Batten down hatches as storms on the way

Ireland is bracing itself for storms, rainfall and gale force winds usually seen in October and November as the country is set to be hit with an average month of June rainfall in just two days.

After a fortnight of soaring temperatures in most parts of the country, this week has seen the mercury levels plummet, while flash floods caused havoc to parts of East Cork.

And the June gloom is set to take an even bigger turn for the worse between today and Sunday morning as a weekend wash-out strikes home.

Met Éireann forecaster Gerard Fleming has warned that, over the next 48 hours, “a month’s rain” will fall on Irish shores, with Munster and Connacht expected to each witness up to 60mm of rainfall in the period.

Leinster and Ulster will also be badly hit, with falls expected to average between 30 and 50mm — leading to safety calls by the Road Safety Authority, the Coast Guard and gardaí.

RSA chief executive, Noel Brett, told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland that the recent hot weather to have hit Ireland will play a part in any risks associated with the expected bad weather over the coming days.

This is because the mixture of rubber and car oil which dried into the roads during the hot spell and the surging rainwater will make routes slippery and journeys particularly hazardous, said Mr Brett.

“The issue we face, after this reasonable period of fine weather, is the build-up of rubber, oil, and grime on the road and when we get heavy rain like is forecast, that actually makes roads very, very greasy and very, very grimy,” he said.

“The risk of skidding in these kind of conditions is significantly increased,.”

The latest weather alert comes after communities in East Cork witnessed a shock “cloud burst” phenomenon on Tuesday night which saw floods ravage some areas while others just miles away remained bone dry.

Both Midleton and Castlemartyr and were particularly badly affected, with the clean-up in the areas continuing yesterday.

Noel O’Keeffe, Cork County Council senior engineer, said while there is a risk of further flooding in these areas, as well as in Skibbereen and Clonakilty in West Cork, it is highly unlikely to be on the same scale as the devastating Nov 2009 crisis.

At the ESB dam near Cork City yesterday afternoon, water levels were still five times lower than the rates seen during the disastrous flooding almost three years ago.

Meanwhile, an ice cream salesman took it upon himself to put a smile on people’s faces on one of the wettest days of the year — and maybe drum up some much-needed business.

David Purcell braved the torrential downpour that drenched Killarney, Co Kerry, yesterday to take to the streets with a petition to stop the rain.

He stopped bemused tourists and locals in their tracks and managed to collect dozens of signatures.

“At least it brought a smile to their faces on an otherwise miserable day,” said David, 20, who has a summer job in the local Murphy’s ice-cream store.

He plans to hand-deliver the petition to the town hall in Killarney later today.

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