The country is making unprecedented preparations for the impact of ex-Hurricane Ophelia, with Met Eireann last night extending its Status Red warning to the whole country. The weather service is advising people to stay indoors for the duration of the storm, and not to travel unless “absolutely necessary”.
Hurricane-force winds were expected to reach southern coastal counties late this morning with storm force winds spreading inland and northwards across the country during the rest of today.
Met Eireann expects very strong winds, with gusts of up to 150km per hour, with heavy rain and high seas. People are being urged to stay away from coastal areas.
Power outages have already occurr are likely to occur in some parts of the country.
Schools and colleges across the country are closed. There have been warnings of significant disruption to travel services across the country, while many businesses are also remaining closed for the day.
Employers’ group Ibec has encouraged all businesses to minimise the movement of employees, saying safety should be of the utmost priority.
Press release: Dublin Chamber has called on employers to minimise the need for their staff to travel today (Monday 16th October).
The Chamber said that while red alert warnings remain in place, businesses should take necessary steps to ensure that their staff remain safe.
Bus Eireann has cancelled all of its services across the country until 2pm. The company said it would attempt to provide some level of service in some parts of the country in the afternoon, but added that “widespread disruption” could continue for most of the day.
Dublin Airport said in a statement this morning: “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.”
Some retailers also decided to close for the day. All Dunnes Stores in the Republic and Northern Ireland are shut. Tesco said its stores remain open but will close for the duration of the storm and closure times will vary based on local weather conditions.
Most of the country banks are also closing. Bank of Ireland said all branches in Ulster, Connacht and Munster are closed. All Ulster Bank branches in the Republic are shut and those in the North will close at 1pm. Permanent TSB said all of its branches have closed. AIB has so far closed dozens of branches and details are available on its website.
Irish Rail has also warned of disruption to inter-city services, while Dublin Bus is withdrawing services from 10am.
Most ferry services have been cancelled, as have some flights.