Severe weather alert issued


Met Éireann has issued a severe weather alert and motorists are being urged to drive with extreme caution as stormy, wet and windy weather continues in most parts of the country tonight.

The agency said an area of low pressure moving in across Ireland from the Atlantic is bringing strong gale force winds from this afternoon.

Winds of up to 120 km/h were experienced in the west and gusts of up to 140 km/h were forecast for some of the more exposed parts of Connacht and Ulster. Driving conditions are hazardous with reports of fallen trees and debris on many routes this evening.

Met Éireann said tonight that westerly gales will continue this evening but will moderate overnight.

The winds are likely to lead to some structural damage and will be accompanied by high seas on Atlantic coasts, the agency warned.

Heavy thundery showers over Munster will gradually ease but there will be further showers across Connacht and Ulster overnight.

Head of forecasting Gerald Fleming said winds would moderate considerably towards dawn tomorrow.

Gardaí in Ballymoate in Co Sligo are advising motorists to drive with extreme care due to very windy conditions. Blustery weather is also reported in counties Limerick and Galway and there are reports of households being without electricity in some parts of Co Donegal.

A spokesman for Sligo County Council said its crews removed seven fallen trees which were blocking roads in the Drumcliffe area while there were also problems around Ballymote, Enniscrone and Tubbercurry.

As the north west got the brunt of the high winds gardaí said there were no road accidents and council workers had all routes cleared by 6pm but staff continue to be on alert tonight.

The Road Safety Authority warned motorists to take extra care while driving and to watch out for vehicles veering in the strong winds. It also cautioned drivers to beware of falling debris or objects being blown onto the road in the blustery conditions.

The authority warned pedestrians and cyclists to exercise particular caution when crossing the road or passing near traffic as a gust could blow them into traffic.

AA Roadwatch also urged motorists to take added precautions when travelling on roads today. It said drivers in some parts of the country were contending with surface water, fallen debris and strong gusty winds and warned that conditions will worsen. The organisation called on drivers to teduce speed and increase braking distance and advised that high sided vehicles are vulnerable to cross winds on open road.

Dart and commuter trains were running about 15 minutes late this evening due to the poor weather.

Stena Line cancelled its scheduled 1.15pm ferry sailing from Dún Laoghaire to Holyhead today due to adverse conditions in the Irish Sea. The company said vehicles and passengers could be accommodated on sailings from Dublin Port. The company also cancelled the 9.15pm saling from Dublin Port to Holyhead.

The 10am sailing from Holyhead to Dun Laoghaire was cancelled while the 9.30pm saling from Holyhead to Dublin Port is in doubt. In addition the 2.30 pm Fishguard to Rosslare and the 9.15pm Rosslare to Fishguard services have been cancelled.

A number of services to and from Belfast and Larne have also been cancelled or postponed to a later time.

Irish Ferries cancelled its Jonathan Swift fast ferry sailings on the Dublin/Holyhead route today and said they were also in doubt for tomorrow. The 8.45pm Rosslare/Pembroke sailing has been cancelled due to poor weather conditions. Service is expected to resume with the 2.45am departure from Pembroke Dock in the morning.

Clare County Council has urged homeowners and business proprietors to take precautionary steps in view of the weather alert.

The council said it is "progressing contingency arrangements" in terms of additional pumping capacity and other flood alleviation measures.

Ennis town manager Ger Dollard said river levels have increased significantly over the past two weeks and the council is monitoring the situation.

Elsewhere, Limerick City Council has reported localised flooding at Clancy Strand.

The Irish Coast Guard has advised people not to go out on exposed coasts, cliffs, piers, harbour walls, beaches, promenades or any other coastal areas.

Irish Water Satefy also urged people to keep away from the water's edge during the bad weather and called on owners of small craft to make sure they are well secured ahead of the storm.