Updated post (Thursday, 15 January 2015) available here.
Storm Rachel is forecast to bring winds of between 100kph and 130kph across Ireland during Thursday.
Met Éireann has a Red Alert, the highest level warning, in place for County Clare as well as exposed coastal and mountain areas of Donegal, Sligo, Mayo, Galway, Limerick and Kerry.
Mean wind speeds of 90 km/h with gusts of 130 to 150 km/h will continue through much of the day before the storm abates during the late afternoon and evening.
The storm has promoted the closure of a number of Clare schools after the Department of Education said schools should consider not opening where a Status Red weather warning related to wind is forecast (see The Clare Herald Facebook Page for the latest list of closed schools).
Meanwhile, power cuts are being reported across some parts of the country with thousands of households affected as southwesterly to westerly winds continue to strengthen (see powercheck.ie for the latest outages).
Clare County Council, following a meeting of the Local Co-ordination Committee and in response to Met Éireann’s issuing of a Red Alert for strong winds, established an Emergency Call Centre on Wednesday. The emergency number – 1890 252 943 – has been established for members of the public to report fallen trees, blocked roads and flooding.
“While the entire county will be affected, the most extreme impacts are likely to be along the coastline. The advice is not to venture out or to drive on exposed roads while these conditions prevail,” said the Council.
Clare has been battered by a number of storms during the past year, the worst of which occured on February 12th when Storm Darwin downed thousands of trees and caused days of power cuts for much of the County. Shannon Airport recorded the highest gust in Ireland on this date. The 86 knot (159 km/h) gust was recorded on 12th February in Shannon, its highest February gust on record (since 1945) and its highest annual gust since 1961 (53 years).
Meanwhile, much of County Clare experienced snowfall on Tuesday night and early Wednesday (click here to view snow pictures).
A return to colder conditions is expected on Thursday and over the weekend with further falls of hail and sleet likely, with snow on higher ground. The cold theme is expected to continue into next week.
According to Met Éireann: “While Sunday next will continue quite cold, winds will ease down steadily and showers will tend to die out. A hard frost will set in for a time on Sunday night but rain, preceded by sleet and snow, is likely to develop in the south and west of the country later. A mixture of rain, sleet and snow will then spread countrywide during Monday, and there may be a risk of significant accumulations of snow further east and north eventually. Generally cold conditions seem set to persist well into next week, with further threats of snowfall from time to time. “
According to Irish Weather Online forecaster Peter O’Donnell: “FRIDAY to SUNDAY will be cold or very cold with passing wintry showers, some accumulations of snow mainly on higher terrain, and temperatures between -2 C at night and +4 C daytimes. Moderate northwest winds will sometimes become stronger and gust to 100 km/hr but more frequently they will be in the 40-70 km/hr range.”
“MONDAY could see a significant snowfall (that might start Sunday afternoon or evening) with any rain confined to most temperate parts of southwest. This is rather uncertain at present but there is potential for 5-10 cm snowfalls. Temperatures might be fairly close to zero C with that although 4-7 C in parts of the southwest.
“FURTHER OUTLOOK calls for very cold weather at times, but confidence is not yet all that high, and there could be one or two milder days in the mix,” said O’Donnell.