North and west brace for Storm Barra as tens of thousands left without power

Schools in 12 counties told to close as Government warns worst not yet over

Cork, Kerry and Clare were hit with gusts of up to 130km/h, with orange alert for other counties. The storm caused disruption to schools, colleges, transport and hospitals across the country. Video: Twitter/Staff

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Tens of thousands of homes were left without power overnight as Storm Barra moved across the country, disrupting travel and prompting the closure of schools in several counties for a second day.

Schools in counties under red or orange weather warnings were advised to close on Wednesday. Pupils in Cork, Kerry, Waterford, Limerick, Clare, Galway, Mayo, Dublin and Wexford will miss a second day due to the severe weather, while those in Donegal, Sligo and Leitrim will miss a first. Universities and colleges in these areas were also advised not to open.

The Department of Education said schools in Wicklow, Meath and Louth could reopen on the condition that they were checked for storm damage and deemed to be safe.

A Government spokesman denied that the closing of schools in Dublin yesterday was an overreaction given the weather in the county. “It’s better to be cautious,” he said.

The slow-moving storm, dubbed a “weather bomb” by meteorologists, crossed the country overnight, continuing to cause severe disruptions. The strongest gusts moved northwards affecting the west and northwest after pummelling southern parts of the country on Tuesday.

The southwest bore the brunt of the storm early on, with a gust of 159km/h recorded at Fastnet Lighthouse off the Cork coast, where workers witnessed nine-metre-high waves.

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Storm Barra: In pictures VIEW NOW

The Government warned last night that the worst of the storm was not yet over, saying the weather front continued to pose “life-threatening dangers to the public”.

Stay indoors

The strongest overnight winds were forecast for exposed coastal areas of Munster, Connacht and west Ulster, with further coastal flooding and travel disruption expected. Keith Leonard, chairman of the National Emergency Co-ordination Group, said there would be “more severe wind” and “hazardous conditions” as the storm crossed the country.

Orange wind warnings were in place for many western counties and some southeastern counties, with a yellow wind warning covering the rest of the country in place until 6pm on Wednesday.

People in the worst-affected areas were warned to stay indoors due to the danger posed by falling trees and downed power lines as the emergency services remained on high alert.

ESB Networks said last night there were about 38,000 homes, farms and businesses without power and that people should prepare to be without electricity overnight and into today, with some customers potentially affected for longer.

Customers using electrical medical devices were advised to contact their healthcare professionals in order to make alternative arrangements.

Irish Water said 40 water supplies serving more than 76,000 people were at risk due to the storm. The utility company said Cork and Kerry had been hardest hit so far but that other counties would probably be affected as the storm tracked northwards.

Driving conditions

Fallen trees, downed power lines and flooding made driving conditions dangerous in parts, while flood waters damaged 28 premises in Bantry, Co Cork, at high tide yesterday morning.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar told the Seanad that a number of businesses had incurred damage and that while most would be covered by insurance, those unable to get cover would be eligible for financial aid from his department under a scheme that would open no later than next Tuesday.

As Storm Barra moved northeastwards, Co Clare fell under a red weather alert overnight. Met Éireann also escalated warnings lasting into Wednesday for Donegal, Sligo and Leitrim to status orange.

Gusts of more than 130km/h were forecast for red alert counties overnight as well as winds of 90-110km/h in some inland areas. Dangerous conditions were forecast in coastal areas with marine warnings in place along all Irish coasts including a red marine warning along the southwest and western seaboards.