As Storm Barra continues to batter Ireland, the public have been warned that it will be "many more hours" before it finally subsides.
There are now around 38,000 homes and businesses without power, and the storm has led to widespread transport disruption and flooding nationwide.
- More than 38,000 homes and businesses are without power across the country - down from around 50,000 this afternoon.
- Flights have been cancelled out of Cork Airport
- Flooding in Cork and Kerry with widespread reports of trees being down.
- A status Orange wind warning for Cork and Kerry is in place until 6am tomorrow
- A status Red wind warning is now in place for Clare in place until 1am on Wednesday.
- Orange warnings are also in place for Limerick, Waterford, Galway, Mayo, Wexford, Dublin, Louth, Wicklow East Meath, Leitrim and Sligo.
- Vaccination centres in Cork and Kerry are closed.
- Schools, higher education institutions and childcare facilities are to remain shut on Wednesday in all counties affected by Orange and Red weather warnings.
Despite some people going for walks near coastal areas, Keith Leonard, chairman of the National Emergency Coordination Committee, says the 'weather bomb' event is not over and more high winds are expected tonight as the storm tracks across the country.
“The storm is not over. And I want to reiterate that to people now,” he said.
Mr Leonard said he was not in a position to clarify how many HSE vaccination centres are affected by the storm but urged people to check with the HSE for up to date information.
With a combination of high winds and high tides expected this evening, the situation is concerning but Mr Leonard said widespread flooding is not expected.
Mr Leonard warned it could be “a few days” before all power to rural areas could be restored given the dynamic situation the storm is presenting.
Dublin has now been upgraded to Status Orange. As referenced in our earlier statement all schools in Status Orange and Red areas will remain closed tomorrow 8th December. #StormBarra https://t.co/MLUipWjqNA— Department of Education (@Education_Ire) December 7, 2021
The storm is the first major Atlantic storm this winter, with violent gusts of 157km/h recorded at the Fastnet lighthouse since the early morning, where the wind speeds are averaging almost 135km/h.
Met Éireann issued a rare "threat to life" warning and red weather alert in Cork, Kerry and Clare ahead of the storm.
More than 38,000 homes and businesses are without power across the country.
The ESB said the damage is mainly attributable to fallen trees on overhead lines as a result of the high winds.
It said further disruptions are expected with the storm still crossing the country and ESB teams will respond to all electricity outages once it is safe to do so.
“With a red weather warning in the southwest in effect until tonight, this may mean our crews may not be mobilised on the ground until the worst of the severe weather passes.”
Apologies to 38K customers without power. We are restoring power where possible, weather conditions continue to make it difficult, so unfortunately many will remain without supply overnight. Estimated Restoration times on https://t.co/hWag1LtpfF. https://t.co/TX6XAc0NyW pic.twitter.com/irFkX6cgr1— ESB Networks (@ESBNetworks) December 7, 2021
Meanwhile, Cork city escaped significant property damage this morning after high tide passed with flooding confined to low-lying streets only.
The River Lee breached its banks on several low lying quays, as expected, in the half-hour ahead of the high spring tide just before 7.30am.
It spilled over the quays on Morrison’s Island and reached the South Mall, which was reduced to one lane of traffic for a short period.
But the floodwaters did not reach Oliver Plunkett St and water on other low-lying streets had receded by 8.30am.
“We didn’t get the maximum of what was possible and we don’t anticipate property damage,” the city council’s director of operations, David Joyce said.
“The winds not as high as they could have been around this time and we are hopeful that we will escape a major flooding event.”
President of the Cork Business Association, Eoin O’Sullivan, said it had been another sleepless night for business owners in flood risk areas in the city centre as they prepared for the worst. But he said everyone was thankful that the city escaped significant property damage.
“Flood warnings like this cause unnecessary stress. It has been an extremely difficult time for many traders over the last 18-months and if we can avoid situations like this, we should, especially when the city council has a solution in relation to flooding on Morrison’s Island,” he said.
“The delay on that project is disappointing but hopefully we will see progress on it in the coming months. It should be a priority for local government to get that flood defence scheme in place to protect citizens and business.”
In Fermoy, gardaí have warned road users against travelling in high winds after a heavy goods was vehicle overturned by strong winds.
The HGV overturned on the M8 between Junction 13 and 15.
Winds are currently making driving conditions hazardous, especially for more vulnerable road users such as high-sided vehicles, cyclists & motorcyclists, gardaí said.
No serious injuries were reported.
A number of streets were flooded in Youghal, East Cork, this morning, with some premises affected, and the Bailick Road in Midleton also flooded, but no premises were affected.
There are numerous reports of trees down, particularly on roads leading into Bandon, and a number of roads are also impassable due to flooding.
Bere Island resident Helen Riddle said the West Cork island was badly impacted by the storm and some residents were completely cut off during power outages.
"No island ferries running today, no mobile coverage where I live so if power goes again so does the broadband router so we’re completely cut off," she said on Twitter.
Independent Cllr Danny Collins said that although some 23 premises in Bantry were hit by the floods, all those he spoke to suffered minor flooding.
“The flooding started around 6.30am with a high tide and coastal surge. Luckily, Cork County Council and the Fire Brigade were there to pump that water out again. They had six pumps going all morning.
“It could have been a lot worse,” he said.
Aer Lingus, which had cancelled its early morning flights from Cork Airport today, has now cancelled its Cork to London Heathrow service which was due to depart Cork at 5.30pm and its London Heathrow to Cork flight which was to arrive at Cork at 9pm.
Irish Rail says all of its services are operating but there are reduced speeds in operation between Mallow and Cork/Tralee as a safety precaution, with delays expected.
In Kerry, thousands of people have been left without power and flooding has been reported in areas around Tralee.
Kerry County Council reported flooding in Tralee at Godfrey Place, Prince's Quay and Ballyard Road and had had pumps in place since 5am.
There are also flooded areas in Fossa and Ballylongford.
Flooding is also affecting The Tankard at Kilfenora, and Ballyheigue, as well as at Ballyroe Hotel on the Ardfert road, and on the Killarney to Killorglin road.
There were trees down on the N71 at Gortamullen and on the Roughty Rd in Kenmare. There is also a tree down near Killaha on Castletownbere Rd and one down at Brookhill, Kilgobnet.
There are also reports of a tree down in Killarney, outside the Lough Guitane National School
All Bus Éireann services in the county have been cancelled until at least 9pm, and TFI Local Link Kerry bus services have also been cancelled.
Kerry Cancer Support Group Health Link coaches to Cork and Limerick from the county have also been cancelled.
All planned elective surgery in University Hospital Kerry have been cancelled, as have outpatient appointments and procedures.
In addition, all Covid-19 vaccination centres and test centres have been closed.
All Post Offices are closed across the county and there will be no deliveries or collections.
In addition, all three Cara Credit Union offices are closed, as are all Bank of Ireland, AIB and Ulster Bank and Permanent TSB branches.
The National Parks and Wildlife Service have closed Killarney National Park and Killarney House and Gardens and Muckross House have also been shut.
As in Cork, All Munster Technological University buildings in Kerry are closed along with all Kerry ETB buildings.
Various volunteer groups have also been affected, including SVP Listowel, which has been forced to cancel its meals on wheels service today.
Speaking earlier, Taoiseach Micheál Martin urged people to take care and heed the warnings.
"This is a very, very serious storm," he warned.
“I think it's very important that we get the message out there to the public at large that we are dealing with a very serious storm on Tuesday and right into Wednesday – particularly our coastlines, people must avoid at all costs."
Bus Éireann suspended all services, including its school transport services in Cork and Kerry for the day.
The cancellations will also affect all routes operating into or out of the status red areas, including its Expressway services 13, 14, 40 and 51.
The storm has also caused widespread disruption to the health service, especially in Cork and Kerry, where the HSE said:
- All Covid-19 vaccination centres and test centres in Cork and Kerry will close, with appointments being rescheduled as soon as possible;
- The South/South West Hospital Group has cancelled all elective inpatient and outpatient appointments and procedures in Cork University Hospital, Bantry and Mallow General Hospitals, the Mercy University Hospital, the South Infirmary Victoria Hospital and University Hospital Kerry – except for time-critical cases;
- There will be no schools immunisation appointments on Tuesday and day services for older people, in disability services and in mental health services, will be closed.
The UL Hospitals group said that it was cancelling all outpatient procedures from 2.30pm for the rest of the day.
All appointments at Covid-19 vaccination centres in the Midwest have also been cancelled.
The National Ambulance Service said it would prioritise emergency calls but it asked people to think before dialling 999.
“The response to emergency calls may be hindered by road conditions and the number of emergency calls at any particular time. Personnel will do their utmost to reach those in greatest need of our emergency services,” a spokesperson said.
Local authority buildings are closed, with council staff advised to work from home, while its services focus on responding to weather-related, life-threatening or critical incidents only.
All court sittings in Cork have been cancelled, the city’s historic English Market is closed, while Aldi and Lidl are shut all of their stores in Cork and Kerry.
Driver theory test centres in Cork, Tralee and Killarney, are closed and candidates who were due to test in these locations will be contacted to have their tests rescheduled.
Fota Wildlife Park and the giant Glow Cork Christmas Ferris Wheel on Grand Parade is also closed.
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