Power outages and flights axed as Storm Isha sweeps across island of Ireland

Thousands of homes were left without power and airport activity was disrupted on Sunday as Storm Isha swept “destructive” winds across the island of Ireland.

People were urged to heed wind warnings and told not to make unnecessary journeys as the most severe wind warnings kicked in on Sunday evening.

The Met Office said a tornado could hit western parts of the UK after the research organisation Torro said Ireland, Northern Ireland, parts of Scotland and northern England were “tornado watch” zones.

Status red wind warnings were issued for counties Donegal, Galway and Mayo, while status orange/amber warnings came into effect for all other counties on the island on Sunday evening.

Winter weather Jan 21st 2024
People walking away after taking photos of high waves at Salthill, Galway, during Storm Isha (Niall Carson/PA)

Met Eireann said “extremely strong” winds and “destructive gusts” are expected in the red warning areas, particularly along coastal and exposed areas.

Paul Rock, who chaired a meeting of the National Emergency Co-ordination on Sunday morning, said it is a “particularly nasty” storm in an “unusual” storm season.

“We don’t want anyone dying as a result of this storm,” he told RTE Radio.

Mr Rock asked people to avoid coastal areas during the Met Eireann warnings and for all road users to be aware of hazardous conditions, including debris, and urged people not to touch fallen electricity wires.

Delays are expected at ports, airports and possibly some public transport systems, he said, advising people to check online to see if services are disrupted.

Mr Rock expects schools to open as normal on Monday as the warnings expire overnight.

The red warnings for Galway and Mayo are valid from 5pm-9pm on Sunday, while in Donegal it is to remain in place from 9pm on Sunday until 1am on Monday.

Forecasters warned of dangerous coastal conditions, treacherous travelling conditions and of significant and widespread power outages in these counties.

Bus Eireann suspended its town, city and intercity services in Mayo and Galway from 4pm on Sunday.

As the status red warning came into effect at 5pm, the metal clocktower on top of the Thirteen on the Green bar at Eyre’s Square in Galway city fell on to the path below.

For other counties, a status orange wind warning is in place from 4pm or 5pm on Sunday until 2am or 3am on Monday, bringing with it the threat of large coastal waves, very difficult travelling conditions, fallen trees and damage to power lines.

This warning is to reduce to a status yellow warning until 4am on Monday, when all Met Eireann warnings are lifted.

With status red marine warnings also in place, bringing rough sea conditions, the coastguard advised people to be aware of large breaking waves.

The ESB said that as of 8.35pm, more than 170,000 homes, farms and businesses were without power, with the expectation of further power outages overnight.

The counties worst impacted by outages include Mayo, Galway, Roscommon and Kerry.

Dublin Airport said the storm was posing “a significant challenge” to flights operations, and as of 7pm airlines had cancelled 114 flights – 58 incoming and 56 departing – with 36 flights diverted to other airports.

The Road Safety Authority advised all road users to be aware of the dangers once the storm has passed as there may be hazardous conditions such as flooded roads and downed pylons, lines, trees and other debris on roads.

In Northern Ireland, an amber weather warning was issued for all counties from 6pm on Sunday until 6am on Monday, bringing “very strong winds”.

This will be downgraded to a status yellow wind warning that will be in place until noon on Monday.

The PSNI said someone was struck by falling debris after scaffolding became dislodged in Belfast.

They were treated at the scene by emergency services.

Officers closed the Castle Lane junction with Royal Avenue and advised pedestrians to avoid the area.

It also said it had received “numerous reports of fallen trees” and urged people to only travel if the journey is necessary.

The Department for Infrastructure said that despite contingency measures, public workers’ strike action may disrupt any responses to incidents such as debris on roads and floods.

It said all parts of Northern Ireland are expected to be affected but the strongest winds will be in the early hours of Monday around the coast and in exposed locations.