Storm Barra: Everything you need to know as it arrives on our shores

Storm Barra: Everything you need to know as it arrives on our shores
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IRELAND IS BRACED for the arrival of Storm Barra, which is due to arrive on our shores today.

The storm is set to bring high winds and heavy rainfall across the country, with some counties also expecting flooding in coastal areas.

Met Éireann has issued several wind and rain warnings across several counties while Taoiseach Michéal Martin said yesterday that some warnings may be upgraded as the storm draws nearer.

As we await Storm Barra’s imminent arrival, here’s everything you need to know.

What weather warnings are in place?

A Status Red wind warning for counties Cork, Clare and Kerry will be in place from 6am this morning until 9pm this evening.

Met Éireann said that coastal flooding is expected in these two counties due to a combination of high waves, storm surge and high tide, which will also likely cause disruptions to power and travel.  

A Status Orange wind warning will be in place from today until tomorrow in Clare, Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Waterford, Galway, Mayo and Wexford.

Winds are expected to reach mean speeds of 65 to 80 km/hr, with severe or damaging gusts expected to reach up to 130 km/hr.

There is also a Status Orange wind warning in place for Dublin, Louth, Wicklow and east Meath until 1pm today.

A Status Yellow wind and rain warning is in place nationwide from today until 6pm tomorrow. 

With dangerous conditions expected at sea, there are also several marine warnings in place along all Irish coasts. 

A Status Red storm warning is in place from Roche’s Point to Valentia to Erris Head from 7am today until midnight.

A Status Orange storm warning is also in place from Erris Head to Strangford Lough to Roche’s Point and on the Irish Sea. This will be in place until midnight.

There is also a Status Yellow gale warning from Roche’s Point to Valentia to Erris Head.

What has been impacted by the storm?

Schools, colleges and creches in Red and Orange warning areas will not open today following advice from Government. 

The Department of Education yesterday advised all schools in the areas covered by the red and orange warnings not to open due to the approaching storm.

A statement from the department said: “Due to the significant nature of Storm Barra, as forecast by Met Éireann and to give sufficient notice to schools and parents/guardians, the Department is advising that all schools covered by the Red Alert and Orange warning from Met Éireann should not open tomorrow, 7 December.”

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.

The Department of Higher Education advised all universities, colleges and further education facilities covered by the Red and Orange wind warnings not to open today, while the Department of Children said that all early learning and care and school-age childcare services should also shut.

The HSE has closed services and cancelled appointments in several counties because of the storm.

Covid-19 vaccination centres in Clare, Cork, Galway, Kerry, Leitrim, Mayo and Sligo will not be operating.

Test centres in Cork and Kerry are also cancelled along with BreastCheck appointments in Kerry, Limerick, Tipperary and Waterford.

Aldi said yesterday that is to shut its Clare, Cork and Kerry stores ahead of the storm.

An spokesperson for the supermarket chain said: “Due to the Status Red weather warning, our stores in Cork and Kerry will be closed throughout Tuesday, while our stores in Clare will be closed from 3pm on Tuesday and reopen at 9am Wednesday. We are monitoring the weather situation closely and if there are any changes we will communicate this.”

“The health and safety of all our customers and store teams is our priority.”

AIB has said that its branches in Cork, Clare and Kerry will remain closed today due to the storm. It also said that its Abbeyfeale branch will also remain closed as staff working there are travelling from impacted locations.

The Courts Service also confirmed that Courts in Kerry, Cork, Clare and Newcastle West are “cancelled to future dates”.

Racing has also been impacted by the storm. The Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board, in conjunction with Horse Racing Ireland, confirmed yesterday that racing fixtures scheduled for today in Tramore have been postponed until Thursday 9 December.

It said in a statement: “Following consultation with Met Eireann and various stakeholders and in light of the weather forecast which currently has a Status Red and Status Orange weather warning in place for parts of Ireland, the fixture scheduled for Tramore on Tuesday 7 December has been postponed.”

Have transport services been impacted?

A number of flights arriving and departing from Cork Airport today have been cancelled.

A spokesperson for Shannon Airport told The Journal that there have been no confirmed flight cancellations yet, and that they are awaiting direction from their airline customers.

However, they said that due to the Status Red weather warning in place in Clare, “we strongly advise intending passengers to check with their airline before travelling to the airport. Flight information will be posted on all Shannon Airport social media platforms and the airport website as it becomes available.”

All flights to and from Dublin Airport are operating as normal, but the DAA has also advised all passengers to check their flight status in advance of travel with their airline and to allow extra time for journeys to and from the airport today.

Shannon Ferries has cancelled all sailings for today due to the impending storm.

Irish Ferries has also cancelled a number of services due to the adverse weather conditions. 

The 2.30pm service from Dublin to Holyhead on its Epsilon ship is in doubt, while both the 8.15am and 8.15pm service from Holyhead to Dublin have been cancelled.

However, they said that passengers can be accommodated on their M.V.Ulysses, which is still in operation. 

All services from Rosslare to Pembroke have been cancelled for today. The 2.45am service from Pembroke to Rosslare on Wednesday has also been cancelled.

Stena Line has cancelled the 7.30am and 6.15pm service from Rosslare to Fishguard.

The 2.45pm service from Dublin to Holyhead “may be subject to delay” due to the weather. The 9am service from Holyhead to Dublin will now depart at 8.30am.

What have other authorities said?

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) is advising road users in areas affected by the Status Red warning to avoid any travel during the storm window.

Those in areas affected by the Status Orange warnings are being asked to consider postponing their journey until the storm has passed.

The RSA said all road users to be aware of the dangers once the storm has passed, as they may encounter potentially hazardous road conditions such as flooded roads and downed lines, trees and other debris which could block roads.

Pedestrians are advised to wear bright clothing with reflective armbands or a reflective belt and to take extra care when crossing the road or cycling in extremely windy conditions.

Cyclists should ensure that they and their bike are visible to other road users by investing in a good set of front and rear lights and by wearing bright and light reflective clothing.

The Irish Coast Guard is appealing to all mariners and coastal communities to be mindful of  the severe weather warnings.

Walkers are advised to avoid any exposed areas, including seafront and cliff walkways, while all forms of open water recreation should be avoided, including by experienced practitioners, as it may result in arousing public concerns and causing rescue services to be alerted.

Coast Guard Operations Manager Micheál O’Toole appealed to the public to remain vigilant, to avoid any unnecessary travel and to monitor Met Éireann weather forecasts, saying: “Stay back, Stay high, Stay dry.”

“If you see somebody in trouble on the water or on the coast, dial 112 or use marine VHF channel 16, and ask for the Coast Guard,” he said.

Yesterday, the National Emergency Coordination group conducted a virtual meeting with Met Éireann, the Office of Public Works, local authority severe weather assessment teams and government departments and agencies.

The Department said all local authorities have activated their crisis management teams and local coordination groups, while coastal flood defences are being put in place.

They also said that ESB Networks are ready to mobilise responses to restore power once the impact of the storm is known, while the Powercheck app will enable users to gather updates on estimated restoration times and safety regarding fallen lines.

An Garda Síochána is also appealing to the public to take care and exercise caution once the storm hits.

The key public safety advice from Gardaí is as follows:

    All unnecessary travel should be avoided where Red and Orange level wind warnings are in place. These winds will make driving conditions hazardous, especially for more vulnerable road users such as cyclists, pedestrians, motorcyclists and high sided vehicles.

  • Road users should pay particular attention to the risk posed by fallen trees, flying debris and flooded roads.
  • High seas and wave activity will make coastal areas hazardous. The public are advised to stay away from coastal areas/cliff walks during this period.
  • People are advised to remove or secure patio and garden furniture, rubbish bins and any loose items from around buildings.
  • Those involved in building work should review hoarding and scaffolding in light of heavy rain and winds expected.
  • Members of the public should stay away from any fallen power lines, members of the public should assume that they are live. If you see fallen or damaged wires, keep clear and phone ESB Networks immediately on 1800 372 999/021 238 2410
  • People are advised not to park any vehicle in an area that may be prone to flooding.
  • People who are considering recreation activities in waterways / coast line areas are asked to reconsider this, as it may result in Emergency Services being called to attend and diverting them from other issues.
  • Local authorities will provide updated information on flooding and local conditions. People are advised to follow updated weather forecasts throughout the weekend.
  • We advise the public to regularly monitor as regular updates will be provided throughout the next two days.
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