THE majority of schools in West Cork have already taken the decision to close tomorrow, as a red alert wind warning has been issued as Hurricane Ophelia approaches.
The hurricane, which is due to make landfall on the West Cork coast at about 6am, is likely to cause extensive structural damage and the associated heavy rainfall – under an orange alert – may cause flooding.
The Department of Communications and Natural Resources has issued a direction that all schools in the red alert counties, which include Kerry and Cork, should close tomorrow. While this is a ‘direction’, school boards are at liberty to make their own decisions whether they should open or not, so parents are advised to contact their schools, or check their social media pages, to confirm if their own schools will be closed or not.
This afternoon, an emergency management committee for the Cork and Kerry region, co-ordinated by An Garda Síochána at Anglesea Street, issued the following advice: ‘A severe weather warning has been issued by Met Eireann for the counties along the south, south west and west coast of Ireland, especially Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Clare, Waterford, Wexford, Galway and Mayo.
The weather warning is a STATUS RED and states as follows: Hurricane Ophelia is expected to transition to a post-tropical storm as it approaches our shores on Monday bringing severe winds and stormy conditions.
Mean wind speeds in excess of 80 km/h and gusts in excess of 130km/h are expected, potentially causing structural damage and disruption, with dangerous marine conditions due to high seas and potential flooding. The warning is in force from 9am on Monday 16th October to 3am on Tuesday 17th October.
This warning was updated as of 1pm on today, Sunday 15th October. The times of the warnings are subject to change, depending on the path of the storm. The following is the advice issued by the Region South (Cork & Kerry) Major Emergency Management Steering Group:
1. People within the areas to which the STATUS RED weather warning has been issued are advised not to travel during the period that the STATUS RED warning is in force.
2. All schools in the area of the STATUS RED warning are to close.
3. It is highly likely that there will be high storm surges in tidal areas and therefore residents and businesses in areas subject to tidal flooding, (normally areas affected by high astronomical conditions) are advised to take measures to protect their property. High tides for some coastal areas are as follows: Valentia - 3.15pm Bantry - 3.20pm Clonakilty - 4pm Cork City - 4pm.
4. People are advised not to travel on pedal cycles and motor cycles, as these types of vehicles are not suitable for use in the storm force winds expected.
5. We also advise that high-sided vehicles are not to travel on roads in the areas of the STATUS RED warning as these vehicle are prone to being turned over in the storm force winds predicted.
6. People are warned not to approach all exposed or other coastal areas, not to engage in outdoor activities, eg hill walking, surfing, mountaineering etc.
7. People are advised and encouraged to check their own property today, Sunday 15th October, and ensure that steps are taken to secure any loose objects on their property, for example, garden furniture, wheelie bins, etc, that could be damaged, or if blown, could cause significant damage, during the storm. We also ask that you look in on your elderly and vulnerable relatives/neighbour who may not be in a position to secure their property. Similarly, business are requested to attend to any property that could become loose during the course of the storm.
8. It is envisaged that there will be significant damage caused by winds, especially in the nature of fallen trees, with the additional issues surrounding loss of electricity to a substantial number of homes and businesses.
The power outages could last in some areas for a period of up to three days. In the event of fallen electricity wires, please assume that these wires are live and do not approach or touch the wires. Please report any fallen wires to the emergency services. Please listen to local media/social media for updates on the progress of the storm and associated warnings and/or advice issued by the emergency services. Please heed this advice.
9. Further information on services over the next 48 hours can be obtained from the following websites: Cork County Council at www.corkcoco.ie and Cork City Council at www.corkcity.ie. Also keep up-to-date on weather alerts at met.ie.'
A number of sporting events and other events have been cancelled, along with all driving tests taking place in the red alert counties.
The RSA will be in touch at a later date to reschedule your driving test. The RSA said it apologises for any inconvenience caused but the decision has been made in the interests of public safety.
While farmers are urged not to go alone to check on their animals, it is also advised that domestic animals be kept indoors during the storm.