West coast escapes worst of Storm Ophelia
ESB Networks say it could be 10 days before power is fully restored in more isolated areas
Winds batter the coast as Storm Ophelia hits the Co Clare town of Lahinch on Monday. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters
The west coast escaped the worst of Storm Ophelia, with spot flooding and trees felled, but up to 7,300 homes and businesses in parts of Galway and Mayo were without power on Monday night.
ESB Networks predict it could be up to 10 days before power is fully restored in more isolated areas, but the larger population areas in the west have not been seriously affected.
The “eye” of the storm coincided with high tide in Galway early on Monday afternoon, transforming the docks into a cauldron.
Seas driven by screaming southerly winds surged over pierheads and rushed across Salthill promenade during a 45-minute period – before receding as rapidly in bright sunshine.
Galway harbourmaster Capt Brian Sheridan said the winds were the worst he had witnessed in 18 years. “We were fortunate that this did not coincide with a spring tide, as if it had, the city would have been flooded,” he said.
The south coast received the first and worst impact, with wind speeds of 191km/h at Fastnet rock off the southwest coast.
“Tropical storms can be unpredictable but Ophelia stuck to the trajectory pretty much from Friday 13th onwards,” Capt Sheridan said.
Although damage is still being assessed, early indications are that Ophelia’s impact on the Atlantic seaboard was not as severe as that of the storms of January and February 2014, which battered the west coast.
Mace Head station in Connemara recorded rainfall of 17mm by early afternoon – with 8mm falling in an hour, almost matching Valentia island in Co Kerry.
There was some minor damage in the harbour, but all boats within the dock gates survived the elements.
In spite of the risks, several swimmers took the sea at Blackrock – prompting a call to emergency services.
Former Fine Gael mayor Padraig Conneely was critical of Galway City Council’s failure to install a protective boom at the Claddagh, but the council’s advice was that the risk of tidal flooding was low.
The city council extended closure of Salthill promenade last night for safety reasons, and to allow for clearing of debris.
The council reported limited damage to trees in a number of locations across the city including at Tirellan and Balindooley on the east side and in Rockbarton and Dangan on the west.