Storm Darwin: Hurricane gusts, mass destruction, widespread blackouts — and not one person seriously injured

After the country was slammed by one of the most violent and destructive storms, the ESB has warned that a number of the more than 150,000 homes and businesses that still have no electricity this morning could be without power “for a number of days”.

At the time of going to press there were no reports of serious injuries despite a day in which winds of up to 177km/h smashed into the country ripping roofs off buildings, knocking over even the largest lorries and downing thousands of trees.

Pic: Valerie O’Sullivan

The storms hit the south of the country first and it appears that Munster bore the brunt of the damage — almost 170,000 of the 215,000 homes and businesses still without power at 9pm last night were in the southern province, according to the ESB.

Apartment blocks in Limerick city and Dublin, the Apex leisure centre in Wexford and the Brandon Hotel and a school in Tralee, Co Kerry, were just some of the buildings which had at least a part of their roofs blown off by gusts.

Pic: Liam Burke

As well as the millions of euro worth of damage to infrastructure, the travel plans of hundreds of thousands of commuters on the roads and public transport network were thrown into chaos.

Local authority staff, the emergency services and locals did their best to clear the many roads which were blocked off by fallen trees. Overturned trucks were also a major problem. There was a 16km tailback outside the north Cork town of Buttevant after a truck jack-knifed there.

On the main Cork to Dublin motorway a truck overturned near the Fermoy bypass leaving gardaí with no choice but to close the road in both directions for a time.

Irish Rail maintenance workers across the country had to try to clear many miles of track on inter-city and local routes which had been rendered impassable by fallen trees and debris. Services from Dublin to Limerick, Cork and Kerry had to be stopped for a number of hours and when they resumed significant delays still remained.

Shannon and Cork airports were forced to close for a number of hours. Several flights had to be cancelled and even when the airports reopened many of the flights experienced significant delays or were diverted to Dublin. A plane was even lifted by the wind and dropped on its wing at Shannon.

With such a severe storm it is unsurprising that the biggest wave ever recorded in Irish waters was measured off the Cork coast yesterday. The monster wave 25 metres high, or over 82ft, was measured at Kinsale energy gas platform, Met Éireann said.

It breaks the previous high of 23.4 metres, set over a fortnight ago off the Donegal coast.

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