New storm could strike this weekend, says Met Éireann

Storm Ali moves away from Irish coast after leaving almost 200,000 without power

More than 186,000 people are without power and motorists are advised to take "extreme caution" as Storm Ali hits Ireland.

 

Met Éireann is monitoring whether another storm could arrive as soon as this weekend after almost 200,000 people were left without power on Wednesday as Storm Ali swept across the State.

“There’s a potential storm that may develop over the weekend,” meteorologist Pat Clarke said. “We’re monitoring it with the British Met Office to see whether it will happen or not. There is a lot of uncertainty about tracks and whether it will develop or not.”

About 67,000 properties were without power on Wednesday night despite ESB Networks crews working throughout the day and restoring power to 119,000 homes, farms and businesses affected. The areas most impacted included Cavan, Sligo, Donegal, Castlebar, Galway, Portlaoise, Dundalk, Mullingar and parts of north Co Dublin.

“Based on experience, ESB Networks estimates that it will take up to three days to restore power to all homes, farms and businesses affected,” a spokesman said. “However, we expect the vast majority will have their power restored much earlier.”

The spokesman said there were 2,000 faults on its networks, meaning “extensive damage” was caused with low hanging and fallen lines nationwide. He urged the public to remain vigilant and stay clear of fallen lines at all times.

Rough seas seen from Slea Head during Storm Ali in Coumeenoole, Co Kerry, on Wednesday. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters
Rough seas seen from Slea Head during Wednesday's storm in Coumeenoole, Co Kerry. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

Violent storm force 11 winds caused major disruption in coastal regions with gusts of 143km/h recorded at Mace Head in Co Galway, while, in Co Mayo, gusts of 124km/h were recorded at Newport, and 120km/h in Claremorris.

Level of preparedness

Some Government sources suggested the level of preparedness for the storm was less than that for last year’s Storm Ophelia and other extreme weather events past.

This was rejected out of hand by a spokesman for Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy, who said the National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management had been fully aware of this since last week, had been monitoring the evolving situation with Met Éireann and keeping the Minister informed.

It was pointed out that its severe weather team met on Tuesday and had issued an Orange warning for 17 counties, in effect from 5am on Wednesday until 1pm.

The National Emergency Co-ordination Group was not convened because of the short duration of the event, a spokesman for Mr Murphy said.

About 75 flights were cancelled into and out of Dublin Airport as a result of high winds and 10 flights were diverted to other airports. There were reports of fallen trees nationwide, as well as warnings to motorists and pedestrians. Transport networks were severely affected and Dublin Fire Brigade and gardaí reported a number of road blockages due to fallen trees and debris.

A number of cars were damaged and gardaí said one motorist in Co Sligo received minor injuries. An Post said Storm Ali caused disruption to services at a number of post offices due to fallen power lines. Phoenix Park in Dublin was closed, including Dublin Zoo.

Cancelled sailings

Irish Ferries cancelled sailings to and from Dublin, while the Luas Green Line was closed for a time. It is scheduled to operate from Brides Glen to Beechwood and from Dawson Street to Broombridge in the early part of Thursday.

Luas officials are to meet at 12.30pm on Thursday to assess when a full Green Line can be restored.

“There is significant damage to the overhead power lines in this area and maintenance who are on site will not have it rectified for the morning rush hour,” said a spokesman.

Mr Clarke said the storm was tracking between Scotland and Norway on Wednesday night, and was “well out of the way now”.

“It did pack a punch, but story going forward is that winds will moderate and become very light in fact,” he said. Thursday is to be a wet day, while Mr Clarke described the weather for the next three or four days as “very disturbed”.