Hurricane Ophelia: Three fatalities, 360,000 without power, as storm rages nationwide
Three people have been killed due to the severe impact of Hurricane Ophelia, with Gardai confirming that another man has died after the car he was driving was struck by a falling tree in Dundalk, Co. Louth at 2:45pm.
Just after midday, a young man in his early 30s was killed while clearing a fallen tree with a chainsaw in Cahir, Co. Tipperary.
Earlier this morning, a woman in her 50s died after her car was also hit by a falling tree in Aglish, Co. Waterford. A female passenger in her 70s was also injured in the incident. She was removed to Waterford Regional Hospital with non life-threatening injuries.
Gardai are urging all road users to remain indoors and not to travel unless your journey is absolutely necessary. Weather conditions in west Waterford, and Waterford city, are currently described as severe – with reports of numerous falling trees due to high winds.
In excess of 360,000 homes and businesses are without power as Hurricane Ophelia, the worst storm to hit the country since 1961, has left a trail of destruction nationwide. An additional 18,000 homes and businesses are without power in northern Ireland.
Watch Hurricane #Ophelia live as it tracks across Ireland
Posted by Agriland on Monday, 16 October 2017
A number of marts have been postponed today including: Tralee, Kenmare, Castleisland, Bandon, Dungarvan and Corrin.
The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and all agricultural colleges nationwide are closed today.
Additionally, Coillte has closed all their forests across the country today following Met Eireann’s status red wind warning for every county nationwide.
The violent storm is then expected to move westwards throughout Connacht and the north west, arriving in northern Ireland later this afternoon.
‘Extra vigilance needed’
Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, is urging farmers, fishermen and all rural dwellers to be “extra vigilant” and take precautions.
I urge farmers, and all people in rural areas, to ensure that they are ready for the approaching storm and ask them to follow closely the advice of the authorities. Priority is obviously the safety of people, and I would reiterate the advice that only essential travel should be taken.
“For farmers they should ensure that their yards are secured, by securing loose objects.”
The minister is reminding landowners of the dangers of fallen trees, in particular the impact this can have on electric wires.
He is advising that assessment of damage in such circumstances, should only be carried out by appropriately trained professionals from electricity companies.
Anyone traveling up sunhill be careful!!
Posted by Tina Walker on Monday, October 16, 2017
He said shed doors should be securely fastened, and older slate-roofs sheds avoided.
If you have to check on livestock, bring a family member or neighbour and in more exposed and remote areas, wait until the storm abates.
The minister is also asking people to check on elderly neighbours in rural areas, and to avoid any risks. He has asked that fishermen take particular care, as the force of the storm will be felt most along the western coastline.
His department will continue to input to the Committee on Emergency Planning, which was due to meet again this morning. In the meantime, officials from the department and its agencies will be on the ground monitoring closely the impacts of the storm around the country.
— Simon Coveney (@simoncoveney) October 16, 2017
Earlier today, the National Emergency Co-ordination Committee gathered to prepare for the arrival of Ophelia, with wind speeds in excess of 80kph, and gusts in excess of 130kph expected.
Red weather alerts had been issued for counties Wexford, Waterford, Kerry, Cork, Clare, Galway and Mayo.
However, Met Eireann has now placed the entire country under red alert – its highest weather warning.
All schools, colleges and creches will be closed tomorrow as a result of the storm.
Although Ophelia is expected to have lost its hurricane status by the time it hits Irish shores, the Atlantic storm is projected to be one of the worst to hit the country in 50 years.
Met Eireann said: “Ex-Hurricane Ophelia is forecast to track directly over Ireland during the daytime tomorrow.
Violent and destructive gusts are forecast with all areas at risk, particularly the south-west and south in the morning, and eastern counties in the afternoon.
“Also heavy rain and storm surges along some coasts will result in flooding. There is potential risk to lives. added Met Éireann.
Officials at Met Eireann have warned that the severe winds and heavy rainfall could potentially cause structural damage, transport disruption, dangerous marine conditions due to high seas, and flooding in some areas.
Sandbags have already been distributed in some areas in advance of possible coastal flooding.
While Met Eireann has confirmed that Ophelia is the most powerful hurricane this far east of the United States on record, officials said the track of the hurricane has been “very consistent” in recent days and is not expected to change course.
An Garda Siochana are appealing to the public not to make unnecessary journeys and to avoid coastal areas
Sean Hogan, of the National Directorate of Emergency Management, said everyone must be cognisant of the magnitude of the storm. He said public safety is of “primary concern”.
The hurricane is currently in transition to ex-tropical status, while maintaining hurricane force winds. Met Eireann said it is likely to hit with category two strength.
— Jimmy Stafford (@JimmystaffordDJ) October 16, 2017
Due to the storm’s danger, Met Eireann has consulted with the National Hurricane Centre in the US. Officials there said Ophelia is “forecast to remain a powerful storm with hurricane force winds when it reaches Ireland on Monday…strong winds and rains will arrive well in advance of the cyclone centre”.
Earlier today Met Eireann stated:
At present, the strongest and most damaging winds are now forecast to affect Munster and south Leinster, particularly the southwest, south and Irish Sea coasts – with the heaviest rainfall accumulations in Connacht, west Ulster and west Munster.