Storm Barra: Creches, Schools and third-level institutions in 12 counties ordered to close tomorrow

Storm Barra: Creches, Schools and third-level institutions in 12 counties ordered to close tomorrow

The status red warning will be in place from 6am until 9pm on Tuesday. Picture: Met Éireann

Met Éireann has warned the public not to make unnecessary journeys on Tuesday and Wednesday when the “violent” Storm Barra will hit Ireland.

A status Red wind warning has been issued for Cork, Kerry and Clare – the highest level warning Met Éireann issues. 

A status Orange warning has been issued for counties Limerick, Waterford, Galway, Mayo, Wexford, Dublin, Louth, Wicklow, Meath.

"Southwesterly winds later veering northwesterly will reach mean speeds in excess of 80km/h with severe or damaging gusts in excess of 130km/h," warned Met Éireann. 

"Due to a combination of high waves, storm surge and high tide, coastal flooding is expected. Disruption to power and travel are likely."

The status red warning will be in place from 6am until 9pm on Tuesday. 

Childcare facilities, Schools and third-level institutions

All schools and third-level education institutions covered by the Red and Orange weather warnings should not open tomorrow, according to the Department of Education.  

Met Éireann has advised that there is a strong possibility the status of counties currently under an Orange warning is likely to be upgraded to a Red.   

"All schools should keep up-to-date with the current weather warnings which are carried on all national and local news bulletins and in particular, any change in the status warning for their area."

In a later statement, the Department of Education also confirmed that it has instructed all of the country's third-level institutions to remain to close tomorrow also. 

"All third-level institutions should keep up-to-date with the current weather warnings which are carried on all national and local news bulletins and in particular any change in the status warning for their area," a spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth has advised that all early learning and care and school-age childcare services covered by the Red Alert and Orange warning from Met Éireann should also not open tomorrow.

"All services should keep up-to-date with the current weather warnings which are carried on all national and local news bulletins and in particular any change in the status warning for their area," the department said in a statement.

"Services which close due to Storm Barra will receive Force Majeure funding."

Earlier, a number of schools and other amenities confirmed they will close tomorrow due to the severe weather. 

This includes:

  • Several secondary and primary schools across Cork and Kerry have already announced that they will be closed tomorrow. Among the first to confirm a closure was Douglas Community School on the southside of Cork city, which had the roof of its gym ripped off during Storm Ophelia in October 2017, causing an estimated €500,000 worth of damage. It is advised to check directly with schools as many others are confirming they will not open tomorrow.
  • All Cork ETB schools, colleges and centres will move to online learning/remote working tomorrow, with all staff advised to work remotely.
  • UCC's campus will close at midnight and reopen on Wednesday, December 8. Teaching and research activities will take place online.
  • Munster Technological University will also be closing all of its Cork and Kerry campuses
  • Aer Lingus has cancelled its early morning flights from Cork Airport to London and Amsterdam tomorrow.
  • The HSE’s Covid-19 vaccination centre in Cork’s City Hall will close tomorrow. Several hundred vaccine appointments will be rescheduled. The testing and swabbing centres in Blackpool, on the South Douglas Road and in Dunmanway will be closed tomorrow too.
  • Driver Theory test centres in Cork, Tralee and Killarney, will also be closed and candidates who were due to test in these locations will be contacted to have their tests rescheduled.
  • Fota Wildlife Park and the city’s giant Glow Cork Christmas Ferris wheel on Grand Parade will also be closed.
  • Courts in Cork city will not open tomorrow.
  • Supermarket chains Aldi and Lidl have announced that its stores in Cork, Kerry and Clare will be shut tomorrow, while Tesco will close its stores in Cork and Kerry 
  • AIB has also said its banking or EBS branches in Cork, Kerry and Clare will not be opening

Speaking after the warning was issued, Taoiseach Michéal Martin said Tuesday would be "a very difficult day."

"It's very, very serious. We would urge people to stay at home and it's necessary. 

The Taoiseach urged those living in coastal areas to "avoid the coast at all costs." 

"There will be localised flooding and between those countries where we have a strong orange alert or red alerts, I think travel should be kept to a minimum and the usual precautions in terms of fallen trees and so on should be adhered to.

"This is a very, very serious storm," he added.

Sandbags are being made available in Cork until 7pm tonight with Cork City Council is bracing for “significant flooding” on some of the city’s low lying quays from early tomorrow morning.

The storm’s high winds and torrential rain will coincide with a high spring tide which is due just before 7.30am.

A storm surge of between 0.45m and 0.65m is forecast which will see flooding on Lower Glanmire Rd, South Terrace, Wandesford Quay, and Lavitts Quay.

The status red warning will be in place from 6am until 9pm on Tuesday. Cork and Kerry will then fall under a status orange warning until 6am on Wednesday.
The status red warning will be in place from 6am until 9pm on Tuesday. Cork and Kerry will then fall under a status orange warning until 6am on Wednesday.

Morrison’s Island is also expected to flood but at this stage, the authorities do not think the flooding will extend to the South Mall.

If flood waters breach the middle of the South Mall, Lower Oliver Plunkett St and the wider city centre area floods.

“This is a dynamic and active storm and it has been difficult to predict how it will impact on the flooding situation in Cork,” the council’s director of operations, David Joyce said.

We do expect substantial flooding on the quays but it is not predicted to be as bad at the October 2020 event.

“Traffic will be affected, disrupting some public transport, people on school runs and on work trips.” But the council did say there is still a potential flood risk on Lapps Quay, McSwiney Quay, Albert Quay, Kennedy Quay, Proby’s Quay, French’s Quay, Lancaster Quay, Sullivan’s Quay, South Mall, Oliver Plunkett Street and Lower Glanmire Road.

A number of road closures and traffic restrictions will be necessary. Diversions will be put in place to ensure traffic can still circulate and these will be introduced from early tomorrow morning to reduce the impact of traffic moving through standing water.

Any restrictions will be eased during the morning when possible.

A limited number of sandbags and gel sacks are being made available today, from 1pm and 8pm at Tramore Valley Park or from the council’s depot on Anglesea Terrace.

A status orange wind warning has been issued for Clare, Limerick and Galway while there is a status yellow wind warning for the rest of the country.

Both warnings will come into place at 6am on Tuesday and will last for 24-hours.

In Clare, Limerick and Galway winds will reach mean speeds of 65 to 80km/h with severe or damaging gusts of up to 130km/h.

“High waves, high tides, heavy rain and storm surge will lead to wave overtopping and a significant possibility of coastal flooding,” said Met Éireann who added that disruption to power and travel are likely.

Senior meteorologist Liz Walsh said that winds will be south to southeast in direction during the early part of the Tuesday and will gradually veer westerly as the day goes on. 

"So the strength of the wind will be dependent on your location and exposure to that particular direction. Some heavy falls of rain are likely too during Tuesday morning, these mainly across southern and southeastern counties with spot flooding possible."

Over the seas, the highest level marine warning has been issued for the south-west coast.

Storm Barra, an Atlantic depression, will bring very strong winds and spells of heavy rain across Ireland.

From Mizen Head to Loop Head to Slyne Head off the south coast, Met Éireann has issued a status red violent storm warning.

The warning will be in place from 3am tomorrow until 11pm.

“South winds, veering west to northwest will reach Violent Storm Force 11 during Tuesday on Irish coastal waters from Mizen Head to Loop Head to Slyne Head,” said the forecaster.

A couple try to negotiate the flood water at the pedestrian bridge on Morrison's Island in 2014. File picture: Dan Linehan
A couple try to negotiate the flood water at the pedestrian bridge on Morrison's Island in 2014. File picture: Dan Linehan

A status orange storm warning is in place from Slyne Head to Belfast Lough and from Dungarvan to Mizen Head while there is a status yellow gale warning from Belfast Lough to Howth Head to Dungarvan and on the Irish Sea.

Cork County Council said the Severe Weather Assessment Team convened this morning in response to these weather warnings and to review preparations.

The council urged the public to “stay high, stay dry and stay away from the coast, rivers and lakes”.

“With strong gusts and high waves predicted, people are urged to refrain from visiting coastal areas.”

It added that Dursey Cable Car will not operate once wind speeds exceed 55km/h and the Council has asked that people report issues such as fallen trees, flooding and road damage.

There will be heavy rain turning to sleet and snow on higher ground, she warned.

Evelyn Cusack, head of forecasting at Met Éireann told Newstalk Breakfast that the storm system is developing rapidly over the Atlantic at present and will hit Ireland’s western seaboard on Tuesday with strong gale force winds which will quickly extend across the country.

Met Éireann will meet with gardaí, local authorities and emergency services this morning to update the progress of the storm and provide advice on what precautionary measures should be taken.

“It will be a pretty horrid day”, added Ms Cusack who advised against cycling.

The high winds and heavy rain will continue throughout Wednesday, they will have moved on by Thursday.

On RTÉ Radio’s Morning Ireland, Ms Walsh warned that trees could be knocked down during the high winds.

She also advised that outdoor street furniture should be taken in or tied down and cautioned that Christmas decorations could be damaged.

“Don’t make unnecessary journeys,” she added.

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