#OPHELIA: Experts advise to 'prepare to protect lives' as cyclone approaches Limerick

Fintan Walsh

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Fintan Walsh

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fintan.walsh@limerickleader.ie

#OPHELIA: Experts advise to 'prepare to protect lives' as cyclone approaches Limerick

The cyclone is expected to hit closer to Ireland than previously predicted Picture: Windy.com

THE NATIONAL Hurricane Centre in Florida has urged all those affected by the Hurricane Ophelia to make “preparations to protect lives and property” as it approaches Limerick and the Irish west coast on Monday morning. 

After Limerick was issued an ‘orange alert’ this Saturday, it is likely that Met Éireann will upgrade it to a ‘red alert’ this Sunday night. 

Met Éireann confirmed this weekend that Ophelia is the most powerful Atlantic storm to hit this far east, as it tracks close to or over Ireland between 6am and 6pm. 

The storm could affect hundreds of Shannon Airport passengers, as it has now asked people to check “flight status with your airline before making your way to the airport”. 

The National Hurricane Centre, based in Miami, said in a report this morning that “a powerful post-tropical cyclone” is expected to hit Ireland. 

Affected areas will see maximum winds of between 105kph and 165kph it said. 

“Gale-force winds are expected to begin across southern Ireland by early Monday morning and gradually spread northward across the country during the day. Hurricane-force winds are expected to reach the southern portions of Ireland by Monday afternoon and spread inland across the country into Monday night. Preparations to protect lives and property should be rushed tocompletion by this afternoon,” it said. It added: “A dangerous storm surge is expected to produce significant coastal flooding near and to the east of where the center makes landfall. Near the coast, the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves.”

MetAlert Ireland, an independent weather awareness group, said that it considers Limerick will join the list of ‘red alert’ counties this Sunday. 

It added that flooding, power outages, felled trees and road debris are expected throughout the day. 

Limerick City and County Council have installed flood barriers, in advance of the storm’s arrival. It is understood that council officials are keeping a watching brief and will be guided by the National Emergency Team, as it discusses the matter this Sunday.

All schools in Clare are expected to close for the day, following Met Eireann’s ‘red alert’ warning this Saturday. 

Parteen National School contacted parents this weekend, stating: “School will be closed on Monday, October 16th due to the ‘Red Weather Warning’ relating to wind that is in place in Co Clare. If the weather warning is downgraded and we can open up, we will be notified tomorrow.”

Department of Education guidelines around ‘red’ wind alerts say that schools should consider not opening. If a school decides to re-open, they must consult with the gardaí, public transport or local authority. 

Croom Family Resource Centre, which includes pre-school and after-school, will be closed on Monday. 

The National Hurricane Centre has advised people in Ireland to keep a watchful eye on Met Eireann updates, and it will provide an update at 4pm on Sunday.