Storm Barra: Schools and universities in 12 counties urged to close, hospitals face disruption

All buses in Cork and Kerry and some in Clare suspended due to red wind warning

A wind chart for Ireland and the UK for 9am on Tuesday. Photograph: Magicseaweed.com

A wind chart for Ireland and the UK for 9am on Tuesday. Photograph: Magicseaweed.com

 

All schools, universities and colleges across 12 counties have been advised to close on Tuesday while there will also be disruption to hospital services due to the threat of Storm Barra.

Met Éireann has issued a status red wind warning for counties Cork, Kerry and Clare as the weather system is considered “a danger to life”, while there is also a risk of snow and flooding.

The Department of Education has advised, however, that all schools in both red and orange alert counties should close. That also includes Limerick, Waterford, Galway, Mayo, Wexford, Dublin, Louth, Wicklow and Meath.

“Met Éireann has advised that there is a strong possibility that the status of parts of these counties currently in status orange are likely to change and escalate to status red,” it said in a statement.

“Due to the significant nature of Storm Barra, as forecast by Met Éireann and to give sufficient notice to schools and parents/guardians, the department is advising that all schools covered by the Red Alert and Orange warning from Met Éireann should not open”.

The Department of Higher Education also released a statement advising that all universities, colleges and further education facilities covered by the red and orange warnings should not open.

A spokesman for Trinity College Dublin confirmed it would not be opening on Tuesday. UCD is also closing its campus, and will postpone three graduation cermonies.

Creches, early learning and school-age childcare services in the 12 counties should not open on Tuesday, according to the Department of Children.

All Bus Éireann services in Co Cork and Co Kerry will be suspended for the full day on Tuesday, “in the interests of the safety of our employees and customers”. Buses in Co Clare will be suspended from 4pm until 1am.

Defence Forces troops are on standby to assist in the response to the storm if required.

Cork County Council employees were preparing pumps in Bantry this evening for expected flooding due to Storm Barra. Photograph: Andy Gibson
Cork County Council employees were preparing pumps in Bantry this evening for expected flooding due to Storm Barra. Photograph: Andy Gibson

Head of forecasting Evelyn Cusack said the local authorities and emergency services were preparing for the “significant and severe weather event” which will start early on Tuesday morning.

A red wind warning is issued when consistent wind speeds in excess of 80km/h and gusts in excess of 130km/h are expected and conditions are regarded as life-threatening for those who venture out in it. The Met Éireann website advises people take action to protect themselves and their properties. The warning for Cork and Kerry will be in effect from 6am-9pm on Tuesday. The alert in Co Clare will be valid from 4pm on Tuesday until 1am on Wednesday.

A status red marine storm warning will also be in effect for Irish coastal waters from north Mayo to Cork city.

Orange wind warnings have been issued for Clare, Limerick, Waterford, Galway, Mayo, Wexford, Dublin, Louth, Wicklow and east Meath. Counties included in orange warning could see damaging gusts of up to 130km/h which will head to high waves, high tides, heavy rain and storm surge.

The rest of the country will be under a yellow warning from Monday night until Wednesday evening, with the possibility of localised flooding.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the Government was “very concerned” about the potential impact of Storm Barra.

“All of the reports we have received so far suggests that it is very serious and we would suggest that people stay at home in terms of travel in the red counties. We are dealing with a serious storm in Storm Barra.”

The HSE said a number of its Covid-19 testing and vaccination centres in affected counties would be closed on Tuesday.

HSE chief executive Paul Reid said there would some cancellations to services in “high risk areas”. A list of closures confirmed so far can be accessed here.

All elective inpatient and outpatient appointments at several HSE hospitals in Cork and Kerry have been cancelled.

Ennis Hospital outpatient appointments will be cancelled but some elective procedures will go ahead. Patients will be contacted directly by the hospital to confirm if their procedure is going ahead or not.

Cork Airport said Aer Lingus had cancelled its early Tuesday morning services to Amsterdam and London Heathrow due to the storm.

An Garda Síochána advised that “all unnecessary travel should be avoided where red and orange level wind warnings are in place. People are advised to remove or secure patio and garden furniture, rubbish bins and any loose items from around buildings”.

Ms Cusack said Storm Barra could cause a lot of structural damage around the country.

She said the atmospheric pressure which creates the storm energy is twice what was originally anticipated by weather forecasters. Storm Barra is currently forming in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and is what could be described as a “weather bomb”, she added.

It will bring with it a risk of “multiple hazards”, she added, including storm surges and spot flooding as between 50mm and 60mm of rain is expected to fall in the southwest.

She said those living in orange area counties should avoid unnecessary journeys particularly drivers of high-sided vehicles.

There is a significant possibility of coastal flooding in all coastal areas including Dublin.

Cork City Council has warned that there is a risk of tidal flooding in the city centre tomorrow morning around 7.30am as the strongest winds coincide with the morning high tide.

Dublin City Council has also warned of the possibility of coastal flooding and has closed the car parks at Clontarf and Sandymount along with the flood gates along the river Dodder.

The National Emergency Co-ordination Group (NECG), chaired by the Minister for Local Government Darragh O’Brien, met on Monday afternoon.

Local authorities are the lead agencies for co-ordinating the response to severe weather emergencies.

Director of emergency management Keith Leonard said conditions “will be very dangerous around the west and east coasts”.

Sandbags and temporary coastal defences have been erected. He said people should avoid coastal areas right into Wednesday. “This is an extended storm event and is quite unusual”.

The Department of Local Government said a large number of national parks and reserves including Killarney National Park and Muckross House would close on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Powerscourt Estate in Co Wicklow will close from 8am until 1pm on Tuesday.

Charity Alone urged older people to take extra care and called on members of the public to “check in with their older neighbours and relatives and assist them if they need to travel to the local shop, post office or medical appointments during the bad weather”.

The Coast Guard is appealing to all mariners and coastal communities to be mindful of the severe weather warnings and to note the imminent arrival of Storm Barra. It has also advised walkers to stay away from the seafront and cliff walkways.

It says there will be a combination of south easterly winds, spring tides and low pressure, provide for an increased risk of localised flooding.

A yellow weather warning for wind and rain has been issued by the UK Met Office from 6am on Tuesday to 9am on Wednesday.