Schools and colleges closed as Storm Ophelia hits

The National Emergency Coordination Group has advised the public to stay at home where possible

Schools and colleges closed as Storm Ophelia hits

Image: The Weather Channel

Updated 11:40

The National Emergency Coordination Group has advised members of the public to stay at home today where possible as Storm Ophelia hits the country.

The storm made landfall on the southern coast this morning.

Met Éireann has warned that it is likely to be the most severe weather event to hit the country in over 50 years.

A level red weather warning has been extended countrywide with hurricane force winds expected in every county.

The storm is expected to track directly over the country throughout the day.

The Met Éireann warning adds that "violent and destructive gusts" are forecast with all areas at risk - in particular the southwest and south in the morning and eastern counties in the afternoon.

Winds of up to 150 kph are forecast countrywide.

Within the last hour Fastnet Lighthouse recorded wind gusts of 190kph.

There will also be heavy rain and storm surges along some coasts, which will result in flooding.

The warning also says there is "potential risk to lives."

Schools and colleges

All schools and colleges have been closed, ferries cancelled, court sittings postponed and the Defence Forces put on standby.

The decision was taken following a special meeting of the Irish government task force on emergency planning.

Dublin and Shannon Airports are advising passengers to check the latest flight information before travelling to the airport.

Cork Airport has said cancellations are likely.

National Emergency Coordination Group

There will be another meeting of the National Emergency Coordination Group at 10:30am this morning.

In the meantime, Minister of state at the Department of Housing, Damien English, told Newstalk people need to pay attention to their warnings and stay safe:

“Certainly stay off bikes,” he said.

“Avoid travelling if at all possible. Make sure all furniture and all moveable objects around your house and around your farm are tied down and put away because they can become missiles,” he said.

“I know it is difficult for people; it puts them out; it disrupts your day but it is just a few hours.

“The last time we had winds like this, probably back in the 60s, the majority of people who lost their lives were because of trees falling.

“The best way to avoid that is just not to be around and to be out of the way.”

Severe winds

While severe gusts will remain throughout the day – they are expected to reach their maximum strengths at the following times:

From 7am: Coastal areas of Cork and Kerry

From 9am: Rest of Munster

From 12pm South Leinster and Galway

From 1pm Dublin and rest of Leinster

From 3pm North Connacht and Ulster

Ophelia is currently classed as a tropical storm but Met Éireann Meteorologist Haarm Luijkx says we still need be wary of the force of the wind:

“It has lost the status of hurricane just when it approaches Ireland,” he said.

“It is a tropical storm now but that does not take away from the fact that there are going to be very strong winds - with hurricane force winds on our south coast.

“Top wind speeds are going to be 130kph.

“People are urged and advised to stay inside if they don’t have to go anywhere.”

Public safety advice

Members of the public are advised to remain indoors for the duration of the storm – and to avoid all unnecessary travel while the storm is passing.

“Very strong winds” are expected to make driving conditions hazardous, especially for vulnerable road users - including cyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists.

Power outages are likely to occur in certain parts of the country.

The public is urged to stay away from fallen cables that may have broken due to the high winds.

People are asked to check in with isolated or vulnerable neighbours ahead of the storm’s arrival – and again once the worst of the weather has passed.

Schools closed

The Department of Education has said that all schools, colleges and education institutions will be closed on Monday.

It says in a statement: "In response to the imminent Storm Ophelia, the Department of Education and Skills is now publicly informing all schools, colleges and other education institutions that they are to remain closed tomorrow, Monday 16 October.

"This decision has been made following discussions with members of the Government Task Force on Emergency Planning and in light of the advice from Met Éireann on this unprecedented storm."

"All schools and colleges will be closed tomorrow."

Meanwhile Taoiseach Leo Varadkar says Defence Forces are on standby to assist.

Transport disruption 

Bus Éireann says all its services up to 2.00pm Monday are cancelled. It says the situation will be reviewed after this.

Dublin Bus has announced that it will be withdrawing all service from 10am

The company said it hopes to return to normal service at 6pm or "whenever we can safely operate our services."

Iarnród Éireann has cancelled all services from Heuston station to Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Waterford, Westport or Galway until further notice.

  • Belfast services are operating as normal 
  • Sligo services are operating as normal 
  • Rosslare Services are operating as normal 
  • Limerick Junction to Waterford are cancelled 
  • Limerick to Ballybrophy are cancelled

All DART and Commuter through Dublin City Centre are operating as normal.

Cork and Portlaoise commuter services have been cancelled.

Dublin Bus has cancelled all services from 10am until 7pm at the earliest.

The Luas Red and Green Line services in the capital have also been curtailed since 10am – with services expected to be brought to complete halt by midday.

Trams are being returned to Luas depots where they will be stored safely.

Normal service is expected to be resumed tomorrow morning.

Airports

Dublin Airport is “open and operational” – however up to 130 flights in and out of the city later this evening have been cancelled.

Aer Lingus, Ryanair, British Airways, Air France, CityJet, Emirates, Qatar Airways and KLM have all cancelled some services today. The airlines in question have contacted passengers directly in relation to any services that have been affected.

Passengers intending to travel are advised to contact their airline before making their way to the airport.

Cork and Shannon airports have also urged passengers to check the status of flights before making your way to the airport.

Outpatient appointments 

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has confirmed all outpatient appointments for Monday are cancelled.

It says only essential community services will operate.