Irish meteorologists have issued further yellow and orange weather warning for this coming weekend with snow and sleet possible in some parts of the country and as the Shannon River region dealing with the biggest flood risk in 20 years.
The continuing rainfall over the past month has led to the rise of water levels of streams, rivers and reservoirs. It’s estimated that in Athlone around 100 households are at risk, and another handful of properties in Limerick and Clare, near the River Shannon, may also flood. The River Shannon is expected to continue rising and will peak on Sunday or Monday.
The Air Corps, the airborne division of Ireland’s Defense Forces, is on standby to help communities affected by the ongoing flooding. Members of the Irish Army have also been assisting in efforts to contain water levels in the midlands and the southwest.
There’s also a possibility of sleet and snow over Munster, Connacht and the midlands. The rain also continued on Thursday, when an orange warning was issued, with between 50mm and 80mm on the ground in Munster, Connacht and Donegal.
Ireland’s National Emergency Coordination Group held a meeting on Thursday. They agreed that public health and safety are paramount.
Flood relief efforts continue in Clare, Limerick & Westmeath. River Shannon burst its banks overnight pic.twitter.com/ntmQob9NNx— Today FM News (@TodayFMNews) December 10, 2015
Chairman of the group, Sean Hogan, told the BBC that water levels like this had not been seen on the Shannon since 2009.
"In all other rivers, the water levels have been in decline, but the Shannon has continued to rise," he said.
"One fifth of the country drains through the Shannon down the Limerick and that's a slow river in hydrological terms so it will probably be a full seven days before the water clears from last weekend.
"Unfortunately, the mid to lower Shannon reaches, that's from Athlone down to Limerick are still rising and it's not yet at 2009 flood levels yet, but it is approaching those,” he continued.
In the Dáil (Parliament), the government was urged to suspend usual rules which do not allow residents to undertake their own flood defense work. Independent politician Michael Fitzmaurice said residents said the residents who would be able to aid in saving their properties are unable to do so due to EU bureaucracy.
In Limerick over 2,000 sandbags have been distributed in the areas most at risk in the Shannon area. These areas include Castleconnel, Montpelier and the Mountshannon Road in Lisnagry. Three areas along the river considered at high risk of further flooding will also have emergency drinking water points set up by the Red Cross: Athlone, Portumna and the Montpelier.
Met Éireann says the weather will clear during Sunday afternoon, but rain will return later in the night. Monday will be unsettled with temperatures remaining mild for the time of the year.