Emergency group reiterates plea for people to stay indoors

Two wind-surfers rescued with ‘extremely severe’ conditions expected around country

Seán Hogan, Chairman of the National Emergency Co-ordination Group during a media briefing on Hurricane Ophelia on Kildare Street in Dublin. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Seán Hogan, Chairman of the National Emergency Co-ordination Group during a media briefing on Hurricane Ophelia on Kildare Street in Dublin. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

 

The State’s National Emergency Co-ordination Group has urged people to not take unnecessary risks and to remain indoors on Monday afternoon.

Hurricane Ophelia has hit Ireland with winds of 160km/h already recorded in some parts of the country, according to Met Éireann.

Weather forecaster Evelyn Cusack, told the State’s National Emergency Co-ordination Group that “extremely severe” conditions would batter the country as the day went on.

“The storm has materialised now and is just off the Kerry coastline. The most severe weather we have now is just off Kerry and heading towards Cork.

“Gusts of wind have been recorded of 160km/h. It’s extremely severe conditions across Cork and Kerry at the moment.

“The heaviest of the hurricane winds will be down along the south and east coast of the Irish Sea. As the storm moves along, there’s another extra core going to feed into Co Clare and the west coast of Galway. The estimated time of the secondary core is 3pm.

“That’s why we have extended the status red warning to all areas.” said Ms Cusack.

The Office of Public Works (OPW) said they were monitoring the storm closely as winds picked up across the country.

Jim Casey from the OPW told the co-ordination group they were monitoring the coastline carefully.

“Sea levels may be a metre above normal predicted tides due to a storm surge and that’s a very significant elevation of sea level. The timing of sea level [rises] may vary so local authorities need to pay particular attention,” he said.

Without power

The ESB network said there were at least 220,000 homes and businesses across the country without power. They expect this to rise significantly over the coming hours. The ESB network said that it could take several days to restore power.

Coast Guard and RNLI crews successfully rescued two wind-surfers who found themselves in difficulty off the east coast on Monday morning.

Crews launched a rescue at 10.20am on Monday morning following a Mayday call off the coast of Blackrock, Co Louth.

Rescue 116, Greenore CG and Clogherhead Lifeboat all attended the scene.

Members of the RNLI were also deployed off the Galway coast to recover a yacht, while a tug boat was used to escort two people into Rosslare Harbour, Co Wexford.

Eugene Clonan of the Irish Coast Guard stressed that people should stay away from the coastline and waters.

“I’d like to reiterate for recreational users to stay off the water. This is an unprecedented weather system that we’re going through. We have not experienced this before and we want people to stay safe. We urge people to stay away from the coastline,” Mr Clonan said.

Department of Education officials are meeting to discuss whether schools will reopen on Tuesday, with a decision to be made on Monday afternoon.

Brendan Lawlor from the HSE said all hospital appointments had been cancelled and would be rescheduled.

An Garda Síochána urged people not to make any unnecessary journeys and to stay off the road.

The National Emergency Co-ordination Group is meeting three times each day and will continue to do so.