Yellow rain warning was appropriate for south east - Met Éireann

Christmas Day flooding leaves roads impassible, homes evacuated

Cars drive through spot flooding in Carlow town Co Carlow on December 24 as Met Eireann issued a yellow weather warning for Carlow, Kilkenny, Waterford, Wexford & Wicklow meaning a risk of flooded road on Christmas Day. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Cars drive through spot flooding in Carlow town Co Carlow on December 24 as Met Eireann issued a yellow weather warning for Carlow, Kilkenny, Waterford, Wexford & Wicklow meaning a risk of flooded road on Christmas Day. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

 

Met Éireann has defended its decision to issue a status yellow rainfall warning for counties in the south east on Christmas Day, despite severe flooding in parts of the region.

The meteorological service’s adverse weather warnings are categorised in increasing levels of severity from yellow, to orange, to red. A yellow warning was issued for the country during the day on Saturday and until 11pm in for counties Carlow, Kilkenny, Wexford, Wicklow, and Waterford.

However, parts of the south east, particularly in Wexford, were hit by some of the worst flooding in 60 years, with some homes evacuated and a number of roads impassible by mid afternoon.

Wexford County Council said river networks across the county became “inundated and unable to cope with the staggering water volumes” which it said were described by many locals as “unprecedented in living memory” and of “biblical proportions”.

However, Met Éireann forecaster Gerry Murphy said the yellow warning had been appropriate.

“Broadly it was in the yellow warning range of 30-50mm as outlined, but it is impossible to narrow it down to one or two specific areas in the region where there might be significantly higher rainfall.”

The was also a caveat he said, that the effects of heavy rainfall will depend on a number of factors.

“A few weeks ago Bunclody had 77mm but didn’t have major flooding. It depends on a lot things coming together, such as surface conditions and river conditions.”

While there will be a respite from the heavy rain for most parts on Sunday, outbreaks of rain are expected for the rest of the week. This could leave some areas vulnerable to further floods.

“As we go through the week there will be further spells of rain. It won’t be as significant and in certain areas surface water will quickly recede, but where the ground is already saturated, it may not recede at all,” Mr Murphy said.

“Overall, over the country as the rain goes through, none of the individual spells will be anything as severe as on Christmas Day, but we couldn’t rule out more flooding.”

A spell of rain will extend eastwards across the country overnight on Monday. During the day on Tuesday there will be mostly dry weather in the south, but outbreaks of rain will affect northern counties.

Rain will move in from the south on Tuesday night extending north over the country into Wednesday morning with heavy rain and blustery winds to start, and bright spells and showers during the afternoon,

On Thursday, a further spell of heavy rain is expected to spread across the country from the south, with further rain on Thursday night. Early indications suggest Friday will be a mild day with outbreaks of rain.

In a statement on Sunday, Wexford County Council said the torrential rainfall on Christmas Day had a “devastating” affect on the county.

“Scores of council workers, including fire fighters, road crews, civil defence volunteers and support staff were called to assist in as flood waters breached river banks in all parts of the county.”

The council’s out of office emergency phoneline recorded more than 250 calls throughout the day “More than 3000 sandbags were deployed at scores of locations and while these did offer protection to householders in many area, not every home managed to escape the flood waters.”

One of the areas worst affected was the village of Bridgetown, where the local canal burst its banks in the early morning, flooding neighbouring houses to a depth of more than a metre. Fire crews and trained civil defence personnel used boats and rafts to assist those trapped by the rising waters.

In Enniscorthy, the River Boro surged to “unprecedented levels,” the council said, “sweeping away road bridges at Kilcarbry Mill and Wilton, Bree. A rapidly rising River Slaney once more flooded Enniscorthy Town, with both Templeshannon Quay and Abbey currently flooded and closed to traffic, with diversions in place”.

Flood waters also destroyed road bridges at Chapel Clonroche, Cullenstown Little, Wellingtonbridge, Mangan, Hollyfort and Ballyroebuck Ferns. “Wexford County Council continues to advise those travelling to drive with extreme caution, and to drive at night only if absolutely necessary, as hazards such as flood water and damaged roads may be difficult to see.”

The council’s environment department has also issued an appeal to farmers whose slurry tanks may have filled with surface water to “avoid the temptation to spread slurry on already waterlogged fields, as the resulting runoff can have a devastating polluting impact on neighbouring rivers and streams”.

Over the coming days council staff will carry out a survey of the county’s road network to fully assess the scale of the damage caused and put a repair plan in place. while it is still too early to put an estimate on the repair bill, the council said “significant Government funding” will be required to remediate the huge damage caused by the unprecedented flooding.