The whole country is this morning being warned to be braced for potentially life-threatening conditions, with a myriad of dangers including flying debris, surging seas, flooding, fallen trees, and downed but live electricity wires.
The devastating effects of Hurricane Ophelia had initially been expected to impact predominantly on eight coastal counties after it reached land at 6am this morning. Status Red warnings were put in place for Cork, Kerry, Clare, Limerick, Waterford, Wexford, Galway, and Limerick due to the storm-force winds, very high seas, and storm surges.
However, the level orange warning for the rest of the country was updated to red at 8pm last night.
The Atlantic storm front is expected to track northwards this evening, exiting Irish coastal waters during the night, but leaving a trail of destruction in its wake.
As they made whatever contingency plans they could ahead of today’s storm, authorities were advising people to stay indoors and not make journeys unless they absolutely have to while the storm is passing their area, and particularly to make today a “no bike day”.
The Road Safety Authority also advised the drivers of high- sided vehicles and motorcyclists to be aware of the extreme danger posed by gale-force winds.
Schools were yesterday contacting parents to tell them that the facilities would not be opening today due to the high risk, and the Department of Education said all colleges and other education institutions were being told to remain closed.
The ESB said that all of its internal resources are on alert and will be deployed to respond to all electricity outages once it is safe to do so.
It advised the public that large sections of the country could be affected by power cuts and to be prepared by having plenty of food and water available, as well as torches, and to make sure phones are charged and, if possible, have a phone charger at hand in the car.
The ESB also asked anyone who encounters any damage to electricity infrastructure to let it know by calling 1850 372 999.
Cork City Council warned that power outages could last in some areas for a period of up to three days.
The public was also being asked to check in on elderly or vulnerable relatives and neighbours both in advance of the storm and again once the worst effects had passed.
The HSE in Cork and Kerry said patients should not travel for hospital clinic appointments or non-urgent elective/planned procedures including day case procedures as non-urgent services been postponed.
Hospitals affected are University Hospital Kerry, Cork University Hospital, Mercy University Hospital, South Infirmary University Hospital, Mallow General Hospital, and Bantry General Hospital.
It also said day services for older people will not take place tomorrow and routine appointments are cancelled.
“The National Ambulance Service will as always prioritise emergency calls during this weather event but is urging the general public to think carefully before calling,” said a spokesperson. “It must be understood that our response to emergency calls may be hindered by road conditions and the number of emergency calls at any particular time. We will do our utmost to reach those in greatest need of our emergency services.”
The Road Safety Authority said anyone who was due to sit their driving test today should simply not turn up for the test, while the Department of Social Protection said all customer appointments for today were also cancelled.
Information and updates on the latest conditions can be obtained from Met Éireann at met.ie.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved