A Status Red alert has been extended to the entire country tonight by Met Eireann.

Eight counties were included in the alert this afternoon. However, Met Eireann has updated its warning as Ophelia approaches and all counties are now under a Red Alert wind warning.

Met Eireann has warned that Hurricane Ophelia will be the most severe weather event to hit Ireland since Hurricane Debbie in 1961.


On this evening’s forecast, meteorologist Joanna Donnelly said “this is not the remnants of a hurricane – this is a hurricane.”

This evening, the Department of Education announced it has instructed all schools and colleges to close tomorrow.

ESB has said Storm Ophelia will cause disruption to the electricity infrastructure and loss of supply is expected.

They are advising customers to have “plenty of food and water” as well as “torches with spare batteries” available for the storm.

“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,” it said.

In the event of a power cut, people are advised to take care using candles and other naked flames, and turn off “cookers, ovens and irons etc.”.

WIT has confirmed it will be closed tomorrow, along with UCC, CIT, GMIT, ITT, MIC, LIT and UL.

Gardaí are advising people not to make any non-essential journeys while cycling should be avoided completely.

“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,” a statement from An Garda Síochána said.

Gardaí also warned of the risk posed by storm surge flooding in coastal areas.

The Minister for Education, Richard Bruton, said this afternoon that all schools in a red alert zone should close tomorrow and parents should keep their kids at home.

The Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has urged farmers, fisherman and people in rural areas to take precaution during the storm.

“I urge farmers and all people in rural areas to ensure that they are ready for the approaching storm and ask them to follow closely the advice of the authorities particularly for those in the worst affected counties,” he said.

“Priority is obviously the safety of people and I would reiterate the advice that only essential travel should be taken. For farmers they should ensure that their yards are secured by securing loose objects.”

The Road Safety Authority has announced that all driving tests in Red Alert areas are being cancelled tomorrow.

The impact of tomorrow’s storm is expected to exceed Hurricane Debbie in 1961 when fifteen deaths occurred as a result of the storm.

The service had already issued a Status Red weather warning for Galway, Mayo, Clare, Cork and Kerry as the powerful weather system heads across the Atlantic towards Ireland.

 

Hook Lighthouse in Wexford has announced it will be closed tomorrow and has pleaded with people to stay away from exposed coastlines.

The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection have cancelled all customer appointments for Monday in Wexford, Galway, Mayo, Clare, Cork, Kerry, Limerick and Waterford.

Customers should not to attend appointments at Intreo or other Department offices on account of the severe weather conditions and the Department confirms that there will be no impact on customer payments.

“The Department will follow up with all affected customers to reschedule appointments as required,” it said.

“Customers in Status Orange counties should also exercise due caution before travelling to any Intreo or other Department appointments. Customers in Status Orange counties who are unable to travel due to the adverse weather conditions are asked to contact the relevant office to reschedule their appointment.

The primary concern of the Department is to ensure the safety of all customers during this severe weather.”

The possible impact of Hurricane Ophelia as it makes land fall in Ireland tomorrow was discussed at a national emergency meeting this morning.

The storm has already been categorised as the strongest hurricane to emerge so far east in the Atlantic.

The tail end of the storm is to hit our shores tomorrow morning around 9am, with warnings of high winds and sea swells.

Yesterday Bus Éireann warned that School Transport Scheme services it operates in counties under a Red Alert will not operate on Monday.

Since 2015, the transport service has had a policy not to run school buses in areas affected by a Status Red weather warning to ensure school children are not endangered in any way.

“We are aware this decision may cause inconvenience, but safety of schoolchildren is our number one priority,” a statement from Bus Éireann read.

“Schools will make their own decisions on whether to open or remain closed, but School Transport Scheme services will not operate in – or into – areas affected by Status Red.

“Services are expected to resume in these counties on Tuesday… please see www.buseireann.ie for updates in relation to this – and other service disruption”

Meanwhile, road users are being urged to be vigilant by the Road Safety Authority who advise checking traffic conditions before travelling, amid warnings from Met Éireann about possible storm-force winds and heavy rain.

The RSA is warning drivers to be aware of the danger of aquaplaning especially on roads with speed limits of up to 120 km/h, and to be careful of vehicles veering across the road in strong winds.

Brian Farrell, Communications Manager with the RSA, said cyclists need to be particularly careful.

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