Storms to send the year out with a bang

THE year is about to come to a wet and windy end with severe storms set to batter the country.

Two storms were lined up off the south-west coast last night and are expected to arrive in two waves — the first tonight and the second on New Year’s Eve.

Gale-force winds of up to 120 kilometres per hour — strong enough to cause structural damage — are forecast. And with up to three inches of rain expected over the coming days, Met Éireann warned of possible flooding around the drenched Shannon basin, in the Midlands and in the south-west.

Up to 200 ESB crews were on standby last night as the country braced itself for the sustained battering.

Extra staff have also been drafted into the company’s customer call centre in Wilton, Cork, to deal with a number of expected weather-related power outages.

Met Eireann’s Gerard Fleming said that, although small, the weather systems were very strong.

“We expect the storms to be worst in the midwest and in Connaught,” he said.

“They will last for about three or four hours overnight and sustained rainfall is expected.”

Up to three inches of rain is forecast to fall in the west and south-west over the coming week, with up to one inch falling in the east, he added.

A few hundred homes along the south-east and south coast were affected by a number of low voltage power outages yesterday, an ESB spokesman said.

“It was mainly due to debris hitting the lines. Thankfully the outages were confined to small numbers of houses between Wexford to Kerry,” he said.

A number of lightning strikes blew fuses on lines in the west yesterday and these were dealt with quickly, the spokesman said.

Power was restored, meanwhile, to the last of 2,500 homes in Galway yesterday after a local sub-station in Oranmore was damaged by vandals, on Thursday night.

The ESB spokesman said trespassers, “risk serious injury or even death.”

With the expected storm-force winds sweeping in from the Atlantic today, ESB repair crews are expected to be busy over the coming days.

It’s already been a busy Christmas period for the repair crews as dozens of workers spent Christmas day restoring power to thousands of homes in north county Dublin.

High winds, meanwhile, knocked a number of trees in Douglas, Cork city and on the R212 road between Fermoy and Glanworth yesterday. Council workers were on standby to remove the debris.

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