Storm Ali: Two dead and thousands without power

Some 67,000 remain without power after severe winds batter Ireland

A woman in her 50s has died after the caravan she was staying in was blown onto a beach in Co Galway as Storm Ali swept the country on Wednesday.

The woman, who has been named as Elvira Ferraii from Switzerland, was staying on her own in the caravan at the Clifden ecoBeach Camping and Caravan Park when the incident occurred.

She was confirmed dead at the scene in Claddaghduff, north of Clifden on Wednesday morning. Gardaí said they received a report at 7.45am that a caravan had blown away. A search was carried out on the beach and the woman’s body was found a short time later.

It is believed the caravan was swept from a ledge down an incline and may have somersaulted before landing on the tideline.


Her body was taken for a postmortem examination and the local coroner notified. Gardaí said they are investigating the incident.

Meanwhile, a man has died and another has been seriously injured after a storm-related incident in the Slieve Gullion forest park area of Newry.

The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service received a call at 12.13pm saying a tree had struck two men.

One of the men, aged in his 20s, died and the other man, in his 40s, is currently in a serious condition at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast. The man who died was an engineer working for the Northern Ireland Water utility.

A postmortem is due to be carried out on the deceased.

Storm Ali: What we know so far

  • A woman in her 50s has died after the caravan she was staying in was blown onto a beach in Co Galway.
  • A man in his 20s has died after being struck by a tree in Newry.
  • Some 67,000 homes and business remain without power.
  • The second day of the National Ploughing Championships in Screggan, Co Offaly, has been cancelled.
  • An orange wind warning for Connacht, Cavan, Monaghan, Donegal, Dublin, Kildare, Longford, Louth, Offaly, Westmeath, Meath, Clare and Kerry was in place until 1pm on Wednesday. A status yellow warning was in place for the entire country until 5pm on Wednesday.
  • A number of flights to and from Dublin Airport have been cancelled. Irish Ferries has also cancelled sailings to and from Dublin while Irish Rail reported disruptions on some of its services. Dublin Bus was also diverting some routes that are affected by fallen debris.
  • There is disruption to services on the Luas Green Line. Services on that line are running between Bride's Glen-Balally and Broombridge-Dawson only and there are no services between Balally and Dawson. Luas tickets are valid on Dublin Bus for the duration of the disruption, which is expected to take a number of hours to correct.
  • Dublin Fire Brigade and the gardaí reported a number of road blockages due to fallen trees and debris. A number of cars have been damaged and gardaí said one motorist received minor injuries.
  • The Phoenix Park in Dublin was closed, including Dublin Zoo. All traffic going towards the city was diverted down the Odd Lamp Road and to Chesterfield Avenue. The Cabra Gate is closed.
  • Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE) Networks said about 22,000 customers remain without power in the North.

Significant damage

A yellow wind warning was in place for the entire country until 5pm on Wednesday.

Met Éireann said gusts of 143km/h were recorded at Mace Head in Co Galway while, in Co Mayo, gusts of 124km/h were recorded at Newport and 107km/h at Belmullet.

ESB networks said that, as of 7pm on Wednesday, approximately 67,000 electricity customers remained without power as a result of the storm, down from a total of 186,000. Some 2,000 individual faults on the network were recorded across the country on Wednesday.

The areas most impacted by power outages included: Cavan, Sligo, Donegal, Castlebar, Galway, Portlaoise, Dundalk, Mullingar and parts of north Co Dublin.

The ESB said affected customers should prepare to be without power for up to three days.

Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE) said about 22,000 customers are without electricity across Northern Ireland, with power restored to more than 70,000 customers. It said conditions were “extremely challenging” for emergency crews on the ground.

At one stage on Wednesday, more than 250,000 homes and businesses were without power on both sides of the Border as power lines toppled.

The second day of the National Ploughing Championships in Screggan, Co Offaly, was cancelled due to health and safety concerns. The decision followed consultation between local authorities, Met Éireann and gardaí.

Anna Marie McHugh of the National Ploughing Association (NPA) told RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke show that the organisers had hoped that the winds would die down sooner and that the event could go ahead, but following a health and safety review at 11am a decision was made to cancel it completely.

Ms McHugh said the championships will "definitely" be open tomorrow. The NPA later confirmed the event arena would be open for an extra day on Friday, with wristbands from Wednesday valid for both Thursday and Friday.

Irish Rail reported widespread disruption on services caused by the storm, including 20-minute delays on all Dart services due to signalling difficulties.

The following issues had been reported:

Sligo services: Line between Longford and Edgeworthstown reopened following earlier closure. Passengers could expect delays of up to 60 minutes.

Dublin/Belfast: The 3.20pm Connolly/Belfast train was cancelled due to debris on the line. The Dundalk/Newry line has reopened after fallen trees and debris on tracks. However, bus transfers for this section were still in place for the 7pm Connolly to Belfast service.

Dart: Full services operating with delays of up to 10 minutes, with the Clongriffin-Malahide line back up and running.

Northern Commuter and Enterprise: Most services operating with delays of up to 20 minutes.

Galway/Westport: Line has reopened between Tullamore and Clara. Passengers could expect delays of up to 30 minutes.

Irish Ferries cancelled sailings to and from Dublin. Dublin Bus has also been forced to divert some routes that are affected by fallen debris.

The Luas Green Line remains closed between Balally and Dawson. Services are running between Broombridge and Dawson and Bride's Glen and Balally.

In a statement on Wednesday night, Luas operator Transdev said the Green Line would not operate between Beechwood and Dawson on Thursday morning, following significant damage to the overhead power lines.

Dublin Airport said approximately 75 flights have been cancelled into and out of Dublin Airport as a result of high winds and 10 flights had been diverted to other airports. It advised customers to check with their airline before coming to the airport. Delays were reported at Belfast City and Belfast International airports, with some flight cancellations at the latter.

A Ryanair flight that was due to land at Shannon Airport was diverted to Liverpool, according to a flight tracker.

Dublin Fire Brigade and gardaí reported a number of road blockages due to fallen trees and debris. Dublin Fire Brigade said its Eastern Region Control Centre had processed more than 140 calls for issues such as fallen trees and cables.

A number of cars were also 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. The Phoenix Park in Dublin was closed, including Dublin Zoo.

RTÉ earlier reported it was having issues with its Three Rock transmitter which was affecting its services.

In Northern Ireland, about 60 roads were closed due to the storm. The M1 motorway was closed westbound from Black’s Road Dunmurry and eastbound from Saintfield Road due to fallen cables.

An oil truck driver has been hospitalised for non-life-threatening injuries after a tree fell on his fuel lorry at the Osborne Park area in Belfast on Wednesday morning.

Fallen trees

The violent storm force 11 winds caused major disruption across Galway and parts of Mayo, with fallen trees closing roads in Galway city including part of the Promenade in Salthill, St Mary’s Road, the N59 close to Glenlo Abbey, the Parkmore road at Briarhill, Balla near Tonabrucky and Renmore.

A tree also fell in Eyre Square, while there were further tree falls across the county at Knockdoe on the N17, near Corrandulla, the Mountbellew to Ballina road, the R347 Athenry roundabout, Oranmore and Tuam.

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) advised drivers to “expect the unexpected”. Driver were urged to be aware of debris and allow extra space when near cyclists and motorcyclists.

Dipped headlights were recommended at all times.

All pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists were advised by the RSA to wear bright clothing and to take extra care when crossing the road.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney warned the public to listen to severe storm warnings and avoid storm "fatigue".

The State had made preparations for Storm Ali but it appeared that "perhaps the public did not", he told RTÉ's Today with Sean O'Rourke show.

"Sometimes when people don't see a red warning, they think everything will be fine."

Mr Coveney said that the Government had many meetings in the build-up to the storm. "We could see it coming."

Met Éireann said many places will be dry on Wednesday night, aside from a scattering of showers affecting western and northern areas, and patchy rain and drizzle along southern coasts. Southwesterly winds will continue to moderate overnight, becoming light and variable over southern counties.

Thursday is due to begin dry in many areas with outbreaks of rain spreading from the south and affecting much of the country through the afternoon and evening. Rain will be heavy and persistent in Munster and south Leinster, with a risk of spot flooding. Winds will be mostly light and variable with highest temperatures between 11 and 14 degrees.

Friday will be cool and breezy with sunny spells and scattered showers. There will be strong winds along the coasts, which are due to ease towards the evening. Highest temperatures will be between 5 and 8 degrees.

Met Éireann forecaster Aisling Butler said conditions will become unsettled again at the weekend with strong winds moving in off the Atlantic and extending northeastwards over the country.

“The weekend is looking unsettled so there will be heavy rain and some blistery winds returning again; when and where is still very uncertain,” she told The Irish Times.

Storm Ali arrives on the tail end of tropical storm Helene. Met Éireann said a period of unsettled weather was likely to follow Storm Helene as a number of low pressure systems stayed close to the Irish coast.

The forecaster also warned that rainfall warnings may be issued over parts of the country in the coming days as the impact of these low pressure systems becomes clearer. - Additional reporting: PA

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times