Storms Elin and Fergus hit Ireland, possible tornado in Leitrim

leitrim ireland december 10 2023

Storms Elin and Fergus hit Ireland on December 9 and 10, 2023, bringing severe weather conditions across the country. In Leitrim Village, the impact was particularly devastating, with a possible tornado causing extensive damage to buildings and vehicles, uprooting trees, and leading to minor injuries.

Access to Leitrim village was closed following a tornado-like weather event on Sunday afternoon, December 10. The storm caused considerable damage, affecting vehicles and properties alike. Locals reported the freak weather shortly after 12:30 LT, which resulted in the roof of at least one house being blown off and several other structures sustaining damage. Additionally, several cars were damaged by flying debris, and the storm uprooted trees and knocked over walls. Some boats moored at the local jetty were overturned in the chaos.

Thankfully, there were no reports of serious injuries, although at least one motorist needed treatment for minor injuries after debris hit their car’s windscreen. Met Eireann meteorologist Liz Walsh commented on the possibility of a tornado, stating that the reports were ‘possibly correct’ or indicative of ‘very high winds associated with the thunderstorm’.

Walsh explained the mechanics behind such weather phenomena, noting the potential for rotation within a thundercloud that could lead to a tornado if the funnel cloud reaches the ground. However, she also suggested it could have been a straight-line gust, with observers reporting rotation. Such events are difficult to forecast and tend to be brief.

This weather event followed a yellow thunderstorm warning for Galway, Mayo, Roscommon, Longford, Offaly, and Westmeath, indicating likely thunderstorms and lightning. Concurrently, Storm Fergus was expected to cause high winds and potential coastal flooding along Ireland’s west coast. Orange warnings for wind were issued for Clare, Galway, and Mayo, anticipating strong onshore winds with high waves and tides.

Met Eireann meteorologist Michelle Dillon reported that strong to gale force south-west winds were developing, veering westerly through Sunday afternoon, evening, and early night as Storm Fergus tracked eastwards. Coastal flooding was a significant concern, especially at high tide.

The UK Met Office also issued yellow weather warnings for parts of Scotland and northern England. Chief meteorologist Andy Page described Storm Fergus as concluding an ‘unsettled weekend of weather for the UK’, bringing strong winds and heavy rain.

Local councilor Paddy Farrell shared his experience of nearly being caught in the middle of the storm in Leitrim village. He described a sudden and frightening onslaught of debris while driving, resulting in considerable damage to the village. Emergency services were called, and nearby businesses were forced to close. Although no one was badly injured, Farrell mentioned two minor injuries and expressed his shock at the intensity of the event.

Conditions across the country are expected to improve on December 11.

References:

1 Storm Fergus: Tornado-like weather event causes extensive damage in Leitrim village – The Irish Times – December 10, 2023

2 Shocking moment ‘tornado’ rips through Irish town as Storm Fergus hammers the island – Dailymail – December 10, 2023

3 Ireland weather: Met Eireann confirms big change in conditions after Storm Fergus – RSVP Live – December 11, 2023

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