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Storm Ellen brings record winds and heavy rain to parts of Ireland and UK


Storm Ellen brought winds as strong as a Category 1 hurricane and heavy rains to parts of the UK and Ireland through Wednesday night, August 19, 2020, leaving nearly 200 000 properties without power. Winds up to 180 km/h (112 mph) were reported off the coast of southern Ireland. Flood warnings remain in force for Scotland, England, and Wales as of Friday, August 21. Early figures from Met Eireann said the storm set new weather records in Ireland for the month of August, including the mean wind speed records. Ellen formed over the Atlantic Ocean, driven by the remains of Hurricane "Kyle" and was named on Tuesday evening, August 18.

According to the Met Office, the "unseasonably deep Atlantic low-pressure system" brought very strong winds across Ireland, with power disruptions and numerous fallen trees reported in Northern Ireland. Destructive winds of up to 180 km/h (112 mph) hit off the southern coast.

"Storm Ellen was a very lively storm for this time of year," said chief meteorologist Paul Gunderson. 

Peak gusts of 151 km/h (94 mph) were registered across Scotland, 128 km/h (80 mph) across Wales, and 109 km/h (68 mph) across England.

Met Eireann said Ellen set weather records in Ireland for the month of August. It broke mean wind speed records for the month of August with 111 km/h (69 mph) and brought the lowest mean sea-level pressure with 966.5 hPa.

On Thursday morning, at least 194 000 homes and businesses were without power. 40 000 premises lost electricity in Cork, 35 000 in Tipperary, 20 000 in Westmeath, 15 000 in Longford, and 12 000 in Limerick.

The south and west regions of Ireland experienced the full brunt of the storm. Numerous fallen trees were reported across several counties, and many roads were blocked with large amounts of debris.

In Fermanagh, six people were rescued from two boats at Devenish Island when the vessels broke their moorings. All were brought to safety into Enniskillen.

Several areas in Cork saw flooding, including Skibbereen, Kinsale, Middleton, and Bantry, while waves roared over the seafront wall at Youghal. Heavy flooding hit Skibbereen after intense rainfall.

"This shouldn't be happening in Skibbereen. Millions spent on flood protection. The entire town should be dry even in this intense rainfall," said Cork South West TD, Christopher O'Sullivan.

On Friday morning, more than 100 homes in south Wales were left without power. Western Power Distribution said it restored supply to 323 homes in Nelson, Caerphilly County. 

The M48 Severn Bridge was closed in both directions while a speed limit is in force on the A55 Britannia Bridge to Anglesey due to high winds.

Met Office issued flood warnings for Scotland, England, and Wales on Friday as showers and gusts are forecast. It will be windy over England and Wales on Saturday, August 22, and further showers are likely for western parts of the UK. 

In Ireland, rain is forecast in the northwest on Saturday morning, as well as a mix of scattered showers and sunny spells. Met Eireann issued Yellow wind warning for Dublin, Louth, Wexford, Wicklow, Meath, Cork, Kerry, and Waterford.

Featured image credit: Cork City Council

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