Storm Eunice: Council worker dies in Wexford after being struck by falling tree

Some 28,000 properties without power as yellow level snow and ice warning in place

A 59-year-old Wexford County Council employee was killed while clearing fallen debris from Storm Eunice on Friday.

The father-of-one, named locally as Billy Kinsella, died in the Ballythomas area of Wexford when a freak gust of wind toppled a tree near to the one he had been working to remove. The man from Clonroe had only been employed with the local authority as part of its road crew for about five or six years .

In a statement Wexford County Council said “Our thoughts and prayers are with the employee’s family, work colleagues and friends at this very difficult time,” it said.

His remains were removed to Waterford University Hospital where a postmortem will take place in due course. The Health and Safety Authority and gardaí are investigating.

Electricity

Storm Eunice has brought strong, damaging winds across the country, as well as snow and ice.

As of 9pm on Friday, about 28,000 homes and businesses were without power, the ESB confirmed, with repair crews set to continue reducing that number until about 11pm, resuming early on Saturday morning. Earlier on Friday some 80,000 electricity customers were without power.

A status yellow warning remains in place until 10am on Saturday, with sleet and snow expected across the country and accumulations in some areas. Icy stretches will also lead to hazardous driving conditions, forecasters said.

The worst of Storm Eunice saw wind gusts of up to 130km/h recorded in parts of Cork, according to Met Éireann, while a wind speed of 172km/h was recorded offshore just after 7am at Fastnet lighthouse, off the coast of west Cork.

The 106km/h wind recorded at 8am at Roches Point weather station in Co Cork was the highest sustained wind speed – as opposed to a gust –recorded there for 65 years.

In the UK, the 196.2 km/h recorded at The Needles on the Isle of Wight was the highest ever gust of wind recorded in the country.

Storm damage

Damage from the storm has been most extensive in west Cork and Kerry, with most impacted areas including Kilgarvan, Cahersiveen, Milltown, Bandon, Bantry, Ballydehob and Dunmanway.

Some customers in south Kerry and west Cork may be without power overnight. Further east, power outages have occurred in Clonmel and Wexford town. There were multiple crashes on the Glenshane Road in Co Derry due to snow and ice, though nobody was injured.

With strong winds still crossing the south of the country, more damage and interruptions to supply can be expected, according to ESB Networks.

In a statement the company said it would restore power to as many customers as it could, but warned that poor weather conditions may hamper crews.

However, head of forecasting at Met Eireann Evelyn Cusack said that even after the weather warnings expired, there would still be strong winds for the rest of the day and into the weekend.

Status orange and red warnings in the south of the country have been lifted. Schools, colleges and pre-schools in counties that were under red wind warnings – Cork, Kerry, Clare and Waterford – and those with orange snow warnings – Mayo, Sligo, Leitrim, Donegal and Roscommon – were closed on Friday.

There had been snow falls in Mayo and Donegal earlier on Friday, forecaster Matthew Martin told Newstalk Breakfast, as he warned it would be a "very cold day".

Damage from the storm in Kerry was not as bad as feared, and conditions there were said to be no worse than a bad winter storm in the coastal and mountainous county.

Travel disruptions

A number of flights were cancelled or delayed into and out of Ireland because of Storm Eunice.Bus services were suspended in Cork and Kerry until 10am.

A number of roads were closed or blocked, some by fallen trees, including many local and minor roads. Trees in Co Cork and Co Kerry were blocked on Friday morning by fallen trees with hazardous driving conditions due to surface flooding .

Flooding

The flood-prone Princes Quay and Godfrey Place in Tralee, Kerry, experienced their usual flooding from the storm.

In west Cork, high tide also passed in Bantry without serious flooding. Pumps were activated for 15 minutes and this was sufficient to lower the level until water levels peaked before 6am.

There was a sense of relief in the flood-prone town as more than 20 businesses were severely impacted by Storm Barra last December.

Cork County Council crews were on standby throughout the night with sandbags deployed and pumps in operation across known flood-risk areas.

The Council's Severe Weather Assessment Team and Crisis Management Team were to convene later on Friday morning.

The public has been advised to avoid fallen or grounded wires and call ESB. Fallen trees, road damage and flooding should be reported to the local authority.