Storm Barra: Schools, creches to close in 12 counties tomorrow

Clare under red wind warning overnight while orange alert extended to Dublin

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

 

Schools, creches and third-level institutions in counties currently or scheduled to be under red and orange weather warnings due to Storm Barra have been advised to stay closed on Wednesday.

That means schools and colleges in Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Cork, Kerry, Waterford, Limerick, Clare, Galway, Mayo, Wexford and Dublin are being asked to stay closed. Schools in Dublin were advised to close after an orange level wind warning was issued until 7am on Wednesday.

For Dublin, Cork, Kerry, Waterford, Limerick, Clare, Mayo and Wexford, this will mean a second day of school closures.

Schools which are no longer in a red or orange alert area can reopen if school managers “have had an opportunity to check for fallen wires and other serious damage in the vicinity of school buildings” should there be concerns about the damage caused by the storm, the Department of Education said.

“If an individual school (in a yellow area) is still experiencing a particular local issue relating to the storm, the board of management can make a decision to remain closed for tomorrow,” said the department.

“All schools should keep up-to-date with the current weather warnings which are carried on all national and local news bulletins and in particular any change in the status warning for their area.”

Met Éireann said the status red warning was in place for counties Kerry, Cork and Clare as the storm could pose a “threat to life”.

The red wind warning for Co Cork and Co Kerry expired at 9pm, leaving both counties under orange warnings until 6am on Wednesday. The warning in Co Clare came into effect at 4pm and will remain until 1am on Wednesday.

An orange warning is in place for counties Limerick, Waterford, Galway, Mayo, Wexford, Sligo and Leitrim until Wednesday morning. The orange wind warning in Donegal will remain until 2pm. The orange warning has also been extended to Dublin from 1am until 7am.

The rest of the country will remain under a yellow wind and rain warning until 6pm on Wednesday.

Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris tweeted that: “My department is advising that all colleges, universities, further education & training centres that are currently in or forecast to be in a Red or Orange alert area should remain closed tomorrow.”

Trinity College Dublin said on Twitter it still planned to open its campus on Wednesday, although it was “a confusing picture out there tonight”. Dublin City University also said its campuses would open.

University College Cork said its campus would open on Wednesday and resume normal operations as the red warning will have passed and by 6am will be under a yellow warning. Munster Technological University plans to open its campuses as well.

Three of six campuses at the Technological University of the Shannon: Midlands Midwest (TUS) will remain closed tomorrow, the college has said.

The LSAD, Clare Street Campus, Limerick; Moylish Campus, Limerick; and the Ennis Campus, Co Clare were also closed today.

Athlone, Clonmel and Thurles campuses, however, will remain open tomorrow but staff and students are asked not to travel from a red or orange area to attend.

The Department of Children is advising that all early learning and care and school age childcare services that are currently or forecast to be in a red or orange alert area, including Dublin, should close on Wednesday.

Childcare in other areas can be reopened provided, if there are concerns, managers have had an opportunity to check for fallen wires and other serious damage in the vicinity of their service.

Gallery

Storm Barra: In pictures VIEW NOW

Power outages

The storm caused flooding and left thousands without electricity in parts of the country following its arrival on Tuesday morning.

The ESB said at least 38,000 homes, farms and businesses were without power as of 8.45pm. It said it was working to restore power through the day but “unfortunately many of these customers will remain without supply overnight”.

“We are advising all those impacted by outages that they should prepare to be without electricity overnight and into tomorrow, with some customers potentially without power beyond that,” it said in a statement.

About 50,000 had been without electricity at the height of the storm. More than 15,000 of those were in Co Donegal on Tuesday morning, however, the majority of those have had their power restored.

Gale force winds with gusts reaching 135km/h were recorded at Sherkin Island this afternoon with a mean wind speed of 111km/h causing damage to power supply. The ESB said the damage was mainly attributed to fallen trees on overhead lines due to high winds.

Irish Water reported the weather impacted on plants in a number of locations due to heavy rainfall and high winds particularly in counties Cork and Kerry, where a number of supplies are without water and two precautionary boil water notices have been issued.

Live blog: as it happened

Gallery: Storm Barra in pictures

Met Éireann forecaster Gerry Murphy told the RTÉ Six One news the storm “was far from over”.

“It is a very slow moving storm and we are seeing it move northwards at the moment. Kerry and Cork will actually see an improvement over the coming hours but it will be Connacht and west Ulster that will bear the brunt of the more extreme winds tonight.

He warned that some areas in the northwest could be experiencing a “false sense of security” before stronger winds arrive later in the evening.

“The centre of the storm has moved across the northern half of the country. Much of the northern half of the country presently have very light winds and that can lead people into a false sense of security that perhaps the storm isn’t going to affect them. But that’s not the case because it’s tonight and overnight that the northern part of the country will bear the more severe winds.”

Speaking on RTÉ Radio’s Morning Ireland Keith Leonard of the National Emergency Co-ordination Group said that planning for Storm Barra was in two phases – the response phase today with the key focus on “life-safety issues” and then the recovery phase in the coming days with clean-up operations.

Mr Leonard called on the public to stay at home, to take protective measures for themselves and to keep their mobile phones charged.

Flooding

Social media footage showed flooding in Clontarf in north Dublin while earlier this morning the river Lee in Cork city burst its banks onto the surrounding low lying quays causing flooding. The floodwaters spilled onto low-lying streets reaching the South Mall, however the floodwaters have now receded.

Minister of State for Flood Relief Patrick O’Donovan said the southwest of the country was “getting a bad battering” at present, with his own area of west Limerick being “pretty rough” while the worst affected area was Bantry, he told RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show.

About 28 premises in Bantry, Co Cork, were partially flooded on Tuesday morning.

Sandbags had been positioned along the quay wall and remedial flood relief works were in place in the town.

Bantry Fire Brigade said the flooding had been cleared.

Healthcare

The HSE has said the National Ambulance Service will be prioritising emergency calls on Wednesday, but road conditions may be poor and there may be more emergency calls than usual. Some HSE services will be closed and some appointments have been cancelled.

There was significant disruption to health services on Tuesday, particularly in Cork, Kerry and Clare. Many services are set to return to normal on Wednesday.

Covid-19 vaccination and testing centres will reopen in Co Cork and Co Kerry on Wednesday after being closed on Tuesday. Any updates on cancellations due to the storm can be found on the HSE website.

In Co Clare, outpatient appointments were cancelled in Ennis Hospital on Tuesday but some elective procedures went ahead.

Public services

Postal services were heavily disrupted in Cork, Kerry and Clare on Tuesday but should return to usual on Wednesday.

Some public transport services were suspended in the south of the country on Tuesday with delays incurred on several routes across the State. The service between Waterford and Kilkenny had to be suspended for a time due to flooding at Waterford station.

Bus Éireann suspended all bus routes and commuter services in counties Clare, Cork and Kerry on Tuesday.

Most bus and rail routes are expected to resume their normal schedules on Wednesday. However, Bus Éireann said its school bus services in the 12 counties under red and orange warning would not operate. Updates on other services can be found on buseireann.ie.

Contact numbers

Emergency services: 999 or 112

Irish Water have advised that a loss of supply should be reported on 1850 278 278

ESB Networks emergency line is 1800 372 999 or +353 21 2382410. You can also monitor power outages on powercheck.esbnetworks.ie.

For gas-related issues, the Gas Networks Ireland helpline is 1800 20 50 50.

Animal welfare: Contact the Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine on the animal welfare helpline on 01 6072379

Coast guard: If your vessel is equipped with a radio use channel 16. If it not, use your phone to contact 112 or 999.