The west coast of Ireland is being battered by Storm Desmond, which is expected to bring the heaviest levels of rainfall in decades on Saturday.
Met Éireann has issued a status red weather warning alert for Connacht, Donegal, Clare and Kerry and status orange and yellow warnings are also in place across the county. Weather experts are urging all residents on the west coast to “take action” to protect themselves and their properties.
Multiple weather warnings issued, including Status Red rain warning for some western areas. For further info see https://t.co/QtEBJHeCVa— Met Éireann (@MetEireann) December 4, 2015
Met Éireann's head of forecasting Gerald Fleming said Storm Desmond would be a “once in several decades” event for many parts of the State, and that there could be “several weeks” of flooding ahead.
“It’s really exceptional,” he said. “We’re talking a month’s rainfall over the course of 36 hours, which could equate to 100mm of rain.(4 Inches ) “Depending on what part of the northwest you’re in, that is a one in 20 or a one in 50 year event.
He said it was up to individuals to make decisions in relation to leaving their homes.
“Donegal, Mayo and Galway will be the three counties that will get the worst of it but it will also be felt quite severely in Clare and Kerry. Higher ground in Limerick, north Tipperary, Roscommon, Leitrim, western Cavan, will all pick up a lot of rain.”
“It will depend on whether their homes are susceptible to flooding,” he said. “If they are low-lying or beside a fast running stream which could rise very quickly - that could happen.”
The Irish Times has reported that thousands of households have already suffered power outages and several flights have been disrupted. There have also been several road closures.
The Road Safety Authority (RSA) issued a statement urging road users to take care and avoid non-essential travel.
“The public is advised to check local weather and traffic reports and heed any advice from local councils and An Garda Síochána regarding road conditions,” it said.
“In extreme weather conditions it is best to avoid making a journey by road unless absolutely necessary.”