Potentially ‘nasty’ storm may hit Ireland this weekend

Luas disrupted until Friday and 25,000 without power while Storm Bronagh to impact tonight

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

 

Met Eireann is monitoring a weather front which may develop into a ‘nasty’ storm hitting Ireland over the weekend. If upgraded it would be called Storm Callum.

Meanwhile another weather system approaching the Irish and UK coastlines has officially been upgraded to Storm Bronagh by the UK Met Office. It comes as the aftermath of Storm Ali has disrupted Luas commuters until Friday and left tens of thousands without power.

The worst impact of Storm Bronagh is anticipated to hit the UK, particularly parts of Wales and south-west England from Thursday evening. The second storm of the year is currently approaching the south-east coast of Ireland, according to Met Éireann meteorologist Joan Blackburn. There will be strong winds in parts of Ireland, which should ease off into Friday.

However Met Éireann is monitoring a weather system that may develop into ta third storm, Storm Callum, late on Saturday evening. The system has the potential to develop into something “nasty,” which would hit Ireland late on Saturday into Sunday morning, Ms Blackburn said.

The weather system is being kept under review, and some models predict it may not develop into a storm, she said. “We are aware of it and keeping a close eye on it,” Ms Blackburn said.

A status yellow rainfall warning is in place today for Status Yellow Carlow, Kilkenny, Wexford, Wicklow, Cork, Tipperary and Waterford.

Deaths

High winds caused chaos across the transport network on Wednesday, with planes, trains and trams cancelled throughout the afternoon during the orange weather alert. Two people died during the storm which sparked an orange weather alert for 17 counties.

A woman in her 50s, Elvira Ferraii from Switzerland, died after the caravan she was staying in was blown onto a beach near Claddaghduff in Co Galway. A man, aged in his 20s, was injured after a tree fell on them in the Slieve Gullion forest park area of Newry. He was working on behalf of public utility Northern Ireland Water .

Luas cables

The Luas Green Line will not operate a full line service until Friday morning at 5.30am, the operator has said.

A large portion of the Luas Green Line was closed after gales knocked down trees and tore down power cables close to the Beechwood station. The problems were made significantly worse because electric cables became entangled in a tram and could not be simply reattached by maintenance crews.

The fallen power lines were pulled by the tram for a period of time until it came to a stop. Repair crews have been working to fix the problem since early Wednesday afternoon, and worked through the night.

The scale of the damage to the overhead wire was “extensive” the operator said. Over 200 meters of overhead line has to be replaced, and the tension of the cables has to be reconfigured. A Luas tram was also “significantly damaged,” the operator said.

A Luas spokeswoman said the incident occurred between the Beechwood and Ranelagh stops and had affected 10 trams that were in the area at the time.

Services on Thursday will operate between Brides Glen and Cowper and between Dawson and Broombridge with no service between the Cowper and Dawson stops. Tickets are valid on Dublin Bus services during the service stoppage, the tram operator said in a statement.

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The Luas operator said as this morning’s service was reduced, commuters travelling northwards should take buses from Balally and Dundrum

All Red Line services are operating normally.

Power restored

Power has been restored to the majority of homes and businesses who lost electricity during Storm Ali yesterday, with most expected to be restored by tonight.

There are still some 25,000 homes, farms and businesses without power on Thursday morning, and ESB Networks said they expect to restore outages to all customers over the course of the day.

Over 186,000 customers lost power during the height of the storm yesterday, but repair crews restored outages to some 161,000 customers by Thursday afternoon.

Additional crews from less impacted areas of the country are being sent to the worst impacted areas , which include counties Sligo, Galway, Longford, Westmeath, Cavan and Louth.

Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE) Networks said by Thursday morning there were 9,500 homes and premises without power.

Crews from the Northern Irish utility were working to restore electricity to over 80,000 properties that were impacted by the storm.

Emergency crews were still working to repair hundreds of faults across the power network.

Up to 10,000 people in Co Monaghan were without water on Wednesday, after a power outage affected an Irish Water plant supplied by Lough Egish.

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.

The National Ploughing Championships resumed in Co Offaly this morning after it was closed to yesterday due to damage caused by the storm.

Flights

The weather caused major travel disruptions, and around 75 flights were cancelled into and out of Dublin Airport as a result of high winds on Wednesday.

Ryanair and Aer Lingus said flights were operating as normal on Thursday.

Broadcaster Sean Moncrieff was one passenger stranded abroad due to the Storm Ali flight cancellations. Mr Moncrieff was due to fly to Dublin with Aer Lingus from Verona, Italy on Wednesday afternoon.

“We arrived at the airport and it said the flight was on time. At the gate the flight was still showing as on time, then it was delayed by two hours, then cancelled” he told The Irish Times.

Passengers were then told they were booked onto a flight leaving from Milan airport, Mr Moncrieff said. But when he arrived at the airport the flight was “totally overbooked,” he said.

“In the end I booked a flight myself to fly back at 10.30pm today ... Then I got an email from Aer Lingus at 10.25am, saying they had booked me a flight for 11.20am,” he said. The flight was from Milan Linate airport, which was an hour away, and Mr Moncrieff said he would have never made the flight.

The main point of frustration for passengers was the lack of information from Aer Lingus over the disruptions. “We heard absolutely nothing,” Mr Moncrieff said.

Yesterday the Commission for Aviation Regulation said in the event of flight cancellations, a carrier must offer a choice between re-routing as soon as possibl, re-routing at a later date or a refund. Passengers choosing rerouting as soon as possible must be provided with care and assistance (meals, hotels, transport), it said.

If the air carrier does not provide care and assistance, passengers should make their own reasonable arrangements and retain receipts and submit these to the airline for reimbursment, it said.

Irish Ferries said there would be some “residual delays” for passengers on Thursday, although a spokeswoman said the “worst is over for the moment” in terms of disruptions. Passengers affected by any delays would be contacted by the company, she said.

Being prepared

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, said a spokesman for Mr Murphy.