#OPHELIA: Limerick on 'Red Alert' as powerful cyclone approaches

Fintan Walsh

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Fintan Walsh

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fintan.walsh@limerickleader.ie

#OPHELIA: Limerick on 'Red Alert' as powerful cyclone approaches

Red Alert has been issued for Limerick Picture: Windy.com

MET Éireann has officially upgraded Limerick’s weather status to a ‘Red Alert’ this Sunday afternoon, as a “powerful post-tropical cyclone” hits Ireland this Monday. 

On top of a 'Red' wind warning, Limerick will also experience a severe 'Code level orange' for heavy rain at times throughout the day. 

As a result, an exhaustive list of services are expected to close for the day. This includes community centres, schools, creches, public transport, and many other services. 

Bus Eireann confirmed shortly before 11pm this Sunday that no services will run until Monday afternoon at the earliest.

Court sittings scheduled for Monday have been postponed with the Courts Service saying it will review the situation regarding Tuesday.

The Department of Social Protection says all of its offices will remain closed while the UL Hospitals Group says all outpatient appointments, day surgery and elective procedures in University Hospital Limerick, University Maternity Hospital Limerick, Nenagh Hospital, Ennis Hospital, Croom Orthopaedic Hospital and St John’s Hospital have been cancelled.

Injury Units will remain open in Ennis and Nenagh Hospitals from 8am to 8pm and in St John’s Hospitals from 8am to 6pm and the Emergency Department in UHL remains open 24/7.

In response to the weather warning, Limerick City and County Council has issued a number of tips for people to stay safe as the Hurricane passes through.

Gardai have also issued a Road Safety Alert ahead of the expected high winds.

"People living in areas where a Red level weather warning has been issued should not make any non-essential journeys. There should be no cycling in RED zones and avoid where necessary elsewhere," said a spokesperson.

Drivers of high sided vehicles and motorcyclists are being urged to exercise caution and to be aware of the extreme danger posed by gale force winds as they are particularly vulnerable.

Limerick City and County Council has confirmed that all meetings scheduled for tomorrow have been cancelled while the Department of Justice is urging those due to travel to Dublin for a citizenship ceremony not to do so.

Minister for Education Richard Bruton has said that all schools 'Red Alert' areas, including Limerick, should remain closed on Monday. 

He said that in response to the imminent arrival of Storm Ophelia, the Department of Education and Skills "is now informing all schools in areas affected by Met Éireann’s status red wind alert that they are to act on the Department’s advice and remain closed tomorrow, Monday 16 October.

"For parents, this means that their children will not attend school tomorrow in any area where there is a status red wind alert already announced or announced in the intervening time."

ESB Networks says it is now at Red Weather Preparedness Level and that all internal resources are on alert and will be deployed to respond to all electricity outages once it is safe to do so.

"We continually monitor the forecasts and real time events on the electricity network and will deploy resources safely to these events. Updates will issue over the course of the storm," said a spokesperson.

Crews from ESB Networks will be dispatched to the affected areas without electricity supply, making the electricity network safe and assessing the damage, so that they can restore power as quickly and effectively as possible.

Meanwhile, in an alert this Sunday afternoon, Met Éireann said that 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 Metropolitan Mayor of Limerick, Cllr Sean Lynch has urged the public to take extra caution if they are travelling. 

"Look out for your neighbours, be cautious. I know the local authority are aware and they have the floor mechanisms in case we have any type of severe flooding. They will be on-call, and we will be ready to rock and roll. But individuals will have to take a responsible role as well. And if it is going to be severe as we have been led to believe, then we really have to exercise caution. Just be careful out there."

Hundreds of Shannon Airport passengers are expected to be affected by the severe weather.

A spokesperson issued a statement at 8.52pm, confirming that flights to and from Edinburgh, Birmingham and London/Heathrow have been cancelled. Shannon Airport will, however, continue operations otherwise. 

“Shannon Airport will remain open tomorrow, Monday 16th October. The safety of our passengers and staff is our first priority. We would ask passengers to contact their airline with regard to updates on schedule changes for tomorrow. However, at this point we are aware of the following flight cancellations: Aer Lingus Regional EI3675/3672 from and to Edinburgh and EI 3639/3638 from and to Birmingham, and London/Heathrow EI381 and EI384 with Aer Lingus.

“Airlines will continue to advise passengers of schedule changes and we advise intending passengers to check the status of their flight with their airline before travelling to the airport tomorrow," the spokesperson said.

The airport has taken to Twitter to urge customers to “check your flight status with your airline before making your way to the airport”. 

The HSE told the Limerick Leader this Sunday that the “principal response agencies in Limerick of the Local Authority,An Garda Siochana and HSE are in consultation regarding contingency plans for the adverse weather indicated for Monday.

“We continue to take advice from the National Co ordination Centre and other sources.”

Limerick City and County Council has activated its flood barriers in the city and county, and has advised the public to urge caution. 

All schools and colleges are to remain closed tomorrow.

Mary Immaculate College will close its Limerick and Tipperary campuses in response to the severe weather while LIT and UL will also remain closed. 

"Students and staff are advised to remain at home and monitor alerts circulated by Met Éireann," said a spokesperson for Mary I.

AA Roadwatch and the Road Safety Authority are appealing to motorists not to make unnessary journeys tommorrow.

For people who are going to be affected by Hurricane Ophelia, here is a list of useful numbers

Emergency services - 999/112

Limerick City and County Council - 061 556000

Limerick Council (out of hours) - 061 417833

ESB Networks emergency line - 1850 372999

Gas Networks Ireland - 1850 205050