National Emergency Group: Potential ‘life-threatening’ weather conditions

The National Emergency Coordination Group meeting this morning.

UPDATED 19:20

The National Emergency Coordination Group has warned of potentially “life-threatening” weather conditions and advised against all unnecessary travel on Monday, to stay away from coastal areas and to be on the lookout for flying debris.

The emergency grouping has also advised all schools and childcare facilities in ‘Status Red’ counties – which include Galway – to remain closed on Monday, as Storm Ophelia hits.

Mean wind speeds are expected in excess of 80km/h and gusts in excess of 130km/h.

A meeting between Galway City Council and emergency services will take place tonight to discuss response measures. The Local Coordination Group of the Principal Response Agencies (which includes Galway Fire Service, Gardaí and others) will take place at 9.30pm, and a further meeting at 8am Monday.

The Department of Education has ordered ALL schools to follow advice and the CLOSE on Monday.

The latest on the weather front is: “Monday will see stormy conditions as Ex-Hurricane Ophelia moves up over the country. It is expected to arrive in Kerry for 6am on Monday.

“Gale to storm force southerly winds will occur with severe and damaging gusts – winds strongest along southern counties with the risk of storm surge here, along with very high seas. Structural damage is possible anywhere and these are life-threatening conditions.

“Rain will be widespread also, with the heaviest falls likely to occur in Atlantic coastal counties. Localised flooding is possible with thundery falls. The winds will veer south-westerly as the low pressure system tracks northwards over western parts of the country. Highest temperatures will range 15 to 19 degrees Celsius.

“The storm front will track northwards on Monday night, exiting Irish coastal waters before midnight. Rain will gradually become confined to the west Connacht and west Ulster coasts and it will become dry in many parts with clear spells. Strong to gale force and gusty south-westerly winds will gradually abate.

“Currently, there are Red level wind warnings in place for Wexford, Waterford, Cork, Kerry, Clare, Limerick, Galway and Mayo. The rest of the country is covered by an Orange level wind warning and there are rainfall warnings in place for the country although this will vary.”

The National Emergency Coordination Group has issued the following public safety message:

All unnecessary travel should be avoided on Monday, while the storm is passing.

Don’t travel in Red level warning areas during the height of the storm unless absolutely necessary, and take due care if travelling in all other areas. Listen to local radio and national media broadcasts regarding the current weather situation.

High seas predicted, the public are advised to stay away from coastal areas during this period.

Very strong winds are predicted making driving conditions hazardous, especially for the more vulnerable road users, e.g., cyclists, pedestrian’s, motorcyclist and high sided vehicles. Road users should pay particular attention to the risk posed by fallen trees and flying debris.

Given anticipated weather conditions, tomorrow should be a no bike day.

Power outages are likely to occur in certain parts of the country, with contingency planning activated by the ESB.  The ESB is advising the public to stay away from fallen cables that may have broken due to the high winds. ESB Emergency Services can be contacted at 1850372999.

Bus Éireann’s schools transport services will not be operating in counties covered by Red level warnings. Because of the duty of care owed to children and to avoid the risk arising from travelling, the Department of Education and Skills is instructing all schools to act on the Department‘s advice and remain closed. Crèches and Montessori facilities should also remain closed tomorrow.

People are asked to check in on isolated and vulnerable neighbours today in advance of the oncoming severe weather conditions and again after the worst of the event has passed.

People are advised to remove patio furniture, rubbish bins and any loose items from around buildings, which can be turned into missiles by the wind.

The public are again reminded to monitor Met Éireann forecasts for their area and to be aware of the weather conditions and to heed safety warnings. Information is available across social media platforms and other traditional media sources.

Meanwhile, the RSA is advising driving test candidates in counties affected by a RED weather warning and who are scheduled to take their driving test tomorrow Monday 16 October, NOT to turn up for their driving test. The RSA will be in touch at a later date to reschedule your driving test. The RSA apologises for any inconvenience caused but the decision has been made in the interests of public safety.

Bus Éireann also want to advise passengers of likely disruption to some scheduled road passenger services tomorrow. “While it is our current intention to operate most scheduled  services there is a strong possibility that some of these may be cancelled – particularly in the southwest – in the event of a strong impact by Hurricane Ophelia. We regret that this may cause inconvenience but passenger and employee safety is our utmost priority – given the hurricane has been described as a ‘life threatening event’ – and advice from  several government agencies to take action to mitigate against this,” a statement reads.

Customers can check www.buseireann.ie or Twitter and Facebook for updates on any disruption to services. Customers can also email customercare@buseireann.ie

All GMIT campuses will be closed, and NUIG will be closed, with graduations postponed to Saturday.
“NUI Galway will be closed tomorrow Monday 16th October due to the arrival of Storm Ophelia. In the interests of safety, staff and students are not expected to attend the University. A skeleton staff will be on campus during the morning to give advice and guidance to anyone not receiving this message. All conferring ceremonies which were scheduled for tomorrow will now take place on Saturday (21st October). As this an ongoing weather event, the University did not wish to take the exceptional step to reschedule conferring until evening national and international forecasts were available.
“The University apologises for the inconvenience caused. However the safety of students, staff and visitors to the campus is paramount. Supports will be put in place for students living in campus residences. It is anticipated that the University will resume normal business on Tuesday and any changes will be posted to the website and social channels.”
ESB Networks is now at Red Weather Preparedness Level. 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.

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.

ESB Networks would like to ask our customers to be prepared to be without electricity in case their area is hit by the storm:

Have plenty of food and water available

Have torches with spare batteries available

Make sure your phone is charged and, if possible, have a phone charger at hand for your car

Please check that elderly or vulnerable relatives and neighbours are prepared to be without electricity

If you have electric gates, please check you know how to work them manually

If you come across fallen wires or damaged electricity network, never, ever touch or approach these as they are LIVE and extremely dangerous. Please report any damage to electricity infrastructure by calling 1850 372 999.

Customers without power can check for updates on when their fault is expected to be repaired at www.esbpowercheck.ie or on the PowerCheck App for iPhone and Android devices.

If your fault is not logged please report it at https://www.esbnetworks.ie/power-outages-updates/report-a-power-outage or if you have no internet access please call 1850 372 999. Customers should have their MPRN available to access recorded information specific to their location. You can also check @ESBNetworks on Twitter for updates.

ESB Networks is reminding customers of the precautionary measures to take in the event of a power cut:

Never approach broken lines or damaged poles, and keep children and animals away – report damage to ESB Networks at 1850 372 999 and listen to recorded messages carefully

Turn off electric cookers, ovens, irons, etc. if electricity supply is lost

Leave a light switched on so you know when power has been restored

Take extra care if using candles, oil lamps or other naked flames

Test smoke alarms with fresh batteries

Ensure adequate ventilation if using gas heaters.

Real time information on power outages and restoration times is available at: www.esbpowercheck.ie with further information available at: https://www.esbnetworks.ie/power-outages-updates/latest-updates

Gardaí issed the following warning: “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.
Drivers of high sided vehicles and motorcyclists should also be aware of the extreme danger posed by gale force winds as they are particularly vulnerable.
People living in coastal areas are also being warned of the risk posed by flooding from storm surge and the Coast Guard is requesting members of the public to avoid any visits or walks to coastal or cliff areas.”