25 January 2009

Severe Winter Storms killed at least 15 People

Fierce storms across southern France and northern Spain have left at least 15 people dead and caused huge damage and disruption during the past 24 hours.

Four children have died when strong winds blew off the roof of a sports centre near the city of Barcelona in the Catalan region of Spain. Elsewhere, people were killed by falling trees and debris coming loose from buildings.

Winds of nearly 200 km/h also brought down many power cables. More than 1.5 million homes in France suffered power cuts, while road and rail links were blocked and airports had to close.

Here in Ireland the weather has been less severe than on the continent, but there were also strong winds with forces between 8 and 11 - and occasionally reaching even force 12 off the coast - over the past few days. It has been quite cold and raining heavily, with the high winds coming in from the Atlantic doing some damage to power cables and trees.

Fortunately there have been no weather-related deaths in Ireland, and no major damages were reported. However, a number of sporting events - including several race meetings - had to be cancelled or postponed because of bad weather and water-logged grounds.

And here in Waterford strong gusts blowing in from the Celtic Sea caused some traffic disruption on major city streets. There was debris reported on the Cork Road, the Tramore Road and in a number of nearby housing estates.

According to the Meteorological Office the weather will remain unpleasant for at least another 24 hours, and perhaps longer.

The Emerald Islander

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