The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, has urged farmers, fishers and people in rural areas to be extra vigilant and take precautions as Storm Barra approaches the country.

The exact impact of the storm is yet to be determined but the minister said that it is important that sensible steps are taken in advance rather than when it arrives.

Storm Barra will bring very strong and disruptive winds and heavy rain to Ireland on Tuesday and Wednesday, with the strongest and most impactful winds expected across western areas.

Met Éireann has issued a Status Red wind warning for counties Cork, Kerry and Clare tomorrow (Tuesday, December 7), as Storm Barra is expected to bring severe and damaging wind gusts in excess of 130km/h. 

A Status Orange wind warning is also in place for many western counties and some eastern counties, with a Status Yellow wind warning covering the rest of the country. 

A Status Yellow rain warning is also in place nationwide, as the strong winds from Storm Barra are accompanied by heavy rain.

Many marts and events in the south west of the country have already been cancelled as a result of the weather warning.

Minister McConalogue said: “I am urging everyone to think safety first as we face into Storm Barra. This is set to be one of the strongest storms we have seen in some time.

“All life is precious, so we must take all steps to protect ourselves and each other. Farming and fishing are exposed more than most to such storms.

“The fishing fleet is particularly impacted as the force of the storm will be felt most along the western coastline. Fishers should take particular care, heed all weather warnings and ensure vessels are securely berthed in advance of the storm.

“More generally people should stay back from the shoreline and remain on high ground,” McConalogue added.

Farm safety risks from Storm Barra

Minister of State with responsibility for farm safety, Martin Heydon, added: “Staying safe on the farm is the main focus of this year’s ‘Be Winter Ready’ campaign.

“Farmers and all those in rural areas need to ensure that they are ready for the approaching storm. 

“Farming is a high-risk occupation, and it is even more so when severe weather arrives. So, take the time to ensure that you and your farm are prepared for the approaching Storm Barra,” the junior minister added.

“This means taking the time to do a check of the farmyard to ensure loose objects and buildings are secure. Priority is obviously the safety of people and I would reiterate the advice that care should be taken. 

“Wait until the storm abates to check on livestock or anything that may have become loose or displaced, wear a high-vis jacket, bring a mobile phone and make sure someone knows where you are going.” 

Minister Heydon ended by asking people to check on elderly neighbours in rural areas and most importantly, to avoid any risks.

Storm damage

Minister Heydon is also reminding landowners of the dangers of fallen trees, in particular the impact this can have on electric wires.

He said that the assessment of damage in such circumstances should only be carried out by appropriately trained professionals from the ESB.

Where ESB cables are not impacted, great care should be taken in removing such trees and especially in the use of chainsaws.

For animal welfare issues connected with severe weather, the minister is advising animal owners to keep in touch with advisorS or contact the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) Animal Welfare Helpline on:

  • Call save: 0761 064408;
  • Phone: 01 6072379.

DAFM public offices in Status Red areas, such as Cork, Kerry and Clare will be closed.

Be Winter Ready

The main objectives of the ‘Be Winter-Ready’ information campaign are:

  • To provide practical advice on how best to prepare for the coming winter;
  • To ensure the public are aware of where advice and help can be found, if needed;
  • To reassure the public that preparations are being made and arrangements have been put in place to ensure that there will be a coordinated response to severe weather events.

The ‘Be Winter Ready leaflet’ included the following important points that are of particular relevance in the face of Storm Barra:

  • Farmers are advised to take time to ensure that their farms are secure;
  • Store light items indoors, and tidy the farmyard;
  • Ensure all clean water drains are free of debris and the outfall is clear;
  • Ensure all gates are properly hanging and secured using steel hangers;
  • All gates should be fastened using bolts or chains. Never use twine to secure a gate;
  • Ensure all doors are hanging on hinges and have strong fasteners to keep them closed;
  • Ensure all pen dividers and feed barriers in animal housing are properly secured using steel fixings;
  • Ensure all sliding doors are hanging correctly, are freely running and are secured at the bottom;
  • Ensure all gutters on buildings are secure and clean;
  • Ensure all roof sheets are secure. When working at heights always hire in suitable lifting equipment – never work off a ladder;
  • Immediately prior to the storm, turn off all electrical power in sheds (not fences);
  • Move machinery into sheltered areas;
  • Alternative power generation may also be needed for milking or water pumping;
  • In the event that sheeting, doors or items become loose or are displaced during Storm Barra, do not attempt to repair it until after the storm has fully passed.

Storm Barra general advice

The Irish Coast Guard, Road Safety Authority (RSA), An Garda Síochána and local authorities have issued the following public safety advice:

  • Stay away from all coastal areas for the duration of the Met Éireann warnings;
  • All road users should be aware of the hazardous traveling conditions, and only necessary journeys should be undertaken. Motorists should slow down and be aware of the dangers of fallen trees and debris. High sided vehicles are particularly vulnerable during this time;
  • As conditions will vary throughout the event, people need to take account of the local conditions and advice from their local authority;
  • The public are warned electricity wires are always live, never approach. If you see fallen or damaged wires, keep clear and phone ESB Networks immediately on 1800 372 999/021 238 2410;
  • Should red level warnings be issued, the public are advised to shelter in place for the duration of the warning.