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Hurricane Lorenzo: Ireland braces itself for powerful storm

The Guardian logo The Guardian 10/2/2019 Rory Carroll Ireland correspondent
a snow covered street: Hurricane Lorenzo lashes the seafront in Faial, the Azores. The storm is expected to hit Ireland’s west on Thursday. © AP Hurricane Lorenzo lashes the seafront in Faial, the Azores. The storm is expected to hit Ireland’s west on Thursday.

Ireland is bracing for strong winds, downed power lines and coastal flooding when Storm Lorenzo barrels in from the Atlantic before hitting Britain.

Met Éireann, the national meteorological service, issued a status orange wind warning on Wednesday for six counties on the west coast and a yellow warning nationwide for Thursday night and Friday morning.

“The main impacts will include disruptive winds, falling trees and flooding,” it said. “Storm Lorenzo will produce significant swell, high waves and sizeable storm surges. This will lead to wave overtopping, some coastal flooding and damage, especially along western and southern coasts.”

Lorenzo is the largest recorded storm to have made it so far east in the north Atlantic.

Authorities on Portugal’s Azores islands closed roads, schools and non-emergency public services on Wednesday morning in preparation for winds of up to 100mph (161km/h) and waves of up to 25 metres (82ft).

“The situation will worsen in the next few hours,” the head of the regional government, Vasco Cordeiro, told the Portuguese broadcaster SIC.

Lorenzo is expected to weaken to an extratropical storm as it moves north towards Ireland and the UK.

At a meeting of Ireland’s National Emergency Co-ordination Group, Eoghan Harris, the housing and planning minister, expressed concern over the storm’s potential impact in coastal areas and the damage from falling trees.

The orange warning for Galway, Mayo, Clare, Cork, Kerry and Limerick will be in place from 6pm on Thursday to 3am on Friday. South-westerly winds will reach mean speeds 40 to 50mph, with gusts of 60 to 80mph. A yellow rainfall warning for Ireland will be in place between 9am on Thursday and 9am on Friday.

Dan Suri, the chief meteorologist at the UK’s Met Office, said rain and heavy winds would hit western parts of the UK from Thursday, with a risk of coastal gales in Northern Ireland and western Scotland on Thursday, and Wales and south-west England on Friday.

In Ireland, a status red warning is the strongest alert, while orange is for conditions that can “impact significantly” on people in affected areas. Yellow is for conditions that do pose threats “only to those exposed to risk by nature of their location and/or activity”.

Hurricane Lorenzo broke records over the weekend after being elevated to a category 5 storm, which the National Hurricane Center in the US said was the strongest for that far north and east in the Atlantic.


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