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'Violent but short-lived' – Storm Hannah's 150kmh gusts leave power cuts and damage in their wake

THOUSANDS of homes are without power this morning after Storm Hannah hammered Ireland’s south-west coast last night.

Winds gusted to a potentially lethal 150kmh off the Clare coast and around the Aran Islands – if the winds had been sustained they would have equated to almost Category 2 hurricane status.

Flights were cancelled at Kerry, Cork and Shannon airports.

A total of 21,000 households across counties Kerry, Cork, Clare and Limerick were without power at one point, but that number has fallen considerably overnight.

Approximately 10,000 homes are currently without power.

ESB Networks said the areas most affected include the Dingle and Iveragh peninsulas, and parts of west Cork. Trees falling on overhead lines was the main cause.

It is expected that many homes won’t be reconnected until lunchtime on Saturday.

A separate Status Yellow wind warning was in place from 11pm last night until 9am this morning for Connacht, Carlow, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, Longford, Wexford, Wicklow, Offaly, Donegal, Tipperary and Waterford.

Met Éireann’s Evelyn Cusack said the storm, while violent, was also short-lived.

“The centre of the storm will pass over parts of Galway, the midlands and Dublin so that is where we expect the slackest winds,” she said.

“The only good thing about it is that it will be very short-lived.

“But people need to treat these weather conditions with extreme caution.”

A number of trees were brought down by the raging winds as the Road Safety Authority (RSA) and gardaí pleaded with motorists to avoid all non-emergency travel in areas with major weather alerts in place at the height of the storm.

Motorists were also urged to drive with extreme caution once the weather alerts were lifted because of the potential for storm debris on roads.

“We are urging people to be very careful on the roads because of Storm Hannah,” a Garda source warned. “The wind gusts are expected to reach strong and potentially violent levels in some areas.

“Cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians should be aware of the danger posed by high winds as they are particularly vulnerable.

“Drivers of high-sided vehicles should take all necessary precautions and pay attention to the warnings.”

A number of major tourist attractions closed early across the west and mid-west as a public safety precaution.

Ferries in Cork, Kerry, Clare and Galway also suspended services.

In west Cork, Castletownbere RNLI launched to assist fishing vessel which had lost all power and was at the mercy of the storm.

The 33ft fishing vessel lost all power in Bere Haven Harbour in west Cork and the lifeboat crew battled sea conditions reaching force nine to assist the vessel with a crew of two people onboard.

Once on scene the lifeboat crew quickly took the vessel under tow and brought it safely to shore where the crew could seek shelter.

Mission

Castletownbere RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager Paul Stevens said it was a difficult mission.

“Conditions are very challenging offshore this evening and the crew did a great job in bringing everyone home safe,” he said.

“The waves are very high and there are strong winds blowing. We would advise everyone to seek shelter and not attempt to go out during the weather warning.”

Councils in Kerry, Cork, Limerick and Clare have repair crews on standby because of concerns over fallen trees, structural damage and road debris.

Clare Co Council’s Carmel Kirby confirmed their crisis management team was convened.

“The strong message we want to give out is to go home, tie up any loose material in your garden or outside your house and stay inside until the storm passes,” she said.

“The safest thing to do is for people to stay indoors.”

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