There are 70,000 homes, businesses and farms without power after Storm Ellen swept over Ireland overnight and left a trail of destruction in its wake.
According to the ESB’s Power Check website, there were scores of faults across the country on Thursday, with counties Cork, Tipperary, Westmeath, Longford and Limerick worst affected.
In an update on the situation on Thursday afternoon, the ESB warned that some homes will remain without electricity tonight, predominantly in Cork and Tipperary.
“We are advising all those impacted by outages that they should prepare to be without electricity overnight and into tomorrow, with small pockets of customers potentially without power beyond that. It is very important that any customers who use electrically powered medical devices should contact their healthcare professional to make alternative arrangements if necessary,” it said.
Earlier this morning, 194,000 properties were without power, but ESB Networks said this had been reduced to 70,000 by the afternoon.
A full list of the faults can be found on the Power Check website.
ESB Networks had said earlier it is advising customers impacted by outages that they should “prepare to be without electricity for a number of days”.
Repair crews were being deployed this morning in the most affected areas and where safe to do so, “assessing the damage so that they can restore power as quickly and effectively as possible”, it said.
Derek Hynes, operations manager for ESB Networks, said the earlier figure of 194,000 impacted properties had not been the largest figure ever for damage.
He told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland on Thursday that the highest number without power ever was in 2017 following Storm Ophelia, when there were 385,000 impacted properties, followed by Storm Darwin in 2014 when there were 280,000 without power.
However, this is the first time there has been such loss of power at this time of year, and the impact will be different because trees are in full leaf, he explained.
Met Éireann also said that the storm had broken the mean wind speed record for August.
— Limerick Council (@LimerickCouncil) August 20, 2020
#StormEllen broke Mean Wind Speed (111 km/h) & MSL Pressure (966.4 hPa) records for August. As our climate continues to change we expect more weather records to be broken.
— Met Éireann (@MetEireann) August 20, 2020
This shouldn’t be happening in Skibbereen.Millions spent on flood protection.The entire town should be dry even in this intense rainfall. Part of me is not surprised. The flood committee flagged that this area needed more protection.OPW need to provide answers. #StormEllen pic.twitter.com/pPr061LOz9
— Christopher O’Sullivan TD (@COSullivanTD) August 19, 2020
Met Éireann on Thursday morning issued a status yellow wind warning for counties Dublin, Louth, Wexford, Wicklow, Meath, Cork, Kerry and Waterford. The warning was valid between 5pm on Thursday and 5am on Friday.
A status yellow rainfall warning was also issued for the entire country for Thursday and Thursday night, valid between 9am on Thursday and 5am on Friday.
The forecaster reported that Thursday night would be windy, with widespread showers and thunderstorms giving a continued risk of flooding. Winds would be up to gale force in coastal areas, it added.
In Co Cork, flooding was reported in Skibbereen, Kinsale, Midleton and Bantry after Storm Ellen hit.
Met Éireann had issued a status red storm warning for Cork, with winds predicted to hit in excess of 150km/h, between 9pm and midnight on Wednesday. The alert proved accurate, with high winds bringing down trees and power lines all over Munster.
Cork was particularly badly hit as winds, measured at one stage as gusting at 143km/h at Roches Point at the mouth of Cork Harbour, brought down power lines all over the county.
Jim Molloy, acting director of services and roads with Cork County Council, on Thursday said the local authority had responded to 50 callouts overnight for fallen trees in east Cork and 30 in relation to flooding, mostly in Skibbereen.
It had been “very tempestuous” last night, he said, with the storm causing “a lot of chaos”.
Major routes have been cleared, but he advised motorists to exercise extreme caution and to be alert for fallen trees and spot flooding.
In a statement on Thursday, Cork City Council said there was a significant risk of flooding in low-lying areas of the city centre from 7.30pm amid high spring tides.
The council said it has a limited stock of gel bags and sandbags available for collection by members of the public and businesses.
Among the areas badly hit by Storm Ellen were Fermoy where more than 1,800 homes were affected by power outages; Macroom where almost 1,500 premises were affected; Cloyne in east Cork where almost 2,000 customers were affected; and Riverstown near Glanmire where more than 1,000 customers were affected.
In Cork city, Douglas was particularly badly hit, with almost 2,500 customers affected, while more than 400 customers in Bishopstown were left without power and 700 homes around Carrigaline in south Co Cork were also affected. There were smaller outages in Kilworth, Rathcormac and Whitechurch.
More than 250 customers near Youghal were left without power, while in Tallow in Co Waterford more than 500 customers were affected. Near Dungarvan, 1,200 customers were impacted, along with 300 customers near Waterford city, as high winds wreaked havoc.
While Cork bore the brunt of the high winds, there are also power outages in Co Tipperary, with 1,100 homes and businesses in Clonmel being left without electricity. The north of the county was also hit, with more than 900 customers affected in Templemore and more than 800 in Toomevara.
More than 2,000 customers were affected around Ballyhale in Co Kilkenny and more than 1,600 near Tullamore in Co Offaly. In Athy, Co Kildare, 400 customers were affected, while there were smaller outages in Bagenalstown in Co Carlow, Clonroche in Co Wexford; Ballybunion in Co Kerry; and Athenry, Co Galway.
By Thursday evening local authorities in the south and west were reporting they were still responding to debris and fallen trees following the storm.
Galway County Council reported that the L3111 was closed as there were four trees down on the road.
Storm Ellen brought with it heavy rains and Skibbereen in west Cork in particular was badly affected by the downpours, with Bridge Street flooding to a depth of several inches before members of the Skibbereen unit of the Cork County Fire Service, backed up by Cork West Civil Defence, cleared the street.
Local Cork South-West TDs Holly Cairns of the Social Democrats and Christopher O’Sullivan of Fianna Fáil both posted footage on their Twitter accounts of the flooding in Skibbereen, with flood waters racing down Bridge Street in the centre of town.
Mr O’Sullivan tweeted: “This shouldn’t be happening in Skibbereen. Millions spent on flood protection – the entire town should be dry even in this intense rainfall . . . The flood committee flagged that this area needed more protection. OPW need to provide answers.”
Cork County engineer Kevin Morey told RTÉ Radio 1’s News at One that the flood relief scheme in the town was designed to protect against river flooding, and the flooding amid Storm Ellen was a result of the overwhelming of a drain system.
An Post tweeted that it was experiencing some disruption to its services, particularly in the west and southwest, following the storm.