesman for Irish Ferries said on Monday that the 110 passengers onboard could be delayed even further depending on the outcome of Storm Imogen. An orange level gale warning is in place for Irish Coastal Waters and the Irish Sea.

A status yellow wind warning is currently in operation after Storm Imogen’s near-hurricane winds caused a widespread blackout in parts of Kerry and Cork.

Power crews have been restoring electricity to thousands of homes in the south and south-west after Storm Imogen’s near hurricane winds caused widespread blackouts.

Some of the worst affected areas were rural parts of Kerry and Cork with more than 1,400 homes and businesses in the Macroom area left without electricity and about 1,000 in the Rathmore area at the counties’ border.

An orange level wind warning for Cork and Kerry has ended with a lower yellow level alert in place for Kilkenny, Wexford, Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Tipperary and Waterford until 8pm on Monday. Met Eireann has warned of gusts up to 100km/h.

ESB Networks had reports of power outages in the wake of the storm from more than two dozens locations. At its overnight peak along the south coast, Imogen — the ninth winter Atlantic storm — was bringing hurricane force winds to Sherkin Island off Cork, the Fastnet Rock and the Kinsale gas rigs.

Waves at least 30 feet high were also recorded by Met Éireann’s weather buoys in the Atlantic. Fastnet lighthouse recorded some of the highest winds including sustained hurricane force speeds and gusts of up to 196km/h or 121mph. Met Éireann had forecast that westerly winds would hit average speeds of 65 to 75 km/h with gusts of 100 to 130 km/h and conditions would be strongest along the coast and on hills.

At the height of blackouts about 5,000 homes and businesses were left without power in Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Waterford and Wexford.

In the aftermath of the storm, road users are warned to take care of fallen trees and power lines while people in coastal areas are warned of the dangers of extreme wave heights of up to 45 feet in some parts of the south coast.

Roads in Kerry were being cleared on Monday morning after Storm Imogen brought down trees and debris - including large quantities of general election posters erected in the past few days.

Strong winds with gusts of 130 km battered much of the county through the night. Roads near Killarney were badly affected. Kenmare too saw trees down and in west Kerry the road near Dun an Oir in Ballyferriter was blocked.

The N22 main Killarney to Tralee road has re-opened, the county council said.

In Tipperary on Sunday evening, a man died in a road crash in an incident between Cashel and Horse and Jockey on the main M8 Cork/Dublin road. The M8 Cork/Dublin road remained closed on Monday morning to northbound traffic between J7 Cashel North and J6 Thurles.

An earlier collision on the M7 Limerick/Dublin road northbound between J22 Roscrea and J21 Borris -In-Ossory has been cleared.

Commuters in Dublin experienced delays on Monday morning on the inbound service of the Luas Green Line from Dundrum to St Stephen’s Green due to an incident.

Monday will be cold with temperatures of between 1 and 3 degrees and outbreaks of sleet and snow on hills and mountains in the west, merging to longer spells of rain and sleet across Ulster.

Tuesday will see longer spells of rain but also interludes of drier weather at times. Temperatures on Tuesday will reach between 5 and 7 degrees at best during the afternoon, falling to below freezing overnight.

Winds are forecast to moderate on Wednesday with continuing showers and longer spells of rain. There will be a risk of frost and ice on untreated surfaces on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.

Additional reporting from PA